Thursday, February 21 2013
Craft Canning Down Under
(Q & A with Neal Cameron, Head Brewer at The Australian Brewery)
Australia is an amazing country. If you've been there you probably had a tough time leaving. I know I did. When it comes to craft beer Australia has some excellent breweries producing some world class beers and until just recently the idea of canning any of that beer was just that, an idea. The Australian Brewery in Sydney has since made it a reality and become the first in the country to begin canning. Now, the first cans of Australian craft beer are on shelves and in pubs. We caught up with The Australian Brewery's Head Brewer, Neal Cameron, to find out more and to see how the cans are being received.
(CC) Can you tell us a little bit about The Australian Brewery?
(NC) The Australian Brewery was set up in late 2010 with a state of the art
2000L DME brewery. The brewery is part of a large hotel in NW Sydney however we are now supplying draught beer and cider to 30 outlets in Sydney and a number of outlets in Melboure & Brisbane. Have won a swag of medals and trophies over the past two years, we are known as an extremely highquality producer; we also do a small amount of contract brewing for some of Sydney’s other craft brewers. And with our canning line up and running we have just sent our first stock to Dan Murphy’s which is Australia’s most craft liquor chain with 183 stores nationwide.
(CC) How would you describe the boutique/craft beer industry in Australia?
(NC) Its always easy to say that the scene is evolving at an every more rapid rate, but in my 10 years of brewing I have never seen so many new and interesting beers coming on the market – it seems the rate of change is ever accelerating. Melbourne has always embraced craft beer better than it’s rival Sydney. Over the past year or so, so many small and seriously committed beer venues have opened which gives brewery’s like us a chance to hit the right punters ever more easily.
(CC) Why did The Australian Brewery choose to go with cans?
(NC) I’m getting to the point with this question to put it back to other breweries and ask why on earth would you go with a bottling line and bottles. The equipment is much cheaper, has a much smaller footprint in the brewery yet packages quicker, with fewer people and most importantly, the quality of beer in the can is much (MUCH) better than bottles. The level of oxygen put into the beer is an order of magnitude less with the canning line compared to all but the very best (read expensive) bottling lines plus you get 100% UV protection. On top of that, you have only 14g of highly recyclable aluminium to buy and transport around compared to 220g of dangerous and hard to recycle glass. Cans are a much efficient use of space too; we can get 40% more onto a pallet due to the space and weight saving. So I say again, why on earth would you put beer into bottles??
(CC) Are you the first small Australian brewery to can their beer?
(NC) We are. One of our largest brewers has canned one of their craft offerings and the ever wonderful Coopers brewery regular cans it’s products however they are certainly not a small brewery.
(CC) Which of your beers are you canning?
(NC) We are canning our Pilsner, Pale Ale & Steam Ale plus our Fresh Press Cider. We also do small run seasonals with AB The Smoked IPA coming out next week. The cans are 355ml and come in packs of 4 and cases of 16.
(CC) What sort of canning line are you employing at the brewery?
(NC) We’re using a Canadian canning line from Cask Systems. We had the thing running like a sewing machine within a couple of runs and couldn’t be happier with it. We can plow through 4000L of beer in a shift with 2.5 people running the line.
(CC) Do you feel that eventually more Australian craft breweries will make a move to cans?
(NC) By the number of visitors we have had thus far and the number of enquiries to Cask it’s simply a matter of time, especially when they look at the economic and quality gains possible.
(CC) What has been the initial response to cans from your customers?
(NC) Quite incredible, we took it to a dreadfully cool bar last week and it was described as ******* ICONIC MAN! And we would never have got immediate national distribution with Dan Murphy’s if we hadn’t gone in this format.
(CC) Were there by chance any American craft beers that inspired the decision to start canning?
(NC) Certainly was – we got a whole bunch sent over to us about a year ago and I was blown away by the freshness and head retention of the beers we tried – much better than the average bottle we see over here. And when I heard Ken Grossman had decided to put his beers into cans then my final resistance was blown.
(CC) What is your personal favorite of the beers you brew?
(NC) I have severe trouble stopping drinking our AB The Pilsner. It’s Germanic in style apart from the Kiwi & US hops we put in at the end. I truly can’t stop drinking it and now I have it in the fridge constantly the problem has got more severe.
