1300. Krombach documented
Krombach appears in -documents for the first time around 1300, and over the centuries had 100 to 200 inhabitants. Although evidence suggests that there were a number of diverse brewery establishments prior to this. It is referenced, in old accounts, that the charging of so-called “excises” took place.
These were alcohol taxes charged by the authorities at that time for the commercial sale of beer and wine. However, due to the higher transport costs, wine in Krombach was exactly twice as expensive as the beer produced locally.
1618. File memorandum about sale of alcoholic beverages
In 1618, documented in police bye-law, it states that anyone wanting to brew beer needed a licence from the public authorities. What is particularly interesting is that serving beer on draught was not permitted unless you owned a brewery and a malt kiln, ensuring that only those who produced the beer could sell product to consumers.
This demonstrates that the owners of inns also owned a brewery as well. It is likely that this was to ensure only quality product was served or that there was some form of control of beer production by the guild.
1803. Krombacher Brewery documented for the first time
Krombach is located favourably in terms of through traffic between Siegen-Nassauische and Cologne Sauerland. This through road in the direction of Cologne made extra teams of horses necessary creating the need for relay stations. These were provided in Krombach im Tal and Kleusheim auf der Höhe in the Cologne region. This was a long and thirsty journey which benefited the relay stations and stages.
The Krombacher Brewery is documented for the first time in 1803. It started life as a family brewery, well positioned on the through road. The brewery grew and began specialising in craft brewing. The brewery quickly gained in importance with reputation for good beer extending way beyond the small town of Krombach. As early as in 1829 they began supply to the Olpe Marksmen`s Festival, an arrangement that is still in place today. Back in those days, the order was around 25 Ohm, which is about 37 1/2 hectolitres in today’s measure.
1840. Industrial revolution reaching Siegerland
The industrial revolution also produced new, bigger classes of consumers who were also interested in beer. Karl Friedrich Schenck, former district magistrate and jurist in Siegerland, reported in his “Statistics of the former Principality of Siegen” that “due to the hard work the Siegen inhabitants are involved in - mining, iron and steel operations as well as in other trades, a large quantity of beer is drunk”.
In the course of the rapid industrialisation in Siegerland, the number of inhabitants in the Siegen district doubled within a mere 50 years (1850 - 1900). While the town of Siegen had 35 bars and public houses in 1806, by 1913 this number had grown to an impressive 103. In addition to this there were a number of other festive occasions when beer was drunk. For example, in Siegen – a town of then 30,000 inhabitants (1913) - there were some 400 active clubs and associations. In other words, there was a great sales opportunity.
1861. Railway connection in Siegerland
Increased expansion of the transport routes had an impact on business. In 1835, the first German railway was launched between Nuremberg and Fürth. The first freight: Beer casks. Alongside the refrigeration technology of Carl von Lindens, which made beer transportable and non-seasonal, the development of the railway network proved to be of enormous significance for marketing and exporting the product beer.
The ensuing decades saw boisterous growth and advancement that was to lead to installation of the complete German and European railway network. The Ruhr-Sieg railway line connected the ore region of Siegerland to the Ruhr area in 1861. And just as ore could be loaded, beer, too, could be sent to far distant sales territories.
1890. Pils in Krombach for the first time
At around 1890, the first brewing trials to produce Pils beer were documented in Krombach. It took a few years before the new-type brewing process was mastered, which saw the use of other types of hops and new fermentation processes. This resulted in new flavours which found favour with the public and rapidly gained their custom.
The Siegener Zeitung proudly took note in a nine-line announcement on 28th October 1901 that the “Krombacher Pilsener beer was gaining an increasing number of enthusiasts as a result of its quality” - and abroad as well. For, the newspaper went on; Norddeutsche Lloyd had ordered a „double waggon of Pilsener” which was to be delivered to Antwerp. It was only five years later that the Siegener Zeitung reported that Krombacher Pilsner had not only been “introduced to Siegerland Sauerland, but also far beyond, including to numerous places close to the major Dortmund breweries in the Westphalian coal-mining district”.
