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Gloriously glacial gratification

We’ve found something again. And we were so pleased with it that we want to share it here with our readers: a rediscovered article about the Mack Brewery, which appeared in the 4/18 issue of the magazine. Here, however, unfortunately, we only have space for a summary of the article; you can read the full-length version in the magazine.

Over 300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, Mack has been brewing beer now for more than 140 years and can truly claim to be the world’s northernmost brewery. When it comes to brewing, the Mack Brewery in Norway has long since been putting its trust in Krones’ technology, most recently for canning as well. This means Krones is handling the brewery’s core remit, since cans account for over 90 per cent of total beer sales.

Tromsö is the traditional home of the Mack Brewery. It was founded back in 1877, by Ludwig Markus Mack, nephew of a brewmaster working in Bavaria. Today, Macks Ølbryggeri is the fourth-biggest brewery in Norway, and one of the strongest brands from the north of the country. It is still 100 per cent family-owned and is currently headed in the fifth generation by Managing Director Harald Bredrup, who together with his brother holds 40 per cent of the stock. The historic Mack brewing facility, which is located in the centre of Tromsö, still houses the administrative offices, the beer shop Kjeller 5 and the legendary Ølhallen tavern opened in 1928, which with its 67 taps is the longest array of dispensers in Northern Europe.

What’s more, at the turn of the millennium, Mack had here installed a micro-brewery, initially intended for trying out new flavours. In the times of the craft beer boom, however, it progressively developed a momentum of its own, and nowadays has more than 30 varieties of craft beer in its repertoire, some of them exclusively for serving in the Ølhallen, some of them bottled or canned for national and international sales. Thanks to buoyant demand, the craft brewery well-nigh tripled its production output last year, to its 1,200 hectolitres. “The craft beer wave has lastingly changed the consumption climate for beer, dissolved the traditional brand loyalties, and heightened consumers’ taste-awareness” believes Harald Bredrup. “Beer is in demand again. And with our main brewery we’ve been benefiting from this trend as well.”

Building a new brewery

Though the old brewery in Tromsö grew over the decades, space gradually became too limited, and the logistics increasingly expensive. Which meant that a few years ago Mack was confronting a key question: cease operations or build a complete new facility? The decision was swiftly taken: to invest in the brewery and upsize its capacities. So in 2012 Mack relocated its main production operations to Nordkjosbotn, about 70 kilometres to the south of Tromsö. Here, among the rather steep-sided fjord valleys, a sizeable level site was available. The surroundings are magnificent: at the end of Balsfjord and directly at the foot of the Lyngen Alps, an entirely new brewery was built for a capital investment of around 40 million euros.

Mack re-used some of the equipment from the old brewery, such as the fermentation and storage tanks, and parts of the filling kit. But the family firm also wanted to install new kit, such as the entire brewhouse. They opted for a CombiCube B rated at 100 hectolitres per brew, “the biggest CombiCube that Krones offers,” as Brewmaster Rune Lennart Andreassen proudly explains. In three-shift operation, ten brews a day can now be produced there from Monday to Friday.

“When conceiving the new brewery, we attached high priority to having everything performed on a single level. So there are no elevators. Mack fills its beer mainly in cans. For this purpose, the company had previously been operating an obsolete, combined line for bottles and cans with a low rating. Which is why replacement of the canning line had paramount priority. Here, following its choice of vendor for the brewhouse, Mack once again opted for Krones.

Optimistic for the future

Mack produces 170,000 hectolitres of beer in all, of which around six per cent is exported, plus another 150,000 hectolitres of soft drinks, principally from the Coca-Cola portfolio. The brewery thus generates a turnover of about 60 million euros.

Sales have been additionally boosted since Mack expanded its distribution network in 2014. Up to then, the brewery had been represented solely in the north of Norway (up to around 500 kilometres to the south of Tromsö), where it had achieved a market share of around 50 per cent. By entrusting its distribution to wholesalers, Mack is now available nationwide, even in Oslo 2,000 kilometres to the south. “Our company has been completely transformed since the new brewery was built: firstly from a regional to a nationally distributing and additionally export-oriented brewery, secondly from a brewery with obsolete technology and complicated process sequences to a facility with state-of-the-art kit and clear structures,” is how Harald Bredrup summarises the events of the last few years.

And the results speak for themselves: the beer output alone has grown by 90 per cent since 2012. “I’m very optimistic that we shall keep on growing,” says Harald Bredrup. “With this final phase of our business plan, we’ve now created an excellent foundation, and can turn to innovative ideas for the future.”


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