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Tuesday, July 19th 2016

Craft Beer's First 8 oz. Cans!
Q & A with Flat 12's Sean Manahan

PINKO! is a BIG beer in a SMALL can

There aren't many frontiers left when it comes to craft beer in cans. Over the past few years alone we've seen the introduction of the 32 oz. Crowler, cans with removeable lids, glow-in-the-dark designs, and even cans with "tactical" grips. On Saturday, July 23rd, Flat 12 Bierwerks in Indianapolis will become the first American craft brewer to release a beer in an 8 oz. can. We were pretty excited about another first in the industry so we reached out to Flat 12 to get the story behind the cans. Cheers to Sean Manahan, Flat 12's Brewmaster and Director of Brewing Operations, for answering our questions!

the first PINKO! cans coming off the line

CC) How did the idea behind an 8oz can release come about?

SM) I don't drink soda often, but sometimes I get a craving for just a splash. So, one time I was shopping and saw some 8oz cans of cola and thought it was the perfect amount to quench my thirst. Right then, I turned to my wife and said, 'I've got an idea!' That was summer of 2015. I began running the idea around with my staff and everybody seemed on board. Often times big RIS and similar beers are released in 22oz bombers but with most 10% or higher you need to host a small party to get through the whole bottle. Not that we are antisocial, but sometimes you want to enjoy a beer by yourself and the 8oz can fit perfectly.

CC) What were some of the challenges related to this release? 

SM) In conversations with my best friend, Alan Coon of Wild Goose Canning, I asked him if the canning lines he designed and sold with Goose had the ability to do so. He said as long as the diameter of the can fit they could. So I brought the idea to the Scott Richards and Andrew McLean at Michigan/Indiana Mobile Canning and they said of their 2 canning lines, one of them was set up to fill 8oz but they had never tried it. They were immediately on board and the scheduling started. They are bringing their Michigan based line down to Indianapolis to run the cans as it is the one with the ability to drop the filling heads and seamer down enough to fill the 8oz cans.

The biggest issue with this canning run was the availability of the 8oz cans. Our can and wrap supplier, Valerie Anderson of Mossberg and Company, said that 8oz cans were only made a few times a year and in limited volumes. We weren't sure if the cans would be available in time but luck has been on our side through this whole process, and the cans were delivered to Mossberg at the 11th hour to keep our schedule on track.

CC) Are these being packaged in 4-packs?

SM) We are packing these in 6pks. We wanted the smaller can, but didn't want to short consumers on the overall volume. We used to package Pinko! in 4pk 12oz bottles for 48 total ounces and by doing 6pks of 8oz cans we can match the volume our customers have become accustomed to.

Photo: Mossberg and Co.

CC) What’s the background on the Pinko name and the can design? Who is responsible for the actual can design?

SM) The name Pinko! comes from Cold War era term for Americans who were supporters or sympathetic for Communism. They themselves weren't 'Red' but rather 'Pink' so the term Pinko was coined. Much like many other RIS brands such as North Coast's Old Rasputin and Avery's Czar, we decided to use this term as the name for our Russian Stout because of the tie to Russia.

"The name Pinko! comes from a Cold War era term for Americans who were supporters or sympathetic for Communism."

The first label art for the Pinko! was designed and hand drawn in 2014 by our then graphics intern Seth Baker for the first few runs of the beer in bottles. This initial design of the bear wearing the ushanka has become the iconic art for Pinko! and has been used on all of our Pinko! packaging including the 12oz bottles, our limited run barrel-aged versions, and now the 8oz can. This summer, the label was revamped and reconfigured for the 8oz cans by our most recent graphics intern Sara Fucci.

CC) Tell us a bit about the beer itself...

SM) Pinko! our RIS is big, bold, and black as night. The brew is robust with rich chocolate and roasted coffee character truly fit for Russian winters. While delicious on its own, Pinko! was developed to age in barrels. Every year at our Chirstmas in July event, we release 3-4 different barrel aged verities in addition to our standard draught and packaged versions.

Photo: Mossberg and Co.

CC) Any plans for future releases in this can format?

SM) I would love to apply this package to more of our high gravity or more rare brands. I'm glad to have been able to make this year's Pinko! work in the small cans and hopefully we can make this a regular thing for its release year after year. As for future releases, we are already looking forward on the production schedule in hopes of finding the next candidate for these stubby cans. We've got some new plans also developing with this new style of packaging. Cannot wait to see where this leads us!

To find out more about PINKO! cans GO HERE

About Flat12 Bierwerks

Flat12 Bierwerks is a production craft brewery formed in 2010, located in the fast-growing Holy Cross neighborhood— just east of downtown Indianapolis. As a company, we embrace a laid-back, “work hard, play hard” mentality, fostering the creativity of each individual, and that’s no better exemplified than in our brewery. We like to think we strike a good balance between having consistent core and seasonal beers, while continually adding a variety of innovative specialty beers to the lineup. We don’t have a lot of allegiance to traditional styles, we brew what we like— and we like to make “ish-styles.”

Brewmaster, Sean Manahan, and his team brew for the pursuit of creative expression in a pint. There’s a lot of innovation, youth and passion in our brewery. We aren’t just brewing to quench the thirst, we brew to offer an experience. With their combined experience, thirst for innovation, and a passion for brewing, our liquid artists aim to help define the next generation of craft beer. As a team we continue the legacy of our namesake— a classic game-changing racing engine— and move towards a more revved up beer.

Posted by Russ