Pittsburgh’s Church Brew Works to Add Bottling Line

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After seven years in business, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Church Brew Works is ready to add bottled beers to its product line. Church Brew Works has operated as a brewpub and restaurant since opening, but brewmaster Bryan Pearson told the Pittsburgh Business Times that bottled beer was “something we’ve talked about from the beginning.” For owner Sean Casey, the bottling line may represent another step towards a more distant goal of growing the business to the point of building a larger, dedicated brewing facility off-premise. But for now, the bottling line will occupy its own corner in the century-old former St. John the Baptist Church. Casey financed the line through the earnings of the restaurant, and bought the equipment used. The bottling machine came from Philadelphia’s Yards brewery, and the labeling line was bought used from a John Harvard brewpub in Atlanta that was closing its doors. Casey saved at least 25 percent, even as much as 40 percent, by buying the equipment used instead of new. Church Brew Works will offer its light-bodied Celestial Gold lager and its Pipe Organ Pale Ale in bottles to start, in a first run of 500 cases to be offered in November. The brewery is looking to get bottled-beer production up to 600 cases monthly, with hoped-for annual sales at 7,500 to 8,000 cases, or around 600 barrels of the brewery’s production. For Church Brew Works, getting into bottling is not without its challenges. The small brewer runs as a relatively high cost-of-operations business, and doesn’t plan to add staff to run the bottling line. Instead, the current staff will be cross-trained to handle the additional chores. For Casey the payoff will be the ability to sell bottled beers for his customers to take with them and to pick up in shops and taverns, offering them an alternative to what he derides as “mass-produced swill.”
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German Beer Market: Slow Decline To Continue

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The economy’s weak, the population is aging, and concerns are growing about alcohol consumption in general. Welcome to modern Germany, where the beer market continued its decline in 2002, dropping at its highest annual rate in more than a decade. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Brewers marketing beer-based mixed drinks saw a 30 percent increase during the year, according to a new report from Canadean. German consumption per capita is still nearly 60 per cent higher than the western European average, and the German beer market remains Europe’s largest and the third largest worldwide, but the German brewing industry continues to operate in an old-fashioned, highly fragmented market. Germany boasts a huge number of breweries at 1200, three quarters of all breweries based in the EU, but their combined output is only around a third of EU beer production. The long-term outlook is for a continuing drop in the number of breweries, due to declining consumption, closures, mergers and acquisitions. German consumers have tended to move away from alcoholic drinks in general; healthier options such as mineral water and juice are on the rise, and Germany now consumes more coffee than beer. Demographics are also reducing the numbers of the 15-to-34-year-olds, the core beer drinking market, which is shrinking as the German population ages. The result is a seven percent drop in beer consumption since 1998. Trends that grew beer consumption in previous decades are no longer driving an overall increase in numbers. The Pilsner segment, which grew rapidly from the 1970s to the early 1990s, still dominates the scene – 67 per cent of German beers sold are of the Pilsner type. Following reunification, brands produced in the “New States” in the eastern regions of the country have grown, but not enough to turn around the overall market.
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