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Keggy: innovation on tap.

Micro Matic aims to revolutionize home beer consumption with a unique new package.

The inspiration that launched the Keggy dispensing system came to Andre Thix at an appropriate moment--while waiting for a beer. Thix was at a social gathering hosted by a brewery, and brewery draft specialists were on hand to tap a few kegs. The operation wasn't going smoothly, and Thix watched as the experts struggled to bring foaming beer kegs under control. "It occurred to me then," he says. "If experienced brewery personnel were having such trouble, what must it be like for ordinary consumers? There had to be a better way."

Thix' idea has borne fruit in the form of Keggy, a beer-dispensing system designed to make draft beer more portable and practical. According to Thix, now the group sales manager for Micro Matic, the new package will have an important impact on the international market. "Although it was originally conceived for the private market," he says, "we are now looking at a much broader customer base."

Logical conclusion

Basically, Keggy takes keg design to its logical conclusion. It is a 12-liter mini-keg featuring a stainless steel liner and a casing made of self-skinning PUR. The unit features molded handles for portability, and space for a brewery logo on each side of the rubberized casing.

The feature that makes Keggy unique is an integrated C|O.sub.2~ system in the keg itself. The system is complete with pre-set pressure regulator and an internal C|O.sub.2~ cartridge. To tap a Keggy, the consumer attaches the tap to valve fittings on top of the unit. When a locking lever is engaged, the internal C|O.sub.2~ supply is activated, and the Keggy is ready to go.

Once beer is packaged in Keggy, Thix reports that it will have a shelf life equivalent to bottled beer. "It can go for months," he says. "You can dispense beer from it one day, put it aside, and start again in two weeks."

Myriad benefits

According to Thix, the simplicity, reliability and recyclability of the Keggy put it in its own league. "All existing systems for party beer dispensing have too many things that can go wrong," Thix notes. "Most of these units do not dispense beer as it was brewed, and some are ecologically unsound."

Thix points to the expense of C|O.sub.2~ regulators and tanks for keg dispensing systems, and observes, "When a consumer rents a keg dispensing system for a weekend, they are on their own, and no one will be around to help them.

"In contrast," Thix relates, "Keggy is a professional unit that is racked at the brewery just like a keg. There is nothing for the customer to fool with, and it pours a perfect glass of beer every time."

Thix takes note of the "beer ball," but dismisses it as "an ecological nightmare." Thix says that Keggy provides distinct environmental benefits over disposable packages. "A Keggy can be refilled countless times," Thix says. "In fact, we estimate the unit will have a life-span of 15 years, which is about the same as a traditional keg. There is really nothing you can do to damage it, short of sheer abuse."

Convenience and independence

Thix believes that consumers will also embrace the convenience and independence that Keggy will offer. "Once a consumer buys a tap, they are off and running. And," he adds, "from a cost point-of-view, beer from Keggy is no more expensive than bottled or draught beer. All dispensing gear is right there, so the consumer is buying a full system. There are no hidden costs."

Thix also envisions Keggy's use on-premise. "Customers can get a chance to play bartender," he says, "as they dispense their own beer at the table."

According to Thix, the package will build product loyalty. "The key to any reusable package is the number of rotations you can get out of it," he says. "If you can find a system that the customer will bring in every two weeks you've got it made. The Keggy system is ideally suited for that kind of use."

Worldly package

Micro Matic possesses all world patents for the Keggy system, and will do all sales and marketing for the package. The company has two manufacturing partners--Schaefer-Werke of Germany and Ceodux of Luxembourg.

A specialized packaging line has been developed for Keggy, and cleaning and filling of Keggy's beer and C|O.sub.2~ is accomplished by single-head or multiple-head process machines. According to Micro Matic, either machine can be integrated into existing keg process equipment.

The single-head machine can process up to 30 Keggys an hour, while the multiple-head process machines will handle 60 Keggys in the same period.

Keggy was introduced first in Europe, and one large Dutch brewery already has the package in the marketplace. "The brewer started to distribute the Keggy package on a regional basis," Thix says, "and they gradually built a good image for Keggy. Now they are doing significant volume with it."

Micro Matic introduced Keggy to the American marketplace at the recent international Brewing and Allied Industries Exhibition in St. Louis. Peter Muzzenigro, president of Micro Matic, U.S.A., reported that the company plans to have a U.S. test market program running within the year.

Thix and Micro Matic are optimistic about Keggy's potential. "There is a huge market worldwide for a product like this," Thix states, "and so far our successes have been beyond our expectations."
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Title Annotation:Micro Matic Inc.'s new dispensing system
Author:Reid, Peter
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Jan 25, 1993
Words:917
Previous Article:Key to the future.
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