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Franconia frankly beats France

He has expanded from 300 hectolitres to almost 40,000 hectolitres over the course of decades, while always remaining true to himself. Who are we talking about here? Brewery owner, inn-keeper, DJ, amateur actor and paterfamilias Konrad “Conny” Krug. His beer tastes better each time you try it. So good, in fact, that the Krug-Bräu Brewery in the Upper-Franconian village of Breitenlesau could hardly fill the bottles and casks fast enough. Not a “problem” any brewer would complain about, and easily remedied by a new complete line from Krones and Kosme. This was installed in an ultra-confined space, and has since the summer of last year made sure that the Krug beers can be transported to consumers in Northern Bavaria – while simultaneously also supplying them with a bit of “Franconian Switzerland”.

A jovial jokester and a jack-of-all-trades

Konrad “Conny” Krug is a real character, a jovial jokester, a good entrepreneur, a family man, a straightforward guy, a man of his word and a jack-of-all-trades. When he was 20 years old, i.e. 40 years ago, he took over the brewery from his mother after he’d completed his apprenticeship as a brewer. Back then, he brewed 300 hectolitres of beer a year, while today the figure is just under 40,000 hectolitres. Konrad Krug’s great-great-grandfather had bought the farming estate in 1820 and started brewing beer in 1834. Konrad Krug was the first in the family to fill beer in bottles. “I began in the simplest way imaginable: I collected bottles, cleaned them with a scrubbing brush, soaked them, then took them to the tavern on a wheelbarrow, and filled them one by one at the beer tap, affixed a sticker on which I wrote ‘lager’, and sold them at 50 pfennigs a bottle”, he reminisces. “That was my state of the art in 1973, and today I own a Krones line”, he says, not without pride.p>

8,000 bottles an hour on a mere 240 square metres

The new line went into operation in June 2013, after only six short weeks of installation time, at an efficiency of 93 per cent. It is rated at 8,000 bottles an hour and erected on a footprint of a mere 240 square metres, plus another 80 square metres to accommodate the peripherals, such as bright-beer tank, tank for chlorine-dioxide water, caustic sedimentation tank, high-speed steam generator, low-pressure compressor, and the control cabinets. It is here, too, that the beer pipe (coming from the storage cellar which is about 100 metres away, and laid underground) arrives and is led to a distribution panel.

Despite the rating, which one is inclined to call medium, Krug utilises a Robogrip palletising robot. This handles both depalletising and palletising, and at a later juncture will be tasked with loading the full kegs, too, as soon as a new kegging line has been installed in the adjacent room. At the disco weekends, when the guests walk from the car park to the dance hall past the glass-fronted bottling hall, Conny has the line illuminated in blue, and the robot runs without crates. Now that’s a true showman!

“It’s a dream, the way the robot dances round in a circle.”

“We now, of course, also have quite a different beer quality in the bottles”, says Conny. “The ageing process inside the bottle has been further delayed. We don’t use pasteurisation, neither flash nor otherwise, and offer our beers with a best-before period of six months. This is something that we would no longer have been able to achieve with the old line. I’m jolly glad that now I’ve got a complete bottling line, all from one vendor, and from Krones at that. And I’m not disappointed about anything, in no way. Rather, I’m astonished at all the things that were done for me. Needless to say: we now have sufficient scope in our bottling kit, and we’ve already received the first inquiries for contract-bottling. Yesterday, for example, we filled 60,000 bottles – without any overtime, just two of us in single-shift operation. Quite honestly: that’s a dream, when you go in there where the line is, and you know that a long time ago you started off with a scrubbing brush, and now you see a robot dancing in a circle”, says an overjoyed Conny.

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