(CC) What is something that people might not know (but should) about The Australian Brewery?
(NC) Our Brewer, Dan Shaw’s dreadlocks aren’t real. Four hours and $500 in a salon…..
Read more HERE
Posted by Russ
Thursday, December 20th 2012
Q & A with Tin Man Brewing Company
It was only last month that Evanville, Indiana's Tin Man Brewing Company opened its doors and things are now in full swing with beer flowing in the brewery's taproom and cans being filled in the very near future. We caught up with owner Nick Davidson to learn more about Tin Man and how a love of robots and beer came together so perfectly. Cheers Nick, we can't wait to try your beers!
(CC) What is the background behind Tin Man Brewing?
(ND) Tin Man Brewing Company started from the combination of two of my favorite things, robots and beer. I had been a home brewer for over a decade. When I moved back to my hometown of Evansville, IN one of my first thoughts was, this town needs a production brewery again. See, Evansville at one time had quite a few breweries and was a real beer town. Sadly the last production brewery in Evansville, which produced Sterling Beer, closed in the late 90s and has since been raised. When it came to naming my brewery I decided to name it after my childhood love of robots. We wanted the robot logo and name to have a retro feel to it that conjured up images of early robots from the 50s. That's where the name Tin Man came from.
(CC) What made you decide to go with cans?
(ND) We decided to go with cans first and foremost because of our commitment to the environment. Cans are infinitely recyclable and that meant a lot to us when it came to deciding on our packaging. We also like cans because they keep two of the enemies of beer out, light and oxygen.
(CC) Which of your beers will you be canning?
(ND) We will be canning 4 of our 5 beers to start. Circuit Bohemian Pilsner, Rivet Irish Red, Alloy American IPA, and 3 Gear Robust Porter. We won't be canning our Dry Cell Irish Dry Stout, because that beer is meant to be nitrogenated and we have yet to find a solution for canning it that way.
(CC) Where will your beers be available?
(ND) Our beers will be available in liquor stores, grocery stores, and in bars around Evansville to start. The nice thing about Evansville is that it is so close to so many big cities, so we plan to expand past Evansville as quickly as we can.
(CC) What makes Tin Man Brewing unique?
(ND)There are many things that make Tin Man Brewing Company unique. We are the third brewery in the world to use the draft system we are using. We are also one of the first craft breweries to use a mash filter in our brewing process. We are not afraid to try new technologies in order to advance the craft brewing industry.
(CC) We love the designs on your cans. Who is responsible for them?
(ND) There are a couple of designers responsible for the design of our cans, Matt Wagner and Aaron Tanner. They've done such a great job and we're very proud of our cans.
(CC) What is something people might not know about Tin Man Brewing Company, but should?
(ND) The Coinverter series is our first line of beers. They are session beers created to give great flavor and aroma, but designed specifically to engage everyone and convert them into one of us. They range from 4.5% to 6% alcohol, are moderately hopped, and are great representations of their styles.
You can read more about Tin Man Brewing Company in this article by Kirby Bennett, which was featured on CraftBeer.Com
Posted by Russ
Monday, November 5th 2012
Fresh Off the Hop Farm
(Q & A with Bale Breaker Brewing)
Any brewer will tell you that fresh beer is best and when it comes to hoppy beers, the fresher the better. With that in mind, you propably can't get much fresher than having your brewery located in the middle of a hop field, right? Well, that is just where Washington State's Bale Breaker Brewing Company is setting up shop and where they plan to brew and can their beers in the coming months. We caught up with Bale Breaker's Meghann Quinn in order to find out more about the brewery and what we can expect in the near future. Cheers Meghann!
(CC) Tell us a little about Bale Breaker Brewing Company?
(BBBC) Bale Breaker Brewing Company is a new brewery starting up in the heart of the nation’s hop country, Yakima, Washington, by fourth-generation hop growers and siblings, Meghann Quinn, Kevin Smith, and Patrick Smith, and Meghann’s husband, Kevin Quinn. The Yakima Valley is responsible for producing about 75% of the nation’s hop crop each year, and our family has been growing hops on land in this area since 1932, the year before Prohibition ended. Now, 80 years later, our love of hops and passion for craft beer has led us to where we are today – in the midst of building a craft brewery surrounded by our family’s hop fields, just down the road from where we were born and raised.
