Rauf Khoffner, exiled from Turkey, brings his family’s historic German beer recipes to a new brewery in Florida
By Cara & Ryan Jay
Recently exiled from his Turkish home for not transforming his brewery into a yogurt factory, Rauf Khoffner was raised with a family-instilled passion for beer making. Now he’s drafting up impressive flights of old-world-recipe German pilsners and helles bocks, as well as some specialty brews – right here in Fort Lauderdale.
The Intriguing Story
Rauf Khoffner was raised in Antalya, a small Turkish town on the Mediterranean Sea, where he spent his youth getting an expert’s education in all-things-beer from his father and grandfather.
Rauf’s beer-making heritage dates back to the early 1900s when his grandfather was a brewer in a small town outside of Munich, Germany. In the 1930s, with the rise of Hitler’s regime, Rauf’s grandfather moved his family from the unsafe turmoil in Germany and continued to perfect his love of brewing in Turkey. There, he passed down his knowledge of the craft to his son and grandson.
“I remember spending my childhood in the brewery, playing hide and seek amongst the big oak barrels with friends,” Rauf said. “I helped my father and the brewery staff with everything I could, from unloading the grain trucks and milling the grain to washing the equipment. I was fascinated with every aspect of making beer.
“As a teenager, I read every book I could get about beer, and I still wanted to learn more. I realized it was my calling, but I also wanted to receive a formal education. My father reminded me that I was receiving the best education learning from him the same way he had learned from his father who started brewing beers in 1915. It’s in my blood.
“Beer is one of the world’s oldest beverages. You can’t brew it without knowing the science of beer. I read a lot of books about microbiology and, for a few hours each week during our family picnics, my father would quiz me on the subject.”
Rauf, the Business-Minded Son
Unlike his family members who had always worked for large beer manufacturers, Rauf yearned to open his very own brewery.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart, and I wanted to establish my own brewery to honor my grandfather Karl Hoffner. And so I opened the Khoffner Brewery. We were the only craft brewery in Turkey offering high-quality and traditional beers. Our beers were very popular with tourists and community members. My mother was positive, but my father was skeptical at first. He was a very loyal employee and he didn’t understand why I would want to risk everything without knowing the outcome.”
In Antalya, Khoffner Brewery grew into a tremendous success. But in recent years, with the Turkish government insisting today’s generation needn’t be in the business of making beer, Rauf was faced with an ultimatum: Use your beer vats to make yogurt or leave. He was mandated to discontinue brewing in 2013 when his license was revoked. The original Khoffner locations still operate today, but only as bars, serving up imported beers. But that didn’t stop Rauf’s determination to continue making his own brews.
The Move to Florida
After teaming with longtime friend and a local Florida lawyer/entrepreneur, Evan Kagan, Rauf knew it was destiny to open his next Khoffner’s in Fort Lauderdale. “My family and I enjoy living in South Florida. I am very thankful that I’m able to continue pursuing my passion here in the United States,” Rauf said.
Khoffner’s is number three in the growing brewery scene in the area. But Khoffner‘s is unlike any brewery this side of the Atlantic. Rauf’s flavor profiles mirror those of the traditional brews in Germany, or London, or wherever their origin may be, and he’s hitting the mark every time.
“The German Beer Purity Law is the name for a series of regulations in Germany limiting the ingredients in the production of beer to only water, barley, hops and, of course, yeast. I feel it’s my responsibility to honor my family’s tradition of using this law for my German recipes, such as our pilsner and helles bock. But when I’m not brewing traditional German beers [like our oatmeal coffee stout], I remain true to my German roots of producing balanced, smooth and drinkable beers with only authentic and high-quality ingredients. I also like to replicate water columns from around the world to give my beers an authentic flavor and stay true to the beer’s origin, using and reviving recipes dating back more than 100 years.”
Khoffner Brewery in Fort Lauderdale has only been opened a few months, but the response has been tremendous. Every evening his pub space is packed as guests enjoy Rauf’s beers and watching him through plate glass as he scurries around the brewery taking care of his brewmaster duties.
StarChefs recently awarded Khoffner’s as a rising star in South Florida. The beers are available from Delray to the Keys. Or, enjoy them at the Khoffner Brewery, 1110 NE 8th Ave, Fort Lauderdale. On Sundays, the
brewery hosts potlucks, at which they grill traditional German sausages and guests bring dishes to share. Come and share a toast with Rauf himself.
For details, visit www. http://khoffner.us or call (754) 701-8851.