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Digital brewery operation in focus

Thanks to a controlled bottling process with SIMATIC S7-1200, beer from the Störtebeker Braumanufaktur tastes just as good at home as it does on draft.

An ideal souvenir

In Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie, the Störtebeker brewery offers a wide selection of beers that have been developed and brewed on the premises – to enjoy in the restaurants and bars or to take away.

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The establishments at the Elbphilharmonie offer a choice of as many as 17 different beer types fresh from the barrel, each served at the ideal temperature for optimum enjoyment. The tastes range from lemony-fresh to chocolatey-bitter. Brewed in keeping with the ancient tradition of Germany's Reinheitsgebot (purity law), the beers contain no additives. Aromas such as bitter chocolate, Rumtopf (literally "rum pot", fruits preserved in rum and sugar), and grapefruit are created solely from selected raw ingredients such as special hops or malts – and by expert aging in wooden barrels. As one example, brewmaster Jens Reineke created the limited-edition Nordik-Porter by aging the product in antique port barrels.

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Anyone choosing a Baltik-Lager, Roggen-Weizen (rye wheat beer), Scotch-Ale, or any of the company's 14 other specialties – and seeking to enjoy the same fresh, draft beer experience at home – can also purchase a growler to go. These brown-handled bottles have attained somewhat of a cult status among the American craft beer community and are now being seen in Germany, too. Störtebeker's 0.85 liter growler was designed in cooperation with a glass manufacturer and is currently available exclusively at the Elphi. This barrel-fresh beer is bottled using a new, custom bottler – with no loss in quality. Growlers make for an ideal ­souvenir from the Elbphilharmonie.

The very finest in Hanseatic beer tradition

Arktik-Ale, Eis-Lager, Nordik-Porter, Polar-Weizen: These are just a few of the 17 varieties of beer offered by ­Störtebeker, the brewing specialist based in Stralsund, in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

The  company's beer selection has achieved widespread success well beyond regional borders and Störtebeker's beers are now available throughout Germany in numerous retail outlets as well as in bars and restaurants – including the prestigious Elbphilharmonie, currently regarded as the number one place to be in Hamburg, Germany. The "Elphi" – as it is commonly referred to – is a multi-purpose venue comprising concert halls, a hotel, and retail outlets, among others. It is also home to The Plaza, a public viewing platform located at 37 meters above ground level, which is popular for its panoramic views.

Störtebeker is an owner-operated business committed to upholding 800 years of brewing tradition that extends back to the time of the Hanseatic League. This Northern Germany brewer combines age-old recipes with new, ­creative brewing ideas. These attributes are fully demonstrated in three prominent Störtebeker outlets at Hamburg's new landmark venue: The Deck & Deli, located on The Plaza of the Elbphilharmonie; a restaurant known for its fifth-floor extended bar; and the brewery's large-scale flagship ­location, Taste & Shop, located on the sixth floor of the complex.

Globally used technology

The growler bottling station – which can accommodate up to 21 different beer specialties – originates from Austria. It was developed by brewery equipment supplier Alfred Gruber and has been tested and proven to be effective worldwide in numerous applications.

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Top breweries in Europe, and especially in North America, rely on the technical know-how and expertise of this family business based near Salzburg. As with other bottle and barrel filling machinery from Gruber, the growler bottler is automated by SIMATIC. The global trend toward high-end microbrewing has created a boom for the Austrian company, whose high-quality products are in great demand globally – including in some of the world's most remote locations. "What counts for us is robustness and availability, and SIMATIC delivers both in the most impressive way. Worldwide availability of SIMATIC components and the facility for remote diagnosis saves us from having to travel long distances – if customers happen to encounter a problem," comments Alfred Gruber, the second-generation head of the company.

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The bottler is operated by the SIMATIC HMI KP300 Basic Panel. In the control cabinet, a SIMATIC S7-1200 controller ensures that the beer tastes just as good at home as it does on draft at the bar. The growler is first rinsed with water, and then a predefined process of CO2 flushing creates an oxygen-free atmosphere inside the bottle. This first step is particularly important, because any oxygen would result in unwanted oxidation of the beer, which would impact taste quality. CO2 is then fed in again, thereby pressurizing the growler to the saturation pressure of the specific beer. This prevents the CO2 dissolved in the beer from degassing and foaming during bottling. The bottling process itself is controlled by means of valves on the basis of two pressure measurements – one in the beer line and another in the bottle. Lastly, an inductive flow meter ensures that the 0.85 liter capacity is precisely filled. Reineke and Gruber also have collaboratively designed and built a small, portable bottler that accommodates up to six beers, to bring to trade fairs and other events – and for use with exclusive partners in the restaurant and bar industries. Its functionality, automation system, and means of operation are identical to that of a full-scale bottling line.

The brewery of the future will be digital

The success of Störtebeker's specialty beers is a result of the high level of artisanal skill among its brewers and\brewmasters. Even prior to the opening of the ­Elbphil­harmonie, the demand from restaurants, bars, and retail outlets had been growing so rapidly that the company has needed to continually invest in new systems and ­technology at its Stralsund location.

We are looking to become even faster and more efficient in the future in order to meet the changing needs and wishes of consumers.

Jens Reineke, Brewmaster Störtebeker Braumanufaktur

"We will be consistently implementing the concept of Industrie 4.0 in all our machinery in the future," Reineke asserts, and he cites as an example: "The energy efficiency of many subplants has been optimized to such an extent that now savings of just a few percentage points is possible. It is only by gaining a comprehensive overview of all energy data, combined with intelligent connectivity throughout the operations, that concepts can be developed which truly deliver benefits." The aim in this context is to achieve almost total decar­bonization of the brewery and to conserve resources as much as possible – especially in regards to the high-grade raw materials used.

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In the near future, other areas the company will be optimizing with the aid of digi­tali­zation are its bottling, packing, and logistics procedures. "In those areas especially, we are looking to become even faster and more efficient in the future in order to meet the changing needs and wishes of consumers in our ­wide-ranging markets," says Reineke. The enthusiasm with which the brewmaster talks about the future makes it clear: artisanal craft and digitalization are not contradictory but in fact complementary to each other. Simatic is a core element of the requirement specifications sent out to suppliers when it comes to automation components. "After all," Reineke concludes, "integrated data management is the foundation stone of any digital business, and that is just easier to establish with a unified system."

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