(CC) For those that might not know, where did the name "Bale Breaker" come from?
(BBBC) When hops leave the farm, they are packaged in 200 pound, burlap-wrapped bales. Hop processing companies then use a specialized piece of equipment, called a bale breaker, to break apart these compressed bales of hops before sending them into the pelletizing machine. Not only did we think Bale Breaker was a cool name for a brewery, it’s fitting for us since our family has spent 80 years sending bales off to other breweries who have effectively “broken” those bales in order to make great beer. Now, it’s our turn!
(CC) In a crowded world of great craft beers, what makes Bale Breaker's beers special?
(BBBC) Many of the great craft beers in the marketplace today showcase Yakima Valley hops, but none have such a close connection to a hop farm as Bale Breaker does, with the hops literally being grown in our backyard. We hope that our unique story and long family history of hop farming will make people take notice and want to try our beer initially, but we know that what’s in the pint and can has to truly stand out in order for people to want more. Our handcrafted, hop-forward ales will feature the world-class hops grown in the Yakima Valley with loads of hop aroma and flavor in each glass.
(CC) Which of your beers will you be canning and when will they be released?
(BBBC) We will be canning our two flagship beers – Topcutter IPA and Field 41 Pale Ale. Our production facility is currently under construction, but we’re optimistic our cans will be released during the 1st quarter of 2013.
(CC) Where will folks be able to find your beers?
(BBBC) To begin, our distribution footprint will be fairly local, concentrated primarily in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. At some point, we hope to enter the Seattle market, but we’ll wait to see what the demand is like before making that decision.
(CC) We love the designs on the cans. Who is responsible for those?
(BBBC) Thanks! We had the help of the talented folks at Taphandles in Seattle, WA in designing our cans.
(CC) Speaking of designs. The hop in your logo has the number 41 in it. What is that about?
(BBBC) Our brewery is being built in the middle of hop field #41 on our family’s hop farm, so the 41 in our logo is a nod to our roots. Three acres of Cascades in field #41 were sacrificed in the name of craft beer!
(CC) What made you choose cans over bottles? What do you tell people about that choice?
(BBBC) Not only do we feel that cans are the best package for beer quality, we love how easy it is to pack cans in for a day on the ski hill or a weekend camping trip. Beyond that, the recyclability of aluminum played into our decision to can as well.
(CC) What are some of the best things about being located in the Yakima Valley? Of course there are the hops, but what else?
(BBBC) It’s the hops, for sure! Wine tourism in the Yakima Valley (also known as the Columbia Valley) has really picked up over the past decade, but hops are really this area’s heart and soul. The Yakima Valley has been a premier hop growing region since the late-1800’s, but very few breweries call the area home. Since wineries are often built in a vineyard, we think it’s time for a brewery to be built on a hop farm!
But, besides the hops, Yakima is also known for great weather (self-proclaimed as “The Palm Springs of Washington”) and a central location in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. We’re a short drive to the top beer cities of Seattle, Portland, and Spokane. We hope folks from around the area take advantage of Yakima’s great location and come tour the brewery and hop farm this summer!
(CC) What are some things that people might not know about Bale Breaker Brewing?
(BBBC) We’re all die-hard University of Washington Husky fans. All six of us (the three siblings and our significant others) received our undergraduate degrees from UW in Seattle. We’ll know the brewery has made it when we have a “Bale-gater” RV parked outside Husky Stadium every home football game! Additionally, we’re very passionate about ALS research and finding treatments and a cure for this terrible disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. We look forward to our brewery being an outlet to raise awareness and funds to fight ALS.
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, October 9th 2012
Introducing Ska Fabricating
Q & A with Matt Vincent
If you're fan of craft beer, you're likely familiar with Ska Brewing Company. The Durango, Colorado based brewery has been producing great beers since 1995. In 2002, the brewery took a leap of faith and began canning. Becoming one of the earliest believers in the benefits of cans. Since then they've released six different beers in cans including their extremely popular Modus Hoperandi and their newest addition, a stout brewed with three different chile peppers called Molé Autumnal Stout. For over a decade now they've been working with cans and in that time Matt Vincent, one of Ska's co-owners, has learned a lot. Over the year's his ingenuity and creativity have not only resolved problems in the brewhouse but inspired time and labor saving equipment.
