The Olympic spirit is not limited to the sports arenas of this world alone; many companies are also carrying the Olympic torch in achieving the extraordinary in a very difficult market environment indeed. This is especially true where they are prepared to breach new avenues and take any risks that go with it. One such enterprise is Olympic Brewery S.A. in the town of Ritsona, about seventy kilometers from Athens.
The Greek beer market itself presents a number of big challenges, as it has been in a constant downward trend for years. While the yearly per capita consumption in 2005 was forty liters, it has since dropped to thirty-two liters today. In addition, beer sales are focused heavily on the very hot summer months. During the fall and winter seasons the Greeks tend to increasingly switch to wine and previously produced or sold beer remains longer on retailers’ shelves or in consumer homes.
When a company is able to quadruple beer sales during the first five years of its strategic realignment in such an environment, this is an achievement of seemingly record-breaking proportions. One of the major contributions to the success of Olympic Brewery S.A. was the acquisition and revival of Greece’s best-known traditional brand, FIX Hellas, which was first launched to market in 1864.
Its comeback began in 2010 – the year Olympic Brewery S.A. was founded – when the brewery revived this successful product with the longest and richest beer tradition in Greece. Today, five years after its launch, FIX Hellas is one of the leading top beers among beer lovers. “In light of the crisis, not only have many Greeks been specifically supporting local businesses,” says Konstantinos Agouridas, master brewer and production manager of Olympic Brewery S.A., “we at Olympic have also supported our economy to the greatest possible extent by using raw materials available in Greece, and since 2011, for example, have been experimenting with locally grown brewing barley.”
The brewery is also firmly committed to growth and believes in producing outstanding quality beers and steadily expanding its export activities. “Based on permanently increasing sales figures, in 2012 we decided to switch from the disposable method of beer stabilization on the tannin side using PVPP to the regeneration method,” Konstantinos Agouridas reports on the investment phase. “After close examination, we ultimately considered the Innopro ECOSTAB from KHS to have the greatest benefits among the technological solutions offered.”
The main benefits of this innovative system for Olympic are impressive indeed:
Lower cost of investment. First, the purchase price was less than that of the reusable system with a separate cartridge gap or horizontal mesh filter system which is also generally only worthwhile when the yearly beer production is more than about 400,000 hectoliters.
Compact system. Because of the prevailing space conditions, KHS installed the components of the system especially for Olympic on two frames in the designated ninety square meter area instead of in the usual single frame.
Prepared for further growth. The system at Olympic is comprised of three stabilizer modules, each equipped with two columns and integrated filter cylinders. This means that Olympic Brewery S.A. is already well prepared for further growth as the current configuration enables the brewery to produce more than a million hectoliters per year.
Continuous operation. The previously filtered beer flows into a separate tank so that the Innopro ECOSTAB can operate continuously and independently from the filters.
Non-stop production. Two modules are always active – as in a continuous relay race – with the separate modules constantly started up and regenerated. This enables Olympic to run production non-stop, around the clock at an output of 300 hectoliters per hour with short changeover times and minimized blending amounts when changing beer styles.
Up to 70% less PVPP. The modules spend just two hours in the beer stabilization phase instead of the usual ten to twenty. The PVPP (polyvinylpolypyrrolidone) is thus not tied up unproductively in the process for several hours but instead quickly regenerated and ready for further use. In addition, the container volumes of the modules are significantly smaller than those of conventional units. Olympic therefore saves up to 70% PVPP compared to classic regenerative beer stabilization.
“We were very surprised with how little PVPP the Innopro ECOSTAB manages the 40% polyphenol reduction we requested,” Agouridas recalls. “Disposable PVPP is usually more efficient than regenerated PVPP. For this reason, we expected the new system to require 80 grams per hectoliter, i.e. twice the amount of PVPP. But now at 30 grams, we need even less than the old disposable process.”
Olympic Brewery S.A. intends to run production with the current production capacity of up to 600,000 hectoliters until 2016 and then become Greece’s second-largest brewery by capturing an 18% share of the market. Thereafter they will opt to expand the existing site or set up a new location. “We’re taking a relaxed approach to the future and have two main objectives,” Agouridas says. “We want to give our fellow citizens a beer they like the taste of. And we want to continue to promote beer culture in Greece.”
“Too good to be true!”
Konstantinos Agouridas, master brewer and production manager at Olympic, is delighted with his new Innopro ECOSTAB.
Mr Agouridas, your decision to invest in an Innopro ECOSTAB was a decision not very easily made at the time.
No, it certainly wasn’t! In 2012, because of our strong growth, we wanted to switch from the disposable method of beer stabilization to the PVPP regeneration method. For this purpose, we carefully analyzed the alternatives offered by various suppliers ...
… and decided in favor of KHS technology...
… although we had some doubts. We couldn’t imagine that the Innopro ECOSTAB required less than a minute of contact between the beer and the PVPP for stabilizing. After all, we’d previously operated with up to twenty minutes. We ultimately dared to invest in a technology which at the time had very little practical industrial experience to its name only because we were keeping our old disposable system as a backup.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained?
Exactly! We never needed the backup system; all our worries were unfounded.
Was the investment worthwhile?
If I couldn’t see the benefits for myself every day, I’d hardly believe them. They’re too good to be true! Before investing we budgeted with an annual stabilizing cost of €300,000; with the Innopro ECOSTAB, this is now only €10,000. We’re figuring on a return on our investment in just two years.