If you understand a craft beer to be one which is brewed with skill and with love,” states Hermann Widenmayer, head of Engelbräu, ”then we’ve been doing just that for almost 350 years.” This is how long the brewery in Rettenberg in Bavaria’s Oberallgäu has existed, now run by the third generation of the Widenmayer family. In vogue since 1668, then, you could say, and this sums up the brewery’s philosophy nicely. The careful upholding of the tradition of his brands is just one side of the coin for Widenmayer; the other is keeping up with technical development in production. What’s more, with targeted investments amounting to several million euros he hasn’t just made his business fit for the future over the past few years; he’s also turned it into a veritable model company. This even prompts establishments such as the Bavarian Brewers’ Association to drop by – as in March 2015 – to glean some inspiration for its members.
The fruits of Widenmayer’s labors and that of his team are also not to be sniffed at; a number of the twelve Engelbräu beers have won international awards several times over, among them Urtyp Hell, which won the coveted Gold Award at the World Beer Cup in 2008, or the brewery’s jubilee beer, which was recently presented with a silver medal at European Beer Star in 2013. This of course earns Engelbräu plenty of recognition and steps up the demand well beyond its regional and national boundaries. ”The main area of distribution for our products is in the Allgäu region and covers about an 80-km radius from our location,” ascertains Widenmayer. ”However, the demand throughout the rest of Germany is growing and about 4% of sales is generated outside the country.” He doesn’t just mean neighboring Austria with the states of Vorarlberg and Tirol, either; the 0.5-liter swing-top bottle and other bottle types from Rettenberg make it as far as the USA and China – without the family brewery really having to try. ”Non-German traders seem to come across us by chance. Only recently a Finnish beverage distributor was so excited about our Allgäu originals when he visited our brewery pub that he immediately included them in his product range,” smiles Widenmayer.
The brewery owner believes that one of the cornerstones of his success is his use of local raw materials. Among these he counts the outstanding brewing water from the springs of the nearby Grünten Mountain, about 1,800 meters above sea level, and hops managed by controlled farming from the Hallertau and Tettnang. He’s also proud of the skill of craft brewing celebrated here and of the commitment shown by his family and 40 brewery employees.
Flash pasteurizing system for reliable pasteurization and destruction of germs
40 to 720 hectoliters per hour
- Reliable production through continuous regulation of the pasteurization units
- Beer with a stable taste
- Longer shelf life
Innopro ECOSTAB B
Regenerative beer stabilizer for batch operation
50 to 240 hectoliters per hour
- Easy to integrate into existing filter lines
- Lower cost of investment
- Reduced media consumption
Innofill Glass Micro DPG
Bottle filler with cutting-edge precision technology and triple pre-evacuation
Up to 20,000 bottles per hour
- Gentle, low-oxygen filling
- Additional microbiological safety
- Hygienic machine design
Fit for export
One of the conditions for successful export besides a beer’s good, specific taste is primarily that it keeps well. In order to extend its shelf life from eight to twelve months and to also meet the growing demand, in 2015 Engelbräu invested in a new KHS line that in addition to an Innofill Glass Micro DPG bottle filler, is comprised of an Innopro flash pasteurizer which, due to reliable pasteurization and destruction of germs, makes sure that the beer has a stable taste and longer shelf life. Thanks to state-of-the-art filling technology and triple pre-evacuation the bottle filler itself enables gentle, low-oxygen filling – which gives Engelbräu extra biochemical safety. Widenmayer greatly appreciates this. ”We cultivate our beers – and this is very important to us. The fact that large process engineering technology has been adapted to suit our dimensions and requirements is an enormous help to us.” The new plant equipment is also a big leap forward regarding the brewery’s capacity; where around 12,000 bottles an hour were filled to date, in March this rose to approximately 18,000 per hour.
Speaking of size: Widenmayer is delighted with the compact design of his new KHS systems which enables state-of-the-art equipment to be installed even in his limited amount of space. Here, he stresses the space-saving blocking of the capper and the screw capper directly with the filler. He was particularly convinced by the fact that the machine is made entirely of stainless steel which makes sanitizing easier and avoids problems with rust.
The brewery manager is also extremely enthusiastic about the flawless cooperation with KHS. ”It was really exemplary: from the good, considered planning through the provision of competent advice and excellent support when installing and setting up the filling system to the instructions issued to our filling staff.” ”Proficient” and ”motivated” are how he describes the contacts and engineers at KHS and mentions two people by name – Mike Herrmann and Mario Wolle – who always responded to his requests and whose support he could fully rely on.
Maybe one day Hermann Widenmayer actually will make a ”real” hoppy craft beer with an original gravity of 18% and an alcohol content of 6 or 7% but at the moment he not only lacks ”a little brewhouse", as he puts it, but also the time. ”With our current range of products, an output of 50,000 hectoliters of our own beers and soft drinks and 30,000 hectoliters of contract fillings we’re running at full capacity.” There’s hardly a better way to describe success …
This technology is now accessible to smaller breweries with an annual capacity of 50,000 hectoliters or more as the ECOSTAB C’s ’little brother’, the Innopro ECOSTAB B.
- As the PVPP is regenerated and thus much less of it is needed, the system can yield a return on investment within just two years.
- The Innopro ECOSTAB B can be excellently integrated into existing filter lines with little effort.
- The much smaller tank volumes mean that less space is required and the cost of investment is therefore lower. They also cut down on the number of mixing phases and thus reduce the amount of product loss during batch changeovers.
By downsizing innovative precision technology, with its Innopro ECOSTAB B KHS has now made its extremely economical system for the regenerative stabilization of beer available for line capacities of between 50 and 240 hectoliters an hour – in other words, for breweries who to date found the bigger system rather ’overengineered’.
Your contact on this topic
head of Development & Product Management
KHS GmbH, Bad Kreuznach, Germany
Phone: +49 671 852-2211
sales manager for Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg
KHS GmbH, Sales Office Ulm, Germany
Phone: +49 171 3548482