Friday, July 11, 2014

Cerveza

In Seville when you ask for a cerveza with your tapas you are most likely to get a glass of Cruzcampo, which is brewed here and is Spain's biggest-selling brand. It is now owned by Heineken. In fact, Heineken's Seville brewery is its largest in Europe, and produces both Cruzcampo (80% of its output) and Heineken. We toured the facility on our sustainability trip. Spain had just been eliminated from the World Cup after being shut out by Chile, and some noted the irony that the mighty Dutch, who had trounced Spain 5-1 in an earlier match, also owned Spain's most popular brand of beer. Still, our Spanish guide took some pains to insist that Cruzcampo is not just Heineken with a different label, pointing out the different orientation of the giant cylindrical fermentation tanks (vertical for C, horizontal for H), noting that the yeast is a different breed, etc. I can vouch for the fact that Cruzcampo is its own beer. Not Lagunitas IPA by any stretch, but better than Heineken to my palate.

The enormous brewery, only a few years old, is a marvel of modern industrial technology. Beer brewing is a bulk process and is subject to significant economies of scale, at least for mass-market rather than craft-style production. So I was already expecting big vats and a lot of automation. The reality exceeded my expectations on both counts. Basically, most of the operation is controlled by a handful of workers. The students picked up on this, noting that such facilities are unlikely to contribute much to "sustainable employment" in this regional economy that is suffering 35% unemployment. But it's been a long time since breweries were a significant source of jobs, except maybe upstream for barley farmers, and downstream for bartenders and bouncers...

Here is the outside, done up in the official Cruzcampo and Heineken color schemes...



















Mixing, cooking, and filtration are done in these enormous vats...

















Do you like pipes? I do...
























Here's where the bugs get to work and do the fermentation...
























The bottling plant extends as far as the eye can see and has only three workers...

















Still more impressive, the shipping warehouse, which is the size of three soccer fields and employs various robotic forklifts and other vehicles but only two human workers... what happens when these obedient fellows get sick of schlepping cases and kegs and decide to team up with their drone friends in the military?...

video

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