Take a grain of tradition, a cupful of courage and a handful of passion. What you get when you follow this recipe is currently quite literally on everyone’s lips: craft beer. But what exactly is craft beer, where does it come from and above all – what has Krones got to do with it?
The beard is growing way below the three-day mark, the hair under the trucker cap is modishly long, and artistic tattoos are peeking out from under the right shirtsleeve. Two young men wearing jeans, hoodies and hats enter the Krones building in Neutraubling. They don’t look typically “Kronese” at all. After a few minutes, the puzzle is solved: they aren’t employees, they’re clients. Storybook-type craft brewers. But actually there’s no fiction involved here – the craft beer scene doesn’t want to be stereotyped, it has many facets. Its philosophy is on the one hand guided by the motto of “back to our roots”: a young generation of brewers rummage through their great-grandfathers’ beer recipes and breathe new life into them. On the other hand, craft brewers are also keen on experimentation, they are independent and don’t want to be pigeon-holed. What we’re dealing with here is taste diversity and unusual styles of brewing – and beer, of course, we’re dealing with beer above anything else.
And beer it is indeed that has brought the two young men from Berlin to Neutraubling, where they meet Felix Will. He is a Krones trainee who supports the project management team for brewery equipment. In a consultancy meeting, he is tasked with drawing up a concept together with the two brewers, featuring suitable kit for their first own craft brewery. Initially, it looks like the collision of two worlds: shop-floor reality meets dry theory? Perish the thought!
Felix himself has a degree in brewing from Weihenstephan and since March has been with Krones on a month trainee programme. During this phase of his training, he is familiarising himself with many facets of the company, establishing contacts with clients, and in his own first projects is looking after not only classical breweries but also craft brewers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. What Felix particularly appreciates about his traineeship is the opportunity to witness at close hand the creation of a new brewery and the very first brew. Because he, too, is contributing more than just knowledge picked up in the lecture halls: in the “Bierschmiede Motten (Moths’ Beer Crucible”) – the cellar of his parents’ home – Felix had already been brewing his own beer when he was still at university. Back then, he used big cooking pots as brew kettles, in which he created some quite out-of-the-ordinary recipes. A few years later, he now leaves brewing to Krones’ customers and is able to accompany them on their way from their initial ideas for a recipe right through to the turnkey brewery.
Quality before quantity – that’s the creative brewers’ motto. And Krones offers them exactly what they need: instead of cooking pots, the group from Neutraubling offers the young brewers high-tech solutions, tailor-made for their requirements. A comprehensive brewery concept for brew sizes from 5 to hectolitres enables the brewers to play an inventive game with ingredients. And where would the craft beer scene be without cans? Wherever the goal is to get the amber nectar safely into the can or bottle, Krones offers the brewers state-of-the-art technology: as the latest addition to the can-filler family, the Craftmate is regarded as the perfect companion in the low output range. You see, this is precisely where Krones scores: the firm’s portfolio is huge, with something in it for both small and big players – and that, by the way, applies not only for brewers, but for the beverage industry as a whole.
At Krones, brewers meet brewers. And while for one group the focus is on playing with malt, hops and yeast, for the other it’s all about technology. The trainee programme gives Felix an opportunity to start his professional career as a project manager at Krones, enabling him to combine his passion – which is brewing – and his job. As a specialist for brewery equipment, he will then, together with Krones’ clients, in the future as well be developing customised concepts, from the initial vision right through to the fully matured beer.