His love of beer was sparked by his famous father: Robert Plant, lead singer of the British rock band Led Zeppelin, began taking his son Logan with him to the pubs of the British West Midlands when Logan was just 18 years old. By the time he was 20 Plant Junior wanted to open his own brewery – but instead first set off traveling the world with his band. While on tour in the USA, Logan discovered local craft beer – and was so excited by it that the idea of starting a brewery was rekindled. He subsequently opened a pub in the London suburb of Haggerston where he sold his own home brew. The project then took off at rocket speed, with the Beavertown company that emerged from these humble beginnings recently constructing a huge new brewery. KHS technology has played a major role in this story of success.
Logan Plant performed his first brewing experiments in his kitchen less than ten years ago, using a rice pan and tea urn to make beer which he initially sold in his own pub. According to Beavertown Brewery, it is now the second-largest brewery in London – one of over 100 in the British capital. The brewer also operates several other facilities, among them a microbrewery in the local stadium belonging to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. In 2020 the enterprise saw its most recent addition: a totally new production site in the North London borough of Enfield. “This is one of the most ambitious projects to have emerged on the British brewery scene for many years,” says Nikola Marjanovic, operations director at Beavertown Brewery. The cost of investment ran to around 40 million British pounds, with the aim of the project to build the most modern brewery in Great Britain – and one that gives visitors an absolutely unique experience. KHS has made a considerable contribution to this endeavor.
It was clear quite early on that Beavertown Brewery had chosen the Dortmund turnkey supplier to support it in its ambitious undertaking. “It’s a known fact in our branch of industry that KHS has extensive expertise and decades of experience in turnkey kegging and canning lines,” Marjanovic continues. Right from the early days of the project Beavertown Brewery was in close contact with Andy Carter, managing director of KHS in Great Britain and Ireland, and his team. After all, in order to meet the fast-growing demand for the company’s own craft beer brands such as Neck Oil Session IPA or Heavy Gravity Hazy IPA, a momentous decision had been made – namely to build a completely new production plant. Industry giant Heineken was approached for support; they first held 49% and now own 100% of the shares. “Despite this, we still operate very independently and have ambitious growth targets. KHS and Heineken are the ideal partners to help us reach our goals,” smiles Marjanovic.
To date, the percentage increase in the amount of beer produced has run into double figures each year; in 2023, with an output of 360,000 hectoliters, the craft brewer aims to boost this further to around 30%. So that the challenges this presents can be perfectly mastered, state-of-the-art filling and packaging technology is of key importance. Here, the German systems provider has proved to be a reliable partner.
“It was a great advantage that we could source the turnkey lines from a single supplier. KHS offered us a holistic package tailored to our requirements that included not just the right machines for us but also concrete project implementation. Not only is the technology outstanding; we were also totally convinced by the service provided and indeed the entire KHS team,” states Marjanovic.
The new premises were designed to center on the keg and beverage can container segments. The instructions were plain and simple: boost performance capacity to generate higher sales and prepare or directly configure production at the new site for further growth. “Our systems are flexibly adapted to cater for future requirements,” says Andy Carter. “Thanks to their modular design, KHS machines can be easily retrofitted to meet a new increase in capacity or enable any adjustments that may need to be made to the secondary packaging, for example. A high standard of hygiene and low use of resources round off the list of requirements.”
The brewery ultimately invested in a turnkey canning line from KHS. The integrated Innofill Can DVD filler that includes a Ferrum seamer is designed to process up to 33,000 330-milliliter containers an hour. For customers with a higher production capacity the machine is available with an output of up to 135,000 cans per hour. “We’re helping Beavertown Brewery to grow on all fronts and creating continuous added value with line efficiency and a low use of resources,” Carter states.
The client is particularly enthused by the high product quality on the high-performance filler. “As our beers aren’t pasteurized, optimum hygiene ensures their high standard of quality,” Marjanovic claims. The low consumption of CO2 has proved just as convincing, as has the low oxygen pickup thanks to a new CO2 purging process.
The line is supplemented by the Innoket Neo labeling unit and a fully-automatic KHS Innopack Kisters WP Advanced wrap-around packaging machine. With the aforementioned flexible and powerful self-adhesive labeling station Beavertown Brewery has considerably cut its time to market. At the same time, smaller batches can be produced more cost effectively as no large quantities of printed cans are kept in stock. The packaging and palletizing section is rounded off by the efficient Innopal PB N palletizer and Innopal LD Z depalletizer.
In addition to beverage canning, the brewery also trusts in the decades of expertise KHS has amassed in the processing of kegs. It has thus also invested in the Innokeg Transomat 6/1 Duo, a keg washing and racking system with two docked linear machines. This manages up to 160 kegs per hour holding between 30 and 50 liters and includes options that can expand capacity to up to 240 kegs an hour. The machinery gives optimum results with its pulsed sprays and therefore ensures microbiological safety and product purity. Product quality is further enhanced by counterflow cleaning in the pre-washer. The Innokeg Transomat 6/1 Duo is of central importance for production as the brewery realizes 75% of its sales through pubs in Great Britain. Beavertown Brewery also exports to Italy, France and Sweden. “We make great demands of the quality of our products. With KHS’ proven technologies we perfectly satisfy our strict requirements in both container segments,” explains Marjanovic.
The new kegging line also scores several times over standard market systems. For instance, the conveyor belt in the modular Innokeg Transversal pre-washer segment runs through the middle of the processing machine. Should operators not need to make use of this function because they process one-way kegs, it can be deactivated. The kegs are then conveyed to the next machine without being processed. The compact system also makes for a low footprint in the production shop. Furthermore, the patented Direct Flow Control (DFC) filling system saves up to 40% CO2 compared to conventional setups; with this, KHS again channels its expertise to help customers reach their sustainability targets. Incidentally, the latter is a topic that takes top priority at Beavertown Brewery, with the Brits not only investing in resource-saving KHS technology but also in a completely new water treatment plant. Solar technology is also to be installed.
The production site was commissioned within the agreed time frame – despite considerable restrictions imposed by both Brexit and the corona pandemic. “KHS’ intelligent ReDiS remote maintenance system was of enormous benefit for us here,” Marjanovic emphasizes. In many cases, this allows remote system fault analyses and troubleshooting to be carried out without service engineers having to undertake costly and time-consuming journeys to the relevant site. Instead, engineers at KHS’ head office can access all connected KHS components through network connections.
By being heavily involved in the greenfield project right from the start, KHS was again able to successfully complete the undertaking as a reliable partner to its customer. “The fact that we were able to realize everything so quickly was a great achievement by all involved,” Marjanovic smiles. “At the same time, our team of youthful employees was able to benefit from KHS’ wealth of expertise during this project.” This experience and the trusting exchange of information on both sides are two more reasons why the implementation of this project has been so successful, the operations director believes. “The new production site with its KHS lines is a real flagship for the brewing industry in London.”