Rupp-Bräu in Lauenau, Lower Saxony, in the district of Schaumburg, is committed to a tradition that goes back more than 160 years – brewing beer, serving it in the brewery's own restaurant and supplying beer lovers at home with hop drinks. At first glance, one might think that this is nothing out of the ordinary. Breweries with brewery inns attached are not uncommon in Germany. However, behind the successful concept of the family business, there is an astonishing amount of entrepreneurial agility in addition to the art of brewing: Tradition and the use of technical innovations form an impressive symbiosis in this brewery. This benefits the environment, among other things. Most recently, the draft2go mobile dispensing unit from SCHÄFER Container Systems, a manufacturer of returnable container systems for beverages as well as IBCs and special containers, was successfully tested in a pilot project and subsequently integrated into the multichannel distribution concept.
Since 1861, the Rupp family in Lauenau has been brewing Rupp'sche beer in the traditional way, which is known far beyond the region of Hanover. The founder of the brewery was Sebastian Rupp from Eitensheim near Ingolstadt in Bavaria. He introduced the type of beer brewing common there to Lauenau as well. Today, the Rupp-Bräu brewery is the oldest brewery in operation in the district of Schaumburg and one of the oldest breweries in Lower Saxony.
Even though the German Beer Purity Law of 1516 has not been binding for German breweries for several years now, only water, malt, hops and yeast are used for the brewing process at Rupp-Bräu. The beers are only filtered after completion of fermentation and maturation, but not pasteurised or stabilised. The result is fresh, lively beers that are not only served at Brauhaus Felsenkeller, but also in over 100 other pubs, restaurants and hotels in the region.
"For us, it goes without saying that our beers are brewed in compliance with the German Beer Purity Law of 1516," says Thomas Rupp, owner and managing director of the fifth-generation family business. The quality of the brewed beers comes from the use of classic brewing methods with open fermentation and long storage times. The latter leads to mature, aroma-rich beers, as opposed to industrial production in the shortest possible time.
Special aroma hops are used, whereas conventional bitter hops are not. Usually, aroma hops are characterised by a mild, pleasant aroma, higher polyphenol contents and alpha values below 10 percent. Subjective perception triggers descriptions such as fruity, floral, spicy and herbal. The special flavour of aroma hops is mainly due to low alpha acid values and higher hop oil contents. There's a small aftertaste as aroma hops are more expensive to buy than bitter hops.
In total, five types of beer are brewed and offered on tap. The range is rounded off with Pilsener, Doppelbock, Weizen and Pale Ale. Pale Ale is a light to copper-coloured, top-fermented beer. It belongs to the family of ales originating from England, but differs from the classic style by using lighter malts.
The Rupp family business generates about two-thirds of its beer sales by supplying third-party catering establishments and the beverage trade. One third is generated in the brewer's own inn, through the catering it offers and direct sales. This requires appropriate containers, adapted to the customers and their applications. That is why the brewery has been relying on SCHÄFER Container Systems since 2006. Both 30 and 50-litre PLUS KEGs made of stainless steel are in circulation. They have also had positive experiences with the freshKEG, which has now been replaced by the new product from draft2go.
With the development of draft2go and draft2go+ in 2021, SCHÄFER Container Systems paved the way for new catering concepts. The unique selling point of mobile dispensing units is maximum flexibility due to independence from electricity and gas for cooling and tapping respectively. Tapping is performed sustainably from a reusable keg with one of the well-known fitting systems. draft2go has a standard flat fitting while draft2go+ is available with flat fitting, 3-edge fitting, basket fitting and draft fitting from the manufacturer.
At the heart of the dispensing units is a 10-litre KEG based on the proven two-chamber principle with stainless steel bladder and integrated CO2 supply. The stylish three-part EPP insulation efficiently shields the KEG against thermal influences: At an ambient temperature of 25 °C and a beer temperature of 3 °C, the mobile dispensing unit keeps its liquid product chilled for at least eight hours (max. 8 °C). According to the manufacturer, the beer quality is maintained for up to 30 days after tapping because the absorption of oxygen is avoided.
Thus, these mobile dispensing systems form a fully-fledged alternative to permanently installed dispensing systems, with the advantage that they do not require an energy supply and can be used anywhere, at any time. It is precisely this independence that creates new opportunities for beer sales, especially in the field of outdoor and event catering or in the context of private celebrations.
