The Ruhr region in Germany is a very special place. Its people are down to earth and authentic, its soccer clubs marked by tradition and true love. The companies based here – even if they are active worldwide – are strongly committed to the region and inextricably linked with it. In other words: the ’Pott’, as the locals fondly refer to their home, has character!
This is also true of the Moritz Fiege private brewery – in two senses of the word. The Fiege family has been brewing top-quality beer on its premises in Bochum since 1878 and is now in its fourth generation. In 1926 Moritz Fiege, son of the brewery’s founder, decided to start making pilsner – which was then tantamount to a minor revolution in a local industry totally geared towards export-style beers. Even today, pilsner is still Fiege’s biggest seller.
Its special-edition beers are also extremely popular. The first of these was created in 2012, when a specially styled, light Bockbier was filled into a limited edition of 3,500 0.75-liter bottles and sold very quickly through exclusive local wine merchants and delicatessens for the tidy sum of €14.95. The brand name of the edition was particularly fitting (’Charakter’).
“Our beers have always retained their very own character throughout the four generations of our family brewery.”
“We limited sales to the Ruhr region,” explains Hugo Fiege, who runs the company together with his brother Jürgen. “We see ourselves as the brewery from the region for the region according to our slogan ’Fiege. Von Herzen und von hier’ (’Fiege. From the heart and from here’).” When recently investing in a filling system for glass bottles the two brothers thus also opted for machinery from one of its neighbors – KHS in Dortmund. This was not just out of loyalty to the local area, however.
“We only invest in top quality. For decades we’ve had excellent experience with KHS technology in the packaging area and on our keg racking system,” states Mark Zinkler, first master brewer at Privatbrauerei Moritz Fiege, to give the brewery its full German title. “For output rates of around 25,000 bottles per hour KHS was able to supply us with the Innofill Glass and thus just the right technical system for the high-performance range.”
Moritz Fiege is therefore one of the first breweries to utilize the latest generation of fillers from KHS, once again giving the company a clear competitive edge. Zinkler reports, “What we like about this new glass bottle series is its consistent hygienic design and the further improved filling principle applied to certain areas.”
The main improvements in the new generation of fillers and thus the technological benefits for the Fiege brewery include the following:
- The aerodynamically optimized swirler – enabling low-turbulence filling with very low oxygen pickup and precise fill levels.
- The elimination of crevices and corners – which lowers the contamination potential; broken glass falls to fall the floor and the exterior paneling made of glass permits unobstructed views of the capper area.
- The lack of front table – a pipe construction that is open on all sides simplifies cleaning and disinfection; direct drives replace gears and couplings and lower maintenance costs and the energy consumption.
- The lightweight construction of the lift cylinder table and tubular ring bowl – that reduces driving forces and torques, shortening the heating and cooling phases and reducing energy consumption.
- The compact valve manifold – the required amount of space is halved and fittings can be better maintained, inspected, and cleaned.
- The KHS Eco+ vacuum pump with an M-tube saves up to 99% of the water and energy previously required and does away with the need for classic coolants.
“We made the right decision by investing in the Innofill Glass,” Zinkler sums up. “The optimized hygienic design considerably reduces sanitizing times, not only allowing us to save water and energy but also giving us much higher line availability. The low oxygen pickup in the product also safeguards the high quality of our beer.”
Operator misgivings concerning long downtimes arising while the filler was being replaced turned out to be unfounded. Jürgen Fiege is pleased. “The process of swapping old for new and incorporating the new system and all new conveyors into our existing line went very well,” he says. “We were able to officially commission the line after a conversion period of just 18 days. KHS masterminded this project magnificently.” And this, too, is a show of character.
You also have other specialties, such as your special-edition beers.
This idea comes from the innovative Anglo-Saxon craft breweries. With beers like these we demonstrate our brewing expertise and underline our image as a brewery with character. This is also what the beer’s called – ’Charakter’ in German – which last year was a dark, top-fermented bock ...
... which you consciously only market in the Ruhr?
We identify ourselves very strongly with the German Ruhr region. Whenever there’s something big going on, we’re in on the act, from the Ruhr tent festival through the Bochum kulinarisch food feast to ExtraSchicht, our night of industrial culture. We also stage our own events, such as Fiege’s open-air movies, which had around 6,000 visitors last year.
And for your filling technology you rely on KHS from Dortmund ...
.. but not just because we’re neighbors (he grins). Our absolute top priority is quality, quality, and even more quality. After all, this is the only way we can consistently implement our high pricing concept and thus provide a solid basis for the next generation. With the wealth of positive experience we’ve had KHS technology is a major factor for us – and will remain so in the future, too.