1900. A model brewery comes into existence
Industrialisation in the 19th century had a major impact on brewing. The discovery of fermentation – Pasteur; the development of artificial refrigeration – Linde; as well as the creation of the steam engine, revolutionised brewing technology and required new investment into the industry to modernise the breweries. This had a major impact on the many family-run breweries – in most instances they disappeared. Only those that were well funded and had specialised in producing quality beers survived. Krombacher Brewery was at the forefront. “The beer brewery is built in Crombach`s elevated, airy and most beautiful location...,” is how the description of the Krombacher Brewery begins in 1900.
Krombacher was a model brewery. Well equipped and ideally placed. It was quoted “The structural and mechanical installations form, as a result of their expedient arrangement and appointment, a harmonious whole and thus a model brewery.” Several steam engines were set up in the brewery and it was with their help that the energy needed was generated for the brewing process. The mash house was state-of-the-art in its day. It was extended to a double mash house in 1899 and was equipped for a malt brew mixture of about 32 hundredweight. With this equipment, in 1904, 34,908 hectolitres could be produced in Krombach. This grew to 39,908 hectolitres the following year. By 1910, the per-capita consumption was around 101 litres.
1908. The “Krombacher” brand is born
The beginnings of branding can be traced back to 1908, when, for the first time, a so-called “manufacturer’s mark” appeared in a small advertising brochure. This enabled the company’s own profile to be emphasised more strongly and more clearly in public. The benefits were obvious: Consumers were provided with an unequivocal feature for brand recognition. In selecting their own `emblem`, the brewers from Krombach adopted a clever approach, for they chose iconologically and semantically the category “home” as a point of reference, as the benchmark, for their consumers. They made consumers an emotionally first-class identification offer: product and region uniting.
The home region became synonymous with beer. And this is still true today. The emblem chosen was the Kindelsbergturm, or tower. The reference that the Brewery lies at the foot of the Kindelsberg lent itself to naturally suggest the landmark as the brewery’s emblem. Even though the `Krombacher` island has now become the mythological icon of Krombacher brand advertising. The Kindelsbergturm however, is still to be found on each bottle in the brewery’s coat-of-arms to the present day.
1939. Decline in production in the Second World War
From 1st January 1940, full-bodied and lager beers were no longer permitted to be marketed by state regulation. In the years that followed, the original gravity was systematically reduced and instead of the `Liberty beers`, light and weak beers started appearing in Krombach.
Allied bombing raids reduced Siegen and its industrial areas to rubble – just like the towns and cities along the Rhine and Ruhr.
1945. The fresh start
After the war, the economy was poor. The lack of fuel combined to the victorious allied powers meant that commerce between zones did not exist and traffic was scarce. Scarcity was rife everywhere. Getting hold of the absolute essentials was difficult and even long after the war; quota restrictions and rationing were the order of the day. This also applied to the Germans` most popular drink:
While total output before the war was 57.1 million hectolitres (per-capita consumption: 82.2 l), in 1948/49 just 11,03 1 million hectolitres were brewed (per-capita consumption: 25l). Production in Krombach in 1949 dropped to around 19,000 hl; this was rock bottom – afterwards however, it went steadily up!
1950’s. The economic miracle
The economic boom from 1950 to 1960 boosted the economy. New buildings, new machines and wide-ranging investments took place. This helped to gradually raise the standard of living. Things were looking up as people began to get back in the habit of enjoying a beer resulting in a growth of beer sales. While per-capita consumption amounted to just 25 litres in 1946, it had risen to 91 litres by 1959.
The Krombacher Brewery grew much faster than the market. Within a few years, the Krombacher Brewery had more than quadrupled the pre-war output of 1938/39 (51,457 hl). New fermenting cellars, new mash houses, a new bottle cellar, an extended car park and huge investment enabled the rapid advancement to one of the leading Pils brands possible.
1959. 180,000 casks and a total of 26 million bottles of beer
In 1959, the Krombacher Brewery filled 180,000 casks and a total of 26 million bottles of beer. According to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 1960, the quota of beer bottles had increased by approx. 50 %.
