Tradition since 1731
“My family are firm believers in one of life’s most precious commodities: Beer! It is at the heart of our family. Beer forms part of our family DNA, as it were”, comments Pia Kollmar, shareholder and Managing Director of our OeTTINGER Brewery GmbH, with a wide smile. The Kollmars and their forefathers, the Höhenbergers, have been brewing beer for almost 300 years. Now, the tenth generation in the shape of Pia Kollmar’s two daughters are nearly ready to carry on this family tradition.
OeTTINGER Brewery’s story begins in 1731 in what is today the Braugasthof Forstquell Brewery in Fürnheim, in the shadow of the Hesselberg mountain, in Middle Franconia in Bavaria. An ancestral portrait gallery, a large photo collection and a host of quaint brewing artifacts reveal the rich family history. And centuries later, the Kollmars maintain a strictly traditional brewing process here – using the copper brewing vat situated right at the heart of the rustic tavern.
An historic photo: One of the first images still in existence of “The Friedrich Höhenberger Brewery” taken around 1920.
Georg Friedrich Höhenberger marries Margaretha Karolina in 1912. She is the woman in black with the bouquet in the front row. Georg is standing to her right.
In contrast to many other breweries, which own extensive land and run their own pubs or restaurants, enabling them to secure and grow their beer sales, the Fürnheim brewing family simply lack the financial means for growth until the middle of the 20th century.
However, in 1956, just a few kilometers away in Oettingen, Otto Kollmar successfully raises the funds required to purchase the former “Fürstliche Genossenschaftsbrauerei”. With eight employees to start with, the Kollmars begin large-scale brewing operations for the first time, producing around 5,000 hectoliters (50,000 crates) of the finest OeTTINGER beer every year.
Hedwig and Otto Kollmar in Fürnheim. Hedwig, a Höhenberger by birth, introduced her husband to the craft of brewing after they married.
Günther Kollmar, second son of Hedwig and Otto, who inherited the company, is pictured here in front of the Kollmar’s first OeTTINGER barrels in 1956.
During the 1970s, more and more supermarkets spring up on the outskirts of towns and villages across Germany. By this time, Otto has already passed OeTTINGER’s destiny into the hands of his son Günther. But Günther Kollmar is not just a brewer with heart and soul; he is above all a non-conformist visionary. With the gastronomy sector already well established as a sales channel for all other breweries, Günther quickly spots that the new supermarket infrastructure may well present an opportunity – selling beer for private consumption at home! However, in order for this to be made a reality, the beer must not only taste amazing, it also has to be cheaper than in the gastronomy sector.
Günther Kollmar sets about optimizing all business processes. Thanks to the latest brewing and bottling plants, economies of scale when purchasing, and consistently forgoing advertising and sponsoring across the board, OeTTINGER Brewery is able to produce beer in a far more cost-effective way than its competitors. In order to cut out the cost of middle men, Günther Kollmar chooses to distribute the drinks directly, establishing the company’s own fleet of trucks.
The OeTTINGER concept is born.
Günther Kollmar in his element: Surrounded by OeTTINGER beers in a busy bottling plant.
Günther Kollmar (left) with his daughter Pia and “Günthers Ottl” – the embodiment of “Oettinger Original” and central motif of our beer labels for many years.
Our OeTTINGER Brewery grows. In 1989, a second brewery, plans for which focus on maximum efficiency and sustainability, is put into operation in Oettingen. In fact, a 3.2-kilometer-long subterranean beer pipeline still connects the two locations to this day.
Until this point, our sales region had been restricted to the south, but German reunification provides an opportunity for greater geographical expansion: In 1991, the Kollmars purchase the Gotha Brewery in Thuringia.
Our first location on the other side of the white-and-blue Bavarian borders: With the Gotha Brewery, we have been regionally and firmly anchored in East Germany since the early 1990s.
OeTTINGER Brewery experiences its biggest surge in growth with the introduction of can deposits: As a cost-effective alternative, many consumers switch from purchasing beer in cans to buying beer in OeTTINGER’s reusable bottles. The Kollmars realize that they need another production site in order to meet this high demand, eventually opting for the Mönchengladbach Brewery in North Rhine-Westphalia. The can filling lines acquired in NRW allow OeTTINGER to venture a step abroad: In order to make use of the facilities, OeTTINGER immediately starts to fill cans for export.
OeTTINGER is transformed into the market leader, remaining Germany’s largest and most successful beer brand for a period of time.
We make a virtue out of necessity: The introduction of can deposits in Germany is the starting pistol for our export business.
For years a huge presence in North Rhine-Westphalia: OeTTINGER Brewery Mönchengladbach.
Say goodbye to the wonder years. Beer consumption in Germany steadily falls. Demand for particularly cheap drinks is increasingly on the rise. Cost-effective brands experience a boom. OeTTINGER Brewery, which has been streamlined for efficiency purposes, seizes the opportunity to use its plants to full capacity and partners up with numerous retail chains in the area of production. OeTTINGER expands again, and as a result is in a position to acquire the Brunswick Brewery in Lower Saxony.
With the strategic purchase of our Braunschweig Brewery, we are now truly active regionally across Germany.
The visionary Günther Kollmar passes away in 2013. However, our OeTTINGER Brewery remains a family-run business. Nevertheless, over the centuries, we have grown from being solely beer brewers to flexible and multifaceted drinks manufacturers. Today, OeTTINGER is one of Germany’s largest beer brands measured by production and ranks as one of the 30 most influential beer brands worldwide. Under our main OeTTINGER brand, we brew and mix more than 40 different drinks. From 2013 onwards, our entire beer range displays the “GMO-free” label. In particular, our Pils, Export and Weißbier varieties, which are our biggest-selling beers in Germany, are distributed for sale in over 100 countries. Since 1980 alone, we have won more than 250 national and international awards for our consistently high standard of service and longstanding product quality.
Each year, OeTTINGER fills approximately two billion bottles and cans with around eight million hectoliters of beer, beer-mix drinks and soft drinks. All of our raw materials are sourced from the immediate areas around our four brewing sites. Around 1,000 proud and hard-working OeTTINGER employees work in Oettingen, Gotha, Mönchengladbach and Brunswick as well as at our distribution center in Walldorf, from which we deliver the products to our customers regionally across Germany using our own fleet of motortrucks.
Top quality, a wide range of products and a conscious decision to forgo advertising, partnerships with the food and beverage industry and cost drivers, as well as low prices and global availability, are all aspects that continue to be firmly anchored in our company philosophy.
And hopefully, this passion for beer will be inherited by many more generations to come as an integral part of the Kollmar family DNA!
More than just beer. Original OeTTINGER newcomers in 2020: Radler naturtrüb alkoholfrei, Fassbrause Himbeer-Minze, OeTea Pfirsich and Glorietta Apfel-Kirsch.
Too fast for the naked eye: Our cutting-edge equipment works extremely efficiently – and at an astonishingly rapid pace.
Take a look at our hallowed halls: The storage facility at our Mönchengladbach site.
Freshly bottled, loaded and dispatched every day: Our fleet of motortrucks transports our drinks straight to partner supermarkets all across Germany.