This year Matt took all that experience and launched Ska Fabricating, a new business that will focus on machinery made specifically for brewers that can their beer. Before Matt took off for Sweden to represent Ska at the annual Stockhom Whisky and Beer Festival, we threw a bunch of questions at him about his new endeavor. Cheer Matt and best of luck!
(CC) Tell us a little bit about yourself...
(MV) I moved to Durango, CO from Tulsa, OK in 1991 to attend Fort Lewis college. I then proceeded to do exactly what my friends and family said I would do: Dropped out of college and became a ski bum. I worked at Purgatory as a lift operator for a couple of seasons and then I discovered good beer and how to make it. Myself and three other buddies decided to go in on a homebrew kit and it took off from there. Of the four of us, I was completely enamored with it. I was only 19 at the time, so creating something from scratch that "the man" wouldn't let me buy was pretty darn cool at that age. I kept on brewing as the other guys interest waned, because it was more work than they were willing to do. Durango Brewing Co. was conveniently right down the street from our house, so I would go down there and purchase grain and hops from them, at the same time telling the owner that I WILL be getting a job there soon. I started washing kegs and doing deliveries there a couple of weeks after my 21st birthday. Within the year, I quickly moved up the ladder, becoming the head brewer. About a year into that position, I was having a homebrew party at my house and these two characters showed up at the party with a keg of their own homebrew. That is how I met my partners at Ska, Dave Thibodeau and Bill Graham. Bill and Dave opened Ska up in 1995 and I quit Durango Brewing Co. to join them in 1996.
(CC) Where did the idea for Ska Fabricating come from?
Over the years, we have had to grow our business significantly to handle the growth we were experiencing. We kept running into problems along the way and the need to operate more efficiently. So, I would build some contraption or figure out a way to make the job easier. I've had a lot of help along the way. We have a machinist, Ron Andrews, that works out of his garage making titanium water bottle cages and can "Rube Goldberg" just about anything around. My partner in Ska Fabricating, Jim Krall is a very accomplished sanitary welder and mechanic. If there is a problem around the brewery, between the three of us, we can generally solve it. A lot of people kept telling me that I should sell that idea/machine. I finally decided to do it and start Ska Fabricating.
The main reason that I started Ska Fabricating is that I have a strong desire to help other breweries out with their problems. This is one of the few industries around in which competing companies still get along so well, sharing business ideas, recipes and collaborating on brews. Other industries don't get it and can't understand why we would even be talking to the competition. I tell them, "Well, I like their beer, that's why...". I want to continue to practice this business model by proving that cooperation, not competition, will make us all grow. f the world did business like the craft brewing industry does business, it would be a better place.
(CC) What is the relationship you have with Ska Brewing?
(MV) I am co-owner and Plant Manager. I have to give a lot of credit to my partners and managers, as they are all doing an excellent job and that is allowing me to devote time to this business. We are still growing like crazy at Ska, but our current goal is to settle down a little bit and watch the industry for the next couple of years to see where it is going with all the new breweries opening up. Over the past 5 years my main job at Ska has been Project Development. I have had a heavy hand in designing and building a beautiful new facility, installing tank farms, designing glycol systems, installing a centrifuge and building equipment to make employees happier and work more efficiently. I am still there on a daily basis solving any problems that arise and using our facility as a testing ground for new products for Ska Fabricating.
(CC) What sorts of products are you making?
(MV) Anything that helps. Our main product currently is the Can-i-Bus Can depalletizer. It seems to be a hot item that a lot of breweries need. Getting the cans to the filling line is often times overlooked and brewers think "Aw, we'll just figure it out..." A couple of pallets later, they are thinking "Crap, we should have done something about this." I also have a six packer out there that uses traditional six pack rings along with a can alignment feature to face your cans on the shelf. I am working on a very simple rinse cage and an inline can scale for knocking lowfills off the line.
(CC) What makes Ska Fabricating unique?