The customers, thus the FAZ, were mainly to be found in Siegerland, Sauerland as well as in the southern Ruhr region. Two thirds of the turnover went to consumers within a distance of 60 km around the brewery. Production continued to grow in the following years.
1967. 500,000 hectolitres
In 1967 an output of 500,000 hectolitres was celebrated in Krombach and, a mere five years later, the big moment had come: Over a Million hectolitres, 1,045 million in fact, could be brewed. The Krombacher Brewery now ranked among the largest Federal German private breweries. To safeguard this volume and to be able to expand further, they continued to invest in the future.
Innovation in terms of technology is constant and Krombacher has strived to be at the forefront of implementation being one of the first major breweries to introduce enclosed fermentation in large tanks at the beginning of the 1970’s.
1967. Friends, let us quaff a Krombacher
While the Ruhr region brewing giants of those days were mainly tying themselves down with the production of export beer, in Krombach they were realising the importance of concentrating and perfecting one product – a beer brewed à la pilsner. At an early stage, it was recognised that Krombacher was a branded product and well directed advertising was targeting consumers - firstly, in the home region, then incorporating the Ruhr region and Westphalia, and then finally broadcast on a national level.
The advertising, built cult status with the legendary forest ranger advertising. “Freunde, lasst uns einen krombachern!” (“Friends, let us quaff a Krombacher”). This original stance and brand positioning is as true today as back in the 60’s. Today, the well-known Krombacher Island in the lake, surrounded by the low mountain range forest, is the contemporary continuation of the original advertising campaign. This continuation is an important factor in Krombacher`s success.
1989. Change-over to new packaging
The newly developed 0.5 l package (bottle and crate) was introduced in 1989. Two-thirds of the annual investment flowed into the change-over to the new packaging. The 0.5l NRW bottle, which replaced the Euro bottle, had an even more interesting impact, packaged in the new 20-bottle crate which was produced exclusively from recyclable materials it underpinned the commitment to the environment.
The old Euro crates were crushed, melted down and, in an elaborate production process, injection moulded into the new shape. The old glass Euro bottles were recycled. The process was speeded up resulting in up to 500,000 crates leaving the brewery every day.
1990. Extension of the brewery premises
The impact of the national advertising resulted in an increase in distribution both in the trade on food service industry. The success of the brand was growing. By the end of the 1980’s the brewery had reached capacity. Further investment was needed. The bottling and transportation required a re-think with the result being a new plot of land occupying some 70,000 sq metres of space to cope with the bottling and loading.
By 1990 the 2 million hectolitre mark was surpassed. Also in this year the German Democratic Republic collapsed, and the Federal Republic of Germany had 18 million new consumers in five new Federal German states. This opened opportunities for Krombacher particularly in the East. It was only two years later that production reached 3.2 million and a further three years when it crashed through the 4.1 million mark.
1995. The first 11-bottle crate
In 1995, the Krombacher Brewery introduced unique new packaging with the introduction of the eleven-bottle crate. This proved immensely popular with both trade and consumers.
Many competitors followed suit but Krombacher had firmly positioned itself as the market leader, a position it still holds today in this segment.
1996. Krombacher in internet
Creativity has been prevalent throughout many aspects of the organisation with Krombacher marketing often leading the way.
In 1996 it broke new ground and took on the internet, being one of the first to embrace this new medium providing information and facts to consumers worldwide.
1999. Launching Krombacher alcohol-free
Krombacher never forget consumer is king. Throughout their journey great emphasis is placed on consumer research and behaviour. The eleven-bottle crate (1995) would not have made it to market without this understanding.
Therefore new packaging and new products are important drivers in maintain key market position. In 1999 Krombacher Pils alcohol-free appeared. Today it is the leading alcohol-free Pils in Germany.
2002. Rain Forest Campaign - respecting our environment
Krombacher has always had a special connection with its local environment. From the initial positioning of a home product to recycling initiatives that conserve energy and use less materials. In 2002 however, those environment credentials went global. A spectacular initiative was started with Günter Jauch and the WWF - The Krombacher Rain Forest Project was born. This initiative captured the hearts and minds of consumers in supporting the project that conserved 1 square metre of forest for every crate bought. In 2002 with sales of 4,865 million hectolitres a historical landmark was reached. The following year this grew to 5,440 million hectolitres, smashing through the 5 million hectolitre mark. It was in this year that Krombacher Pils became the market leader in the German Pils market.
