The brewery from Worb BE celebrates its anniversary. And takes risks with investments. Can this pay off?
The Egger brewery in Worb BE is sandwiched between the beer multinationals Carlsberg (Feldschlösschen), Heineken (Eichhof) and the small craft breweries.
The brewery at the gateway to the Emmental has seen turbulent years. Just a few years ago, Egger Bier did not have enough money to renew the outdated brewery facilities.
Egger carts beer to Eastern Switzerland and back
Since then, the Locher brewery in Appenzell has been bottling Egger beer. Tankers cart the freshly brewed beer to eastern Switzerland. And then back to Worb in the form of beer bottles and cans.
160 years after it was founded by Gottfried Egger, the Egger brewery continues to fight for its independence and against being sold to a large brewery. “We see ourselves in the golden mean of the market,” says David Santschi, master brewer and co-managing director, confidently.
From 2024, the barley juice is to be brewed and bottled in Worb again, in a new brewery at Worb SBB train station. The old brewery in the town center is converted.
How independent is Egger beer?
The money for the expansion comes from new shareholders who wish to remain anonymous. According to the “Berner Zeitung” also from the Locher brewery, which produces Appenzell beer, for example. Santschi does not want to comment on the investors.
How independent is the Egger brewery anyway? «We have not been bought out and do not only exist as a brand like others. We continue to make decisions here in Worb,” says Santschi. Nevertheless, one is dependent on external help.
Müller Bräu in Baden AG, like Egger, a family business with a long tradition, is taking a different approach. Those responsible there decided to close the large brewery on the Müller-Bräu site near the train station and to build a large development there with apartments and businesses.
Müller-Bräu in Baden focuses on real estate
In the future, the Müller beer will be brewed by the Schaffhausen “Falken” brewery, in Baden there will only be a microbrewery for a restaurant. “In some places you can now earn more with real estate than with beer in the highly competitive beer market,” explains Reto Widmer, SRF editor and beer sommelier, who keeps a close eye on the Swiss beer market.
The Swiss beer market
There are almost 1,300 breweries in Switzerland.
The largest Swiss brewery is the zur Carlsberg Group belonging Feldschlösschen with two breweries in Rheinfelden and Sion and a market share of around 40 percent.
Coming in second Heineken Switzerland with the two breweries Eichhof, Haldengut and Calanda and around 20 percent market share. It is now the third largest brewery in Switzerland Perforator (Appenzell beer).
Egger, on the other hand, takes a different approach and invests millions in the new brewing equipment. This is despite the fact that the Worber brewery produces much less beer than large breweries, which means higher costs. “Egger beer is neither fish nor bird, neither large nor small brewery,” Widmer continues.
Investing in the new brewery is of course a certain risk. It is difficult to estimate who is actually pulling the strings among the new investors. “If the Locher brewery were involved, it would be conceivable that Appenzeller beer would also be brewed in Worb. Then the system could pay off.”
Either way, the Egger brewery is celebrating its anniversary this year. What to toast to: May the Egger beer brewed in Worb continue to flow from the taps in the region for many years to come.