Beer has been brewed and sold in the little town of Kirn in the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate since 1798. This makes Kirn beer a genuinely traditional product. In the second half of the 19th century Philipp and Carl Andres, the founder’s grandsons, procured the former royal cellars, made the prince’s family coat of arms their brand logo and starting operating a brewery and malthouse under the name of Ph. & C. Andres. The cellars were shared with the Vitaborn plant, also owned by the family, which produced fruit juice here until 1990. The private brewery is now called Kirner Privatbrauerei Ph. & C. Andres. Since 2013 the company has been run by Michael Peitz who started his training as an industrial clerk here in 1974.
Kirn specialty beers have established themselves in the Soonwald, Nahe, and Hunsrück regions over many years and are part and parcel of the local culture, with sales very healthy, as Peitz tells us. “Besides our high-quality bestseller Kirner Pils we also sell “Landbier” (a naturally hazy beer), wheat and bock beers and various mixed beer beverages and non-alcoholic varieties, with a total of eleven regular products. The Kirn brewery also makes seasonal beers.” Beer is brewed based on recipes handed down through the generations and after fermentation the beverage is left to cool and mature for four weeks at -1°C. This gives it its unmistakable flavor.
Beer with cult status
The locals don’t just drink Kirn beer; they identify with the brand. With lots of passion and commitment the 5,000 members of the Kirn Beer Club founded in 2011 nurture their close relationship with their home brewery. Their slogan of “Ich bin Kirner” (I’m a Kirner (beer)) already has cult status. The brand’s position on the market is accordingly successful. “With our unceasing demand for high quality for over 200 years we make a product which is completely handcrafted – from the region for the region,” explains Peitz. In this context he happily quotes an earlier advertising slogan which sums it up nicely: Kirn beer is das “Gesicht in der Menge” (the face in the crowd).
Kirner’s partnership with KHS is also rooted in a long and good tradition. It came about at a time when both the brewery and the systems manufacturer operated under different names. “The two companies have had close ties to one another for over 110 years,” states Reinhold Kuntz in Service Sales Support for KHS in Bad Kreuznach. He himself has worked with the customer in various roles for 40 years and knows that KHS’ predecessor at the site in Bad Kreuznach, the former Seitz factory, was the main supplier of the brewery’s technical equipment from the 1960s at the latest. Kuntz remembers, “Whenever new technology was developed here at the production site we looked to Kirn just 35 kilometers away, where until 1990 there was also a soft drinks bottler besides the brewery and fruit juice bottling plant. It was the perfect place to test new features and equipment.” Many innovations thus embarked on their route to success from Kirn – and to this very day nothing has changed. This is what you’d call a win/win situation, as both sides profit from this practical constellation; while the Kirn microbrewery has constant access to the latest state of the technological art, KHS can send customers from all over the world on a short trip upriver to the little town so that they can see what they’ve been shown in theory in Bad Kreuznach in practical operation in Kirn.
At the moment there are a lot of good reasons to travel to Kirn. In the spring a new KHS Innofill Glass Micro DPG bottle filler featuring cutting-edge precision technology went into operation which with its capacity of up to 20,000 bottles per hour has been specially developed for small and medium-sized breweries. With triple pre-evacuation it ensures gentle, low-oxygen filling and additional biochemical safety – an important product pledge which is not without significance for marketing purposes.
The filling system is distinguished by its reduction in the required number of spare and wear parts and a very low CO₂ consumption of just 230 grams per hectoliter. As product changeovers take up very little time, machine availability is considerably increased. To mark the official handover of the machine Professor Johann Grabenweger, member of the Executive Management Board of KHS GmbH, said, “You have here one of the most modern systems currently available on the market.”
The million investment in this sophisticated system, regarding both the planning and the production and installation, are part of the Kirner 2025 innovation project, a ten-year plan of investment, maintenance and personnel measures, the first big phase of which was to renew the filling technology. At the same time a new Innoket Roland Flex labeler and Innopro KZE C flash pasteurizer were purchased and six years ago the technology on the keg racking system from 1986, also from KHS, was brought up to date. “With this Kirner Privatbrauerei is taking a logical step towards the future,” summarizes Michael Peitz. “With this extensive investment we’re ensuring the continuation of our company and thus securing local jobs in the long term. And with this extremely energy-efficient, resource-saving machinery we’re investing in sustainability and the protection of the environment. We’re committed to our region and in this respect, too, we thus act in as exemplary a fashion as possible.”