By 2004, a record high could be recorded with 5,518 million hectolitres showing impressive growth for the third year in succession. Krombacher Pils alcohol-free (launched in 1999) and Krombacher Radler/shandy (launched in 2002) also became market leaders in their segments in this year. Despite tough competition, Krombacher Pils remained as the most popular premium beer brand in the following years. Each 10th Pils sold in Germany comes from the Siegerland by now and Krombacher Pils alcohol-free and Radler (shandy) have emerged as market leaders in their segment.
2005. New crate generation
Investment continued. In addition to product launches packaging was continually overhauled. Ten million new crates with “soft-touch” grips are incorporated into the reusable cycle.
New long-neck bottles; new bottling and logistic installations were all being planned.
2006. Schweppes & Orangina
The Krombacher Group did not remain complacent, always on the look- out for new ideas and new opportunities. In 2006, the brewery undertook the trademark rights of the alcohol-free iconic brands Schweppes and Orangina for Germany and Austria.
The well-known bitter soft drinks and the fruity lemonades from France broadened the Krombacher Group’s range.
2007. Launching Krombacher Wheat
The naturally cloudy Krombacher Wheat Beer was launched onto the market in 2007.
The full-bodied wheat beer with the unmistakable Krombacher character won the favour of consumers in rapid time.
2008. Launching Radler Alcohol-Free and Krombacher Wheat Alcohol-Free
Krombacher Pils Alcohol-Free started in 1999, and 2008 saw the opportunity to launch Krombacher Radler/Shandy Alcohol-Free and Krombacher Wheat Alcohol-Free thereby completing the range of alcohol-free variants.
Alongside the flagship Krombacher Pils, the Number 1 best-selling and most popular Pils brand in Germany, a highly successful brand family has been built up in the last 10 years.
2009. Partner of the DFL
Not only is the Krombacher brand family innovation-savvy. Aside from the growing product portfolio the Krombacher Brewery continues its successful awareness and marketing strategy by linking with high profile popular sport.
Since 2009, the company has been involved with football on a national level, linking the most popular beer in the country with the country’s most popular sport. Becoming the official partner of the German Football League, The Krombacher Brewery and the DFL have agreed a long term partnership. Prost to that!
2012. Krombacher´s Fassbrause
„Fassbrause“ is the new way of natural and non-alcoholic refreshment. Produced with all natural ingredients from an traditional malt based recipe, „Fassbrause“ is the innovation of the year.
Available in the 4 flavours lemon, elderberry, apple and rhubarb, „Krombacher´s Fassbrause“ is the ideal healthy alternative to soft drinks – for little ones and grown-ups.
2013. Visitors Centre
Building onto the existing visitor’s centre which was originally opened in 1997 and welcomes over 74,000 visitors annually, the centre now boasts a newly designed panoramic cinema with new footage and breathtaking images demonstrating how Krombacher is brewed using the unique spring water, known as Felsquellwasser®, which originates at the base of the Rothaar mountains.
Other new elements to the Krombacher visitors centre includes the room of senses which allows visitors to touch, smell, hear and feel the quality raw ingredients that go into making Krombacher. Several other new exhibition areas have been introduced throughout the tour including the history of the brewery, the people who work there, the range of products brewed and the commitment of Krombacher to the environment.
2014. Krombacher Hell
More than 100 years ago Lager beer has been brewed in Krombach allready. With Krombacher Hell this tradition is reinforced by our experienced brewmasters. Our new golden Krombacher Hell is ideal for those who prefer a full-bodied beer. It´s the subtle touch of hops, that ensures Krombacher Hell is less bitter and has a plesant maltiness.
This beer uses special malt varieties and finest seal hops. Continuing with our brewery tradition Krombacher Hell is brewed with our world famous Felsquellwasser® (mountain spring water). A world class full-bodied, tasty beer!