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    Steinecker brewhouse for Little Creatures
    Steinecker brewhouse for Little Creatures

      A spectacular location, a great idea, and brilliant beer.

      Little Creatures, headquartered in Fremantle, has since the turn of the century been driving forward the craft beer movement in Australia. At the brewery in this picturesque fishing port, Little Creatures uses Krones equipment throughout its entire brewing operations. All the kit has been integrated in a beer hall with a restaurant. Because the beer is so popular, a second brewery is going into operation in 2013, this time on the south-east coast, an impressive 3,400 kilometres away from Fremantle. Once again featuring Krones technology throughout.

      From a penal colony to a gold mine

      Fremantle was founded by the English back in the early 19th century as a colony port 20 kilometres to the south of Perth further inland, Western Australia’s state capital.

      “Born to brew Pale Ale”

      It’s precisely here that Little Creatures found a home as well, with space for 500 to 600 guests. In the “beer garden”, you sit directly at the seafront, looking at a replica of the Duyfken, a Dutch sailing ship from the 16th century. And you can also make yourself comfortable in the renovated warehouse, at the bar or at one of the many tables, from which you can watch the pizza baker plying his trade at the wood-fired oven, or the cooks in the open-plan kitchen, listen to the background music, and drink a beer or two, of course.

      “Krones was the right choice for us.”

      And the brewers have more than enough to do. They produce over 100,000 hectolitres of beer annually in the Fremantle brewery. In the early years, they used a 50-hectolitre brewhouse, but that soon became too small, because demand continued high for the specialty beer, which is sold nationwide.

      At that time, the beer market was dominated by two brewing conglomerates, Fosters and Lion, which together accounted for around 96 per cent of total production output. The third in this troika was the mid-tier Coopers Brewery from South Australia. So new styles of beer found ready acceptance among consumers. In 2006, Little Creatures requested initial quotations from three German brewhouse manufacturers. “Krones was the right choice for our brewhouse. We had already been quite impressed with a Krones bottling line back then”, says Brewmaster Russell Gosling.

      A fondness for the hopback

      In 2008, the brewhouse was installed, rated at 100 hectolitres of cold cast wort and designed for ten brews a day. It is composed of a Variomill wet mill, a mash tun, a lauter tun, a heat-holding tank, a Stromboli wort boiler with a vapour condenser, and an energy storage tank, warm and cold water tanks, plus a whirlpool. One special feature is a hopback, in which natural hops are added.

      Together with the brewhouse, Krones supplied nine cylindro-conical fermentation tanks, holding 400 hectolitres each, the yeast propagator, the entire piping and a CIP system. To enable the costs of the new brewhouse to be shouldered, Lion increased its stake in Little Creatures to 34 per cent. In 2010, Little Creatures added a TFS filter to the process technology, plus a buffer tank, a cooling system and a carbonator from Krones.

      Unpasteurised bottling

      Little Creatures had relocated its kegging and bottling operations to a separate hall a few kilometres away. Here, a Krones line rated at 12,000 bottles an hour runs in two-shift operation, with a Kosme bulk glass depalletiser, a Krones Mecafill filler monobloc-synchronised with a rinser and a closer, a Kosme labeller with a cold-glue station for body and neck labels, and in the dry end a cluster packer, a Kosme carton erector, a Krones Blitzpac packer and a Kosme palletiser.

      The east coast wants more beer

      But, magical though the location at Fremantle’s harbour indubitably is, it was not a viable long-term solution by itself. Around 22 million people live in Australia, but only around two million of them in its westernmost state. An estimated 80 per cent of all Australians need not more than half an hour to get from their home to the sea. In other words, most Australians live on the coastal areas. Not ideal for distributing the beers, particularly as demand on the east coast as well continued to rise.

      New turnkey brewery in Geelong

      Given the enormous distances in Australia, the decision wasn’t all that difficult: in 2011 Little Creatures placed an order with Krones to build a complete brewery, including all the utilities, in Geelong near Melbourne on the south-east coast, about a day’s journey away from both Sydney and Adelaide. In 2012, this project was given a boost when the Lion Group acquired 100 per cent of Little Creatures. The brewery is designed for an annual capacity of 250,000 hectolitres, with an option for upsizing to 400,000 hectolitres. The 200-hectolitre Steinecker brewhouse features the very latest technology, including the EquiTherm energy storage system, combined with a unit-type cogeneration plant. The package is rounded off by a Krones bottling line.

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