(MV) I think what makes us unique is that we are a brewery that makes equipment that brewers need. I have been working in the industry for almost 19 years now and I have done things wrong many times and I have seen things done wrong many times. I am amazed when I talk to machinery companies about something I need and they start rattling off high dollar ideas and super expensive solutions to seemingly simple problems. It almost becomes a challenge at that point. In a lot of situations, I feel that there is an easier or less expensive way to do it. I am also a firm believer in that I don't want to put a product out there that hasn't been proven. I want to run it onsite at our facility and know that it works before I can put our name on it. I feel there a lot of companies out there making machinery on paper with too many people looking at it which adds up quickly. They aren't in a situation where they can be there on a daily basis to see it run and work the kinks out.
(CC) It sounds like you're directly involved with everything including the actual fabrication. This is pretty hands on affair for you, right?
(MV) Absolutely. My partner in the business, Jim Krall, has years of welding and fabrication experience and we just hired two other guys to help with fabrication, installation and sales. Most of the concepts are mine, and I help with the construction and engineering, but he really knows how to make it come together at his shop. I also have the electronics experience and currently do all the wiring and programming myself.
(CC) Looking at the website I couldn't help but notice that your son, who is only 6, is also quite the innovator. Think he'll follow in your footsteps?
(MV) I would like to think so! He is fascinated with this stuff and is always asking me if we can build something on the weekends. He is learning how to weld and I got him some cool electronics kits he likes playing with.
(CC) Back in 2002, when Ska began canning their beer, it was a pretty stark landscape when it comes to craft beer in cans. How do you explain the recent explosion in the number of breweries choosing to go with cans?
(MV) Thanks to companies like Cask, Wild Goose, Ball, Rexam, and Crown, breweries can afford to get into canning. Before Cask made the deal with Ball, I think everyone scoffed at the idea of small scale canning. I think people are finally getting away from the stigma that bad beer comes in cans. It took a couple of us to prove that to people and now there are other people following suit. Cans are better suited to outdoor activities. They protect the beer well, they are lightweight and easily recyclable. It seems that the craft beer connoisseur tends to take a liking to do things outside and cans fit that bill very well.
(CC) If a person visits Durango for a long weekend what are some of the things that they shouldn't miss doing, seeing, eating and of course drinking?
(MV) First and foremost, Ska Brewing Co. should always be the first stop! We always have something entertaining going on in our tasting room and seasonally we offer delicious cuisine and live music. In the summer, Mesa Verde, the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge train, mountain biking, rafting, camping and brewery tastings are a fun way to see our area. In the winter, skiing at Durango Mountain resort, snow-kiting, and of course visiting local breweries. For food, I recommend breakfast at Carvers Brewing, lunch at Steamworks Brewing, dinner at Seasons and beers (possibly a shot or two) at the El Rancho...
(CC) Finally, how can folks learn more about Ska Fabricating?
Posted by Russ
Saturday, July 14th 2012
An American Brewer in Norway
Q & A with Mike Murphy
Brewmaster at Lervig Aktiebryggeri
Mike Murphy is an expat who has found himself living on the west coast of Norway and brewing beer for a local craft brewery. A little bit of wanderlust and love of beer has given Mike a brewer's resume that is somewhat akin to a European vacation. Mike gave us a shout to let us know that Lervig Aktiebryggeri, where he brews, has recently started to put their Lucky Jack American Pale Ale in cans - making them the first craft brewery in the country to can one of their beers. We wanted to learn more about this and about Mike so we threw a bunch of questions at him. Somehow he managed to find a bit of time between batches of beer to answer our questions. Cheers Mike! Skål
(CC) Tell us a little about yourself, where you live and what you do?
(MM) I am Mike Murphy, I am originally from Philly, I have been craft brewing professionally since 1999 and I started homebrewing early 90's. I live in Stavanger, Norway, I have a 9 month old daughter, and I like to travel obviously... I am the brewmaster at a small but well equipped brewery called Lervig Aktiebryggeri we are an independently owned brewery with around 40 investors.
(CC) How did you end up where you are today?
