Saturday, June 14, 2008

Northern Germany Excursion

Well, I made it back to VA, but I still owe you guys a couple of posts. Here's the run down on our final excursion: First, we arrived in Stralsund and toured the Stralsunder Brauerei. Perhaps the smallest production brewery I saw in Germany, Stralsunder is an innovative regional brewery specializing in dark beers and packing beer in special displays for brewing giants such as InBev. By the way, I say "special" a lot now. It's the German default word whenever they're unsure of which adjective to use.

Next stop, was Malteurop, a massive tower maltery in Rostock. This was a fascinating visit and we got to see much more of the plant than we did on the trip to Weyermann. They even let us take pictures and walk inside (very briefly) of a hot kiln. Here's the view from the roof and the inside of a germination box. I also got some good video of a conical steep being filled and aerated.

The next bus stop was Flensburg, where we toured KRONES and witnessed the construction of massive bottle washers. When in Flensburg, of course you've got to visit the Flensburger Brauerei, famous for their swing top bottles. Ever wonder how they get the swing tops onto bottles? Well, now you can watch right here. I wanted to put this one to circus music, but there's no time for that so just make your own.

On to Hamburg, where Holsten Brauerei wins the award for control room that looks the most like a bank. They made us wear funny suits and hats and they have just about every kind of filter there, except a cross flow membrane. We also saw the massive screens of a huge horizontal leaf filter being replaced post repair. Also in Hamburg, we visited a division of KHS, which manufactures machines for blowing PET bottles.

The final day included a fascinating trip to barley breeding company, KWS Lochow. These guys have an enormous influence on the malt that brewers end up having access to, and it was amazing to learn how little communication and integration there is between brewers and barley breeders. It takes about 15 years to introduce a new barley strain to the market. Our last stop was the massive Hasseroeder (InBev) Brauerei. There was a antique bus full of senior citizens leaving when we got there. Here's a shot of the brewhouse and the bottling line.

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