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    Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan


    Weihenstephan’s first beer from kieselguhr-free filtration

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    10. January 2024
    3:20 min.

    We are currently witnessing a tangible shift in filter cellars all over the world, in that many breweries deliberately opt for filter aids other than kieselguhr. Steinecker and the Erbslöh GmbH company have now entered into a cooperation for developing a kieselguhr-free filtration process – and they found a partner for conducting the first tests straight away: the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan.

    Not only does filtration determine a beer’s visual appeal, it also extends its shelf life by improving its chemical and physical stability. So filtration is a vital step in the beer-making process, for which various technological options are available: The top dog among filter aids has always been kieselguhr but the material has increasingly been coming under scrutiny. “Firstly it’s getting ever more difficult to dispose of it. Kieselguhr used to serve as fertiliser in agriculture but that has actually been prohibited in the EU since 2014. So breweries would now have to pay for the disposal of their spent kieselguhr,” explains Matthias Pohl from Steinecker Sales, adding: “What’s more, the International Agency for Research on Cancer back in 1997 classified crystalline kieselguhr as carcinogenic, meaning it’s a health hazard for any brewer coming into direct contact with it without taking protective measures.”

    All of that makes one thing abundantly clear: We have to find alternatives. The Erbslöh GmbH company is headquartered in the Hessian town of Geisenheim, and its portfolio already includes suitable substitutes, such as the VarioFluxx series that works on the basis of perlites and cellulose fibres. In late November 2023, a cooperation agreement with Krones’ subsidiary Steinecker was concluded at the BrauBeviale because the VarioFluxx technology is a perfect match for Steinecker’s Twin Flow precoat filtration system.

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    Steinecker and Erbslöh signed a cooperation agreement at the BrauBeviale.

    First customer: the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan

    Beers filtered with alternative materials are in no way inferior to conventionally filtered beers, a fact vividly demonstrated by the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, which is the first customer to use the new process. The most recent project jointly completed by the brewery and Steinecker paved the way to get there. “Last year, we commissioned a new filter cellar in Weihenstephan, which includes a TFS filter already prepared for working not only with kieselguhr but with different filter aids as well,” explains Matthias Pohl. “At the time, this strategic decision was taken because it was obvious that a substitute for kieselguhr would have to be found sooner or later.”

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    From the left: Tobias Zollo, Sina Fürlauf and Gerd Abstreiter from the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan and Matthias Pohl from Steinecker Sales (second from right)

    When the cooperative alliance with Erbslöh got under way, it was obvious that “a partner brewery” had to be taken on board, so as to present meaningfully corroborated results. “Since the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan has also been using Steinecker equipment in its brewhouse and cellars and had permitted us to successfully test new technologies there before, it definitely made sense to ask for its cooperation in this project as well. You see, we’d already learned of their interest in alternative materials during our jointly completed filter-cellar project,” says Matthias Pohl. Even back then, the decision-makers in Weihenstephan had a firm eye on the future: “We deliberately chose to prepare the system for kieselguhr-free operation because it was intended for a service life of 20 to 30 years,” to quote Tobias Zollo, Technical Director of the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan.

    Tasting passed with flying colours!

    Even the early test results were a resounding success, as Quality Manager Sina Fürlauf explains: “Together with Erbslöh and Steinecker, we ran initial tests, with the result that we were able to present our first-ever beer from kieselguhr-free filtration at the BrauBeviale. Its quality was satisfactory.” Tobias Zollo adds: “We were particularly gratified by the fact that the very first test run was successful. We achieved even better results than with kieselguhr in the second run.” And the visitors to the BrauBeviale were also full of praise for the Original from Weihenstephan that was on tap at Steinecker’s bar on the Krones stand. Tasting passed with flying colours!

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    “We were able to present our first-ever beer from kieselguhr-free filtration at the BrauBeviale. Its quality was satisfactory,” says Sina Fürlauf from the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan.
    10. January 2024
    3:20 min.

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