(MM) I moved to Italy in 1999 and met a woman who owned a pub, naturally I needed a good beer to drink, which was hard to find those days in rome. So I started a small brewery then called 'Rome Brewing Co' which i closed in 2004*, I then moved to Denmark and started brewing at a brewery called Gourmet Bryggeriet and I stayed there for 5 years. During the GB days we bought a brand called Ølfabrikken and we made 3 beers on can, including a 7,5% porter which was at the time the top rated porter on ratebeer...We also made a pilsner and a pale ale. I moved to Norway in 2010 and am the brewmaster at Lervig Aktiebryggeri in Stavanger on the west cost of Norway.
*(Side note) I have recently re-brewed some Rome brewing co beers this year to relaunch the brand as it was the first IPA in Italy and today IPA is very popular in Italy...
(CC) Tell us a little about Lervig Aktiebryggeri...
(MM) Lervig was started in 2003 by a group of locals who were upset at the fact that the local brewery in stavanger (Tou) was closed and production moved to Oslo after being bought out by Ringes (Carlsberg). The brewery has a working capacity of about 3,5million liters per year making it a larger of the small breweries, we have an optimisitcly sized brewhouse with a capacity of up to 28,000L per brew thats over 7000 gallons per brew. The brewery until I came in 2010 was mainly pointed after the pilsner market in norway. I as a craft brewer have taken this brewery in a new direction as I clearly saw once I came here they could not compete with the industrial giants in the pilsner market, nor did I want to make just pilsners, so i introduced our APA (Lucky Jack) which has seen a large cult following development in the region, since then we have introduced about 12 new beers from Saison to Imperial stouts... but we are still selling a lot of pilsner.
(CC) What is the craft beer culture like in Norway? Some Norwegian craft beers do make there way to the US - but very few.
(MM) Beer culture is growing in Norway, not as strong as it should be and not anything comparable to our Danish neighbors, but it is coming, I feel that the interest in beer is on the rise and perhaps here to stay, there are some traditions in norway from the old days,for example: it was a law that if you had a farm and you did not provide beer you can loose your farm to the king. Perhaps that could be a reason why there are so many homebrewers in Norway, another theroy I have is that since the alcohol tax in Norway is around $12.50 per gallon and is the highest alc tax in the world that is a good enough reason to brew at home... People complain about the price of Norwegian beers that make it to the US the funny fact is even though the beer has been exported to the US and distributed and marked up in price to cover the export expenses, the beer is still cheaper than it is to buy it here...
We are starting to see new festivals and new brewers here in norway but there is a long way to go.
(CC) What are some of the challenges that one faces brewing in Norway?
(MM) There are a few things about Norway that bug me, first and foremost there is a sort of demonization of alcohol here, the religious right wingers here are working hard to make a sort of prohibition on alcohol therefore as a producer of aloholic beverages we are not allowed to advertise our products in any public way, we can not even legally put up photos of the beer, the label or the discriptions on our website, this is enforeced by fines up to $5,000 per day. Technically we can not even have a Facebook page, but as long as we can show that no one employeed by the brewery is doing it then it isn't our fault so we do what we can to work around it, and learn the more subtle and indirect ways to get the word out about us, so far the best way is guerrilla tactics, we are bringing in as many people to the brewery and promoting ourselves as best we can, hoping to gain a new fan and that person will spread the word to his mates. Another result of this religeous zealotry is the fact that we as a brewery can not sell any beer over 4.7% in supermarkets nor directly to customers without a license. So it must be sold exclusivly through the state controlled vinmonopolet thus we are at the mercy of the government's abilty to sell our products. Another challenge here is that Norway hasn't any immediate resources for breweries so no malt and no hops, we have to ship in everything from abroad, this is expensive making it hard for us to compete with the rest of Europe on prices...and did I mention that the taxes are not fun either?
(CC) What styles tend to be the most popular with the craft beer drinkers over there?
(MM) Suprisingly they like sour beers here, but that is still a small % of drinkers, I would tend to believe the most sought after craft beers are the hoppy ones... perhaps the RIS is a favorite as well with many. I see more and more herbal beers as well, using locally found herbs and spices, this gives some sort of 'taste of place or terroir' to the beers which would almost be impossible otherwise.
(CC) Is there much exposure to American craft beer? Are the stereotypes about our beer still prevalent?
