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In St. Johann there was an extensive celebration, with (Wed. left and Wed. right) Hubert Aiwanger and Dr. Markus Söder
25 November 2022

Grand opening of new hop extraction plant in St. Johann

Hop processing St. Johann GmbH | BarthHaas and HVG Hopfenverwertungsgenossenschaft mark the opening of the new extraction plant in St. Johann, Germany with a formal ceremony. Along with the First Minister of Bavaria, Dr. Markus Söder, invitees include the Deputy First Minister and Bavarian Secretary of Commerce, Hubert Aiwanger, and numerous guests from the worlds of politics and business, as well as the employees at the plant.

The newly built CO2 extraction plant at the St. Johann hop finishing plant, the world's largest hop processing facility, had already been commissioned in September 2020. Due to the pandemic, however, the opening ceremony for the new plant had to be postponed for the time being. The postponed ceremony was not only to celebrate the commissioning of the plant, in which around 65 million euros had been invested in planning, construction and equipment. Above all, it was to thank the 190 or so employees of the St. Johann plant, who form the core and heart of the St. Johann hop refinery. Some of them, who played a major role in the planning and construction, were honored by Managing Director Dr. Johann Pichlmaier and Stephan, Alexander and Regine Barth.

The St. Johann facility processes around 33,000 mt of cone hops (60 varieties from 16 growing regions), representing approx. 26% of global crop volume, into pellets and concentrated hop extract. The facility supplies breweries in 100 different countries throughout the world. Alongside the new extraction plant, warehouse capacity for up to 11,000 mt of cone hops and 23,500 mt of finished products, cold-storage halls, and in particular a modern laboratory and research brewery can all be found on Hopfenveredlung St. Johann’s 11-hectare site.

High-performance extraction plant

Commissioned in the fall of 2020, Hopfenveredlung St. Johann’s high-performance CO2 extraction plant processes around 33% of the facility’s capacity. The advantages of a purely physical CO2 extraction process are clear: The hop extract gained through this type of extraction process is a purely natural product devoid of chemical additives. Along with hop pellets, this is the main form in which hops are used in breweries. With a concentration factor of up to 3, hop extract requires around 25% less storage space, and in addition to having a longer shelf-life, it is also easier to dose.

The gentle, environment-friendly CO2 extraction process has been used successfully at the St. Johann facility since as long ago the mid-80s, when it replaced the original production process that used alcohol and hot water. During the extraction process, the natural extraction agent CO2 is compressed to 500 bar and passes into a supercritical state (a hybrid form of liquid and gas) in which its dissolving properties are at their best. After being fed into the extraction vessels, the CO2 extracts the compounds relevant to brewing (bitter and aroma compounds) from the pelleted hops in an oxygen-free, antibacterial atmosphere. The spent hops that remain after extraction are then further processed into animal feed. The CO2 is then liquified by a condenser, which recycles the recovered solvent for renewed extraction.

Sustainability is of key importance in the new extraction plant. The biogenic carbon dioxide used in the process only releases as much CO2 as is previously extracted from the atmosphere through photosynthesis in plants grown for the production of bioethanol. Heat and electricity for the extraction process are supplied energy-efficiently by the facility’s own CHP unit. Any additional power requirements are met entirely using green electricity from Germany. The ground is also being prepared for innovative, sustainable company development with further plans regarding location and energy concepts.