Interview with Arno Lenz & Felix Cordes from klaar Fruchtfermente
Currently still in Hamburg with an upcoming move to a new location, Arno and Felix are producing wonderfully aromatic ciders and pomquettes. The latter in particular caught our attention, but what exactly is a pomquette? And who are these two Hamburg boys, whose favorite TV snacks are indeed apples as well, who have a hard time deciding on a favorite variety, and who we rave about so much here?
We asked them a few questions to properly introduce them to you:
Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us a little bit about yourselves. Can you briefly say how you know each other and how the idea for Klaar came about?
We both have a background in gastronomy and are trained chefs. Since Felix is also a trained winemaker and Arno has done a sommelier training, we have exchanged a lot about the production of wine.
In the process, the desire to produce a wine together arose. And since there are more apples and pome fruits than grapes near Hamburg, we decided to apply the winemaker’s craft to the fruit native to northern Germany.
You are both juggling various tasks at the same time. Speaking of tasks, who is responsible for what in your company?
We are still doing the project on a part-time basis. Since Arno is more flexible with his solo self-employment, he currently takes over most of the tasks. Felix supports, as far as possible besides his full-time job, with bigger tasks, decisions and organizes the deliveries.
Cider needs no introduction really, but what is this mysterious pomquette?
Originating in the French winemaking tradition, piquette is basically a thin wine for which the already fermented pomace is infused with water again and fermented a second time. The resulting light and comparatively watery wine was given to the grape harvesters as refreshment in the vineyard the following year for motivational purposes. We apply this method to our apple pomace, and simply call this process pomquette after the French word pomme for apple. However, we use other ingredients and techniques instead of just plain water for more exciting and complex flavor profiles of our pomquette.
When not fermenting fruit, how do you spend your time?
Felix: I work full time as a food stylist, I’m passionate about cooking for family & friends and I cheer for FC St. Pauli in the stadium whenever possible.
Arno: Besides klaar I am a solo self-employed food stylist, sommelier and pack boxes for a local vegetable subscription service. Also: table tennis, cycling, and baking sourdough bread and pizza.
The fruit you work with comes from the Alte Land around Hamburg, how do you choose your producers?
We got contacts through our friends at Biokiste Hamburg, or we network with small organic producers in the Alte Land through Regionalwert AG Hamburg. After getting to know each other, visiting and exchanging ideas, we have teamed up with several fruit farms and work together in close coordination.
From September 2022, we will harvest part of the fruit we need ourselves from the meadow orchards of the Kneese cidery on Lake Schaalsee. We will then be based there and look after the trees and fruit throughout the whole year.
We hear time and again that, in addition to viticulture, domestic fruit growing and the corresponding harvests are also subject to great fluctuations due to the weather. Have you had any difficulties in this respect?
Fruit growing and agriculture in general are largely dependent on the weather. Fluctuations are normal here. However, these are becoming more and more extreme due to climate change and therefore allow less planning.
We have to adapt to this and reduce our susceptibility to it, for example, by using resistant old varieties in high-stem orchards. The fight against climate change is the most important means of counteracting this development. We try to keep this in mind in all our decisions.
In 2020, one supplier had little fruit on the trees, and what was there had enough space and was thus destined for retail as A-grade. So we had to acquire more and other producers here.
Your creativity is already beautifully expressed in your ferments, what else can we look forward to from Klaar in the coming months and years, where is the journey heading?
The cooperation with the Kneese cidery and the resulting farm community “Kernobst Manufaktur Kneese” holds many new possibilities.
In addition to ciders and pomquettes, we want to realize other ideas. Planned among others are an apple beer, a fermented (almost) alcohol-free variant and the expansion of delicatessen products such as vinegar, or pickles and lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables.
Will you still tell us your personal pairing recommendations for Elderonora and Mary Jane?
- Elderonora: cooked beet as a salad with toasted rye sourdough bread.
- Mary Jane: grilled lettuce with herb sour cream and salty hemp seed crackers.
Sounds delicious! Let’s wrap things up with a few quick questions:
Favorite TV snack? - Apple!
Favorite type of apple?
There are just too many that we haven’t tried yet ;) But Finkenwerder Herbstprinz is one of our favorites though.
Role models and inspirations?
- FRUKTSTEREO - Sweden
- BRUTES - Sweden
- REVEL CIDER - Canada
What fruit would you wish grew in the region?