(MM) Yes there is a good volume of American craft beers available here, and for the general uniformed yes the stereotype that American beer is water is still prevelent. I usually try to enlighten people about the US craft beer phenomenon...
(CC) What types of beers do you brew at Lervig?
(MM) We brew many types and I believe we have a huge range of beers from normal every day (perhaps a bit better) pilsners, we make an APA, Belgian Wit, brown ale, amber ale, RIS, a rye IPA, a few saisons,Belgian dubbels, barrel-aged barleywine and a barrel aged RIS. I will be working on some Flemish brown ales this winter and perhaps a sour beer as well.
(CC) You just began canning some of these beers, correct? Which ones are you canning?
(MM) We are in the can market, at our level we have to be cas ans comprise almost all of the supermarket volume sales so we have been canning our pils, summer beer and Christmas beer since 2008, with the success of our APA we thought it was a good time to offer it in a can. I for one don't like to lug around empty bottles cans are so much more convenient and just more sexy if you ask me...
(CC) Is Lervig Aktiebryggeri the first craft brewery in Norway to can their beer?
(MM) I believe that to be correct, I can't see any other example of one, and the scene is quite new here so I can safely stick the Lervig flag in that one. Some may argue that we are not a craft brewery based purely on the size of our brewhouse, but I beg to differ, I am a craft brewer and I am brewing these beers as I always have brewed, just on a bigger scale. Putting 60 kg of dry hops into a 60,000L tank is fun!
(CC) What has the response been to canned "craft" beer in Norway?
(MM) So far it's been very positive, many people like that they can choose between cans or bottles and let the beer speak for itself... of course you won't see it on the menu at a local restaurant...
(CC) Do you find some folks can't wrap there heads around good beer in a can?
(MM) Many, even some craft beer die hards I know just won't believe it can be better or even good, they actually think the beers flavor is influenced by the metal contact... I like the argument that beer in kegs / fermentation tanks are contacting metal so whats the difference? and that in reality there is a spay lining in the can that is not metal.... just because industrial brewers use them doesn't mean it is inferior.
I think cans are the future...
(CC) Where are your cans sold?
(MM) So far in a few select supermarkets, and out our door has been popular...we have yet to fully launch it as we wait for the new listing available in September for the stores. Then we will see for real, I think it will catch on and by this time next year we will have 2 other craft beers in a can..
(CC) When not brewing, where are some of your favorite places to enjoy a beer?
(MM) I love to drink at friend's houses, in a park or by the beach... with friends mainly. There is a great beer bar in town here called Cardinal, they have over 500 types of beers, including Oskar Blues' Ten Fidy and Dale's Pale Ale in cans... I often go to Rome, Italy where you can find me drinking at Ma Che Siete Venuta a Fa, world's best beer bar!
Posted by Russ
Labels: canned Q and As
Wednesday, November 2nd 2011
Q & A: Pat Hartman and Ron Popma from Mobile Canning, LLC
One of the biggest obstacles for any craft brewery that wants to put their beer in cans is the cost of buying, maintaining and running a canning line. Not to mention storage of all those cans – and the labeling. We had the fortune of getting in touch some people who want to change all that. Pat Hartman and Ron Popma from Mobile Canning took the time to answer some questions about their potentially industry changing concept and what it means to lovers (and brewers) of craft beer everywhere!
(CC) Can you give us a brief background on Mobile Canning and the people involved?
(MC) Mobile Canning, LLC was started by two avid homebrewers in Longmont CO who saw the rapid growth of not only Craft Beer in Colorado, but Craft Beer in cans in Colorado and throughout the country. Pat Hartman and Ron Popma are the principle owners of Mobile Canning and products of the West Chester Area School District in West Chester Pennsylvania. After relocating to Colorado in the mid 90s to follow their love of the Mountains, both Pat and Ron found their love of home brewing and a passion for great beer, especially great beer in a can.
(CC) Where did the idea come from?
(MC) Pat attended the University of California at Davis Intensive Brewing Science for Practical Brewing in June of 2011. While talking with classmates, the concept of mobile bottling was discussed. Out of this concept, Mobile Canning was born. “Why couldn’t a mobile canning line work, the mobile bottlers have been doing it for years?”
