Interview with South Florida Rising Star Brewer Rauf Khoffner of Khoffner Brewery

by Caroline Hatchett
April 2016

Caroline Hatchett: How did you get your start?
Rauf Khoffner:
It’s the story of my family. In 1933, Karl Khoffner ran a brewery in Munich. He received a big offer from an Italian company with two facilities, one in Greece and one in Istanbul. They were looking for someone who could start producing traditional beers. My grandfather took the offer and moved to Turkey with his family, and they also set up a facility in Greece, which is why we’re alive today. My grandfather was born in Germany with deep brewing traditions, and I was the first family member born in Turkey in 1979. I was brewing in Turkey until 2012. We were the one brewery in the whole country. They canceled our license for brewing because the Prime Minister said the local beverage of Turkey was not beer, not vodka, but milk. The next day we lost our license.

CH: How did you decide to come to Florida?
This market is just starting to blow up. There are more than 100 brewers in Florida. We made the final decision to come to the United States and did a few tours. We went to Portland and Colorado,  but it’s hard to bring something new in such a great place. When we came to Florida, I felt the big potential of this state. There’s a lot of things I can do here. Right now there is a community of beer drinkers, but not a huge community.

CH: What is your brewing style?
We keep the family tradition through brewing beer. We’re trying to keep it the same; it’s not respectful to change my Grandfather’s recipes, but I have my own. They taste the same way the did 85 to 100 years ago. We have more than 200 unique recipes. 

CH: Why do you think it is important for a beer to have a sense of place?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re brewing beer in Germany or Florida, the ingredients found in beer can be purchased, for example, from Washington State, and shipped to your door the next day. And these days you can replicate the water profile from any city or country in the world. For me, a beer’s sense of place involves the location of where you’re consuming that beer and the experience you have while drinking it.

CH: What do you think is the most important ingredient for brewing beer? Is it water?  
Every brewer knows that water is an important ingredient for brewing beer but it’s not the most important. We’re reviving and using recipes dating back 200 years and all of the ingredients are important in each recipe. It depends on the quantity and quality of each ingredient. All of our beers are made with high quality ingredients, which we balance to produce smooth and highly drinkable beer. Education with passion are also important factors for brewing beer.  

CH: How are you involved in the community?
We do brew tours for free to show people what we’re doing here. I ask local guys to bring their own fruit for us to use. We have 50 accounts.