How Bayern Brewing Cleans Up on its Bottles

Growth has been a strange term for Montana’s Bayern Brewing.

At one point the brewery wasn’t allowed to grow. So for years it was “stuck” only making less than 10,000 barrels because state law prohibited a brewery from having an on-site taproom if it was over the mark. The brewery also distributed its product.

Now, with the cap lifted to 60,000 barrels, growth is a possibility said Masterbrewer Thorsten Geuer.

“For the longest time, the challenge really was to be a growing brand while staying under 10,000 barrels,” he said. “I called it: One fish and one loaf of bread. And you had to make sure that nobody felt hungry.”

Now that the state has changed the law, there is a lot of potential but the market right now is pretty tight and crowded, he added.

Primarily known as a bottle packaged brewery, Bayern has added cans and Geuer said the brewery has seen some traction.

“You gain here and you lose there.”

Yet bottles are still king and Bayern has put its German heritage to good use by being more sustainable with an entire line of reused bottles.

“To see a truck load of bottles coming in and knowing they are going to be eventually in a landfill … it always was in our heads that we needed to change that,” he said, noting that he and owner Jürgen Knöller both were born and raised in Germany. “We were never afraid of the whole technology and what it would take. We are used to it in Germany. For us it wasn’t a foreign concept of washing glass.

“Now we are really happy that we did it. I think that’s the next thing that will happen, getting away from one-use containers.”

G​euer did point out that for the first 25 years of Bayern’s existence, it wasn’t financially sound to be able to have such equipment as a bottle washer at first at the size they were. But five years ago the duo felt it’s time to go into that area, purchasing a 40-foot custom-made bottle washer.

Since, Geuer said return rates keep increasing with the number right now being about 1 in 5 bottles coming back to the brewery.

The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative has teamed with Bayern in the venture as well and currently it sends its reusable bottles and will run ​its bottles washer for Oregon until ​it have ​has its own operation going.

​”​It’s a good teamwork​,” he said. ​

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