(CC) What is the basic business model you hope to utilize/incorporate? What services will you offer?
(MC) Mobile Canning brings the canning line to the brewery, eliminating the capital expense, the need for in house canning expertise, and the headache associated with the care and feeding of the equipment. We supply blank cans and apply the breweries label or fill the breweries pre-printed cans, all right next to their bright tanks. If a brewery purchases pre-printed cans, we can warehouse the empty cans and bring what’s needed on a scheduled canning day which frees up the breweries space for what we all want them to focus on – Brewing more Beer!
(CC) What sort of labeling will you be doing for the cans?
(MC) We offer a few different options depending on the breweries needs. We can apply a shrink label to a blank can or we can store the preprinted cans in our facility. We also offer canning without a label and leave that up to the brewery. In the end, we will work with the brewery to get the job done. We strive to have the same kind of ingenuity and innovation that we see in the craft beer industry.
"Many startup breweries have invested a great deal of money in the brewing equipment. So when it comes time to enter the retail market, the capital may not be there."
(CC) Who do you think is the ideal client for your business? Any clients lined up yet?
(MC) Our ideal clients will be small to medium sized breweries who see the need to enter the retail market in cans. These are breweries who want to distribute beyond their tasting room and go beyond bottles. With our services, we allow them to reach these goals at a very low cost. The upfront capital investment in the canning line and the minimum order of cans becomes irrelevant when using Mobile Canning’s services. Breweries that might only need to can once or twice a month and breweries that want to test their beer in cans before making the investment are perfect for our services. Many startup breweries have invested a great deal of money in the brewing equipment. So when it comes time to enter the retail market, the capital may not be there. These breweries need to focus on what they do best, make great beer. Leave the packaging logistics to Mobile Canning.
(CC) Are you by chance working with Wild Goose Engineering there in Boulder to acquire the canning line you'll be using?
(MC) As a matter of fact we are utilizing a Wild Goose Engineering canning line. They are located in Boulder, which is considered by many to be the mecca for craft beer and they are engineering some great systems. Wild Goose has a great story and we are lucky to have them in our back yard.
(CC) Colorado is far and away the leader when it comes to canned craft beer. Why do you think that is?
(MC) Since Oskar Blues started canning Dales Pale Ale almost 10 years ago, the shift from glass to can has been occurring. The idea that glass is the best package on the market today is slowly shifting towards cans. Less carbon footprint to ship cans, full protection from UV light and oxidation, the introduction of the water based lining so beer and metal never touch and cans chill quicker, are just a few reason why cans are becoming the superior package. Oskar Blue’s brewery in Longmont CO is in our backyard and Dale and his team have been a great industry resource.
(CC) Having started the business that you did, you must be a fan of canned craft beer. What are some of your favorites?
(MC) That’s a tough one. I can say I’m biased to Colorado, for now. I’m for sure a fan of Oskar Blues Gordon (G’Knight). Avery White Rascal is very tasty along with Ska’s Modus Hoperandi. Boulder Beer’s Hazed and Infused is also one of our favorites. I can honestly say that I have not had a bad craft canned beer to date.
Posted by Kelly
Monday, August 15th 2011
Piney River Brewing Brings
Craft Beer in Cans to the Ozarks!
Every one of America's close to 1800 breweries has a story to tell. Joleen and Brian Durham's story is one that a few others may share parts of but its also one that is uniquely theirs. For this husband and wife team a love of brewing became a business earlier this year in the form of Piney River Brewing Company. Now that brewery is expanding and adding a canning line and the years not even over yet! We sat down (virtually) with Joleen who was great about answering all of the questions we had about running a small craft brewery in the Ozarks and their upcoming move to cans. Thanks so much Joleen and we wish you and Brian all the best! Cheers!
CC) What's the background story on Piney River Brewing Company?
JD) Piney River Brewing Company is owned by Joleen and Brian Durham. The brewery is located in the heart of the Ozarks in Bucyrus, MO, just upstream from the Big Piney River, a storied floating and fishing river that flows throughout Texas County.
Brian is the brewer. Joleen is the sensory panel and communications guru. Together we do everything from cleaning the floors to filling kegs. It’s definitely a hