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“It was time to open a new chapter”

Constantia Flexibles supplies the new labels for the craft beers of the newly founded “Freie Brau Union Bremen”. We spoke with Prof. Dr. Markus Zeller, one of the partners in the brewery.


Constantia Flexibles: Since 2015, you have been brewing a variety of different beer types on the premises of the former “Union Brauerei Bremen” under the new name “Freie Brau Union Bremen”. Can you tell us the story of how this came about?

Markus Zeller: After almost 50 years during which no beer was brewed in the building of the “old” Union Brauerei, we have been continuing the history of the Union Brauerei once again since the end of 2015: On September 28, 2015, the new 20 hl brewing house was built right where the old brewing house used to stand. The first Brewing started there again on November 18. It was time to open a new chapter – Bremen was ripe for a 100% regional brewery.

With our new brewery name, we link ourselves to the tradition of the Union Brauerei, in whose beautiful historic building we have situated ourselves, while at the same time we wanted to proclaim our connection with the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen as the “Freie Brauerei”. Free - in the sense of independent - is furthermore a hallmark of an owner-managed craft beer brewery.

Constantia Flexibles: You use the term craft brewery, what is the distinction from a typical brewery?

Markus Zeller: Put simply, craft beer is brewed in small quantities and independently of large corporations.

The trend toward craft beer has developed in North America since the 1970s. In Germany, such a trend has also taken hold in recent years, although small breweries are traditionally more widespread here than in most other parts of the world.

But looking beyond “small and independent”, brewing craft beer means much more. Namely love and passion – for the idea, the brewing process and for one’s own creations. Craft beer has its own unique aromas, historical beer types are sometimes reinterpreted and recreated with special ingredients and recipes. We already combine over 10 different types each of hops and malts.

Constantia Flexibles: Craft beer generally distinguishes itself even just on the basis of its exceptional, appealing and creative design. What was the process from the first idea to the final design for the bottles?

Markus Zeller: That was a truly involved process, and we took our time for it. The goal was to take up the tradition and give it a modern interpretation. The Bremen-based agency we hired, Closer, initially pursued the task of establishing a uniform design framework for our brand to ensure recognition. This process eventually gave rise to 2 brands: the Freie Brau Union Bremen as company brand and BREMER as product brand. The more strongly we documented our origins in Bremen, the better we liked the results. It was therefore important to us for the design language to clearly communicate the “Bremer” brand.

We started off with six different types of craft beer: Keller Pils, Rotbier, Weißbier, Pale Ale, Porter and Hanseat 2.0. These are filled into three different bottle sizes and shapes, which was already quite a challenge. The logo for all types was placed uniformly and succinctly on the various label formats. The differentiation of the bottles takes place on a simple visual information level.

The back labels contain a clear list of the most important product properties and further support the visual product communication in the lower part. After just four weeks, we added a seventh type of beer: BREMER Eiswett Bier. For future types, which will become even sharper in their taste profile, the rectangular base shape of the label offers us many additional design options, in which the traditional elements may shift somewhat into the background.

Constantia Flexibles: Constantia Flexibles was commissioned to print the craft beer labels – what was important to you about this cooperation?

Markus Zeller: It was important to us that we had found a partner in Constantia who recognized the potential of our project from the start. We are keenly aware that in the initial months we asked for an intense level of support that could not be initially justified by the sales volume we represented. And naturally, a brewery that is starting out from the very beginning will desire changes or reprints at short notice. Since were practically overrun - in a positive sense - during the first weeks, it is essential for us to have a partner with understanding and a solution-oriented approach. Plus: The quality of the labels was top-notch from the start. I am convinced that both sides can profit from this project. I can wholeheartedly recommend Constantia. 

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