Of course, the aim of these dispensing systems is not to replace stationary dispensing equipment. Rather, they open up new sales channels as mobile variants. Whether at a home game on the football pitch or as a mini dispensing unit at a barbecue in the garden, they make the bar mobile or, if desired, allow the guest himself to be the barman. At the same time, mobile dispensing systems open up new possibilities for beverage producers to offer their products in an event-oriented manner.
But the details are also attractive – with draft2go, for example, the tap lever, the stylish insulation and the KEG can all be branded. This allows marketing opportunities to be exploited even among local beverage specialists with high brand loyalty potential.
Practical handling without additional cleaning effort is also important. Therefore, the draft2go tap head is connected to the standard flat fitting via a disposable line. The latter enables KEG filling, both manually and mechanically, by means of an adapter attachment in existing systems.
For draft2go+, on the other hand, a stainless steel tap head with compensator is available. This makes it possible to regulate the throughput speed and allows adaptive foaming of the tapped beverage, as is desired for beer. In addition, the Plus version has an external pressure reducer with a non-return valve, which can be used to individually regulate the carbon dioxide content in the tapped beverage.
In addition, the 10-litre KEGs of the two systems can be emptied of residue in conventional dispensing systems if necessary. The mobile dispensing unit is rounded off by a dishwasher-safe drip tray and a stainless steel drip tray.
"Tap fresh beer, anytime, anywhere," is the slogan of Tobias Wirth, Sales Manager of SCHÄFER Container Systems KEG in relation to the versatile dispensing unit. He continues, "Our products are primarily aimed at breweries that want to provide their customers with a highly mobile and self-sufficient dispensing unit. This benefits end consumers, breweries and enterprising commercial customers alike, as clearly demonstrated by its use at Rupp-Bräu."
Thomas Rupp is also very enthusiastic about draft2go. He explains that it was not necessary to convert the machines at Rupp-Bräu to fill the KEGs. He particularly rates the option of professional tapping for first-time users, which has been met with an extraordinarily positive response from his customers. Especially since the 10-litre stainless steel barrel is the perfect container size for private consumption, be it at a barbecue with friends or for club celebrations.
The family business passes on the draft2go with cooling sleeve to the end consumers already pre-cooled. The uninterrupted cold chain means that customers can start tapping immediately after receiving the KEG. But there is no need to rush, because the contents remain suitably chilled for hours. Users praise the easy handling, as the beer is also always tapped with the optimum amount of carbon dioxide. Visually, this gives a beautiful head and guarantees an unadulterated taste experience up to when it is emptied within the 30 days.
Rupp explains one advantage of draft2go as follows: "No one can experiment on the barrel. The pressure does not need to be adjusted manually. All parameters are optimally set before delivery so that tapping is easy." Thanks to his positive practical experience, Thomas Rupp is highly enthusiastic about the new system. The switch from freshKEG to draft2go was correspondingly effortless.
Rupp-Bräu has introduced a proprietary deposit system for draft2go. The deposit surcharge is based on the value of the dispensing units, thus guaranteeing their return. Many customers reserve the mobile dispensing system in advance, others buy quite spontaneously, especially during the outdoor season, provided that a draft2go is available. Otherwise, curiosity wins and they pre-order for a future date.
After a dispensing unit is returned, it is thoroughly cleaned, especially the tap and keg, and the disposable line is replaced. The small barrels are then refilled and the cycle begins again.
The customer benefits from a taste experience fresh from the barrel that they can enjoy time and again thanks to the full service package. The dispensing system with a 10-litre barrel is the perfect container size for private consumption – handling is comparable to a crate of beer in terms of weight, and is effortless thanks to the ergonomic handles. If the barrel is not drunk dry during a barbecue, for example, then it goes back into the pantry or refrigeration area. The content retains its filling quality within the expiry date within a period of up to 30 days after tapping first starts.
Overall, customer-specific solutions are becoming more and more important, including in the beer industry, especially due to the trend here towards increasing the variety of beers and the customisation of consumer behaviour. Here, draft2go and draft2go+ tap systems certainly offer a great deal of potential for bringing the beverage and/or the brand even closer to the customer. The main advantages are the high and consistent quality of the beverage in the container and the tapping experience itself.