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Human beings have been making beer for at least 5,000 years. We ourselves have been brewing continuously here in Faversham for over 300. Brewing is an ancient art yet many of the processes that we employ today are very much products of the 21st century.
Traditionally, Wort is heated in the Copper using an external heating system called a Calandria. At Shepherd Neame we've pioneered a new internal heating method called PDX. This injects steam inside the copper, heating the Wort much more efficiently. Using this system has reduced our energy consumption in the ale copper by 47% and in the lager copper by 57%. And because the PDX does not cause charring or caremelisation in the copper our product is fresher and more consistent.
By 2009 we were exporting ales and lager to some 14 countries and demand was far outstripping our ability to bottle the brewery's output. We turned to Italy for the solution, importing a brand new, state of the art, bottling line. As a result we are now able to produce over 64 million bottles of beer a year here in Faversham. Our cask and keg lines are equally high tech, with heavy kegs handled by robots.
Our SAP computer system has radically improved the efficiency of our throughput, which means our beer spends less time hanging around in our premises and gets to the customer faster, hence fresher.
We used to hold our kegs and bottles in a warehouse on the brewery, but we now have a purpose built distribution centre on the outskirts of Faversham. This warehouse is climate controlled to ensure that the beer is stored at the correct temperature until it is loaded. The effect of this more streamlined system is a more consistent product for our customers. Indeed beer returns have been halved thanks to our fresh beer policy.