Thuringia: Beer frustration in the brewery – 100,000 empty bottles are missing


Kaltennordheim (Thuringia) – The beers of the Rhön brewery in Dittmar have sonorous names such as “Hopfensinfonie” or “Simco Serenade”. But instead of running down the Germans’ dry throats, well chilled, the craft beers slosh away in the kettle. Because the brewery lacks empty bottles.

The traditional company from Kaltennordheim (Schmalkalden-Meiningen) fills 20,000 hectoliters per year. “We know that more beer is drunk in summer, but the problem has not yet existed to this extent. The empties just don’t come back, ”explains Julian Reukauf (35), managing director at Rhön-Bier in the seventh generation.

His only explanation: “People are hoarding the boxes at home.” Because during the corona pandemic hardly any beer kegs were sold, but all the more bottles.

A whopping 125 pallets of 40 cases each of the Rhön beer bottles are missing. That makes: 5000 crates – or 100,000 bottles!

The bitter consequence: “We had to postpone the bottling of special varieties by five weeks, cut back the Bock and Doppel-Bock production so that at least the main types like our popular Pils remained available in sufficient quantities,” said the master brewer.

The traditional company from Kaltennordheim fills 20,000 hectoliters of beer a year

Photo: Jacob Schröter

And just buy new boxes?

“Unfortunately, it’s not an option,” explains Reukauf. Because the waiting time is up to six months. In addition, the price per returnable bottle has become significantly more expensive. “That is now 16 cents,” says the master brewer, “with the current bottle deposit, you make 8 cents lousy for every beer sold.”

That’s why the master brewer asks: “Bring our empty boxes back.” After all, you could just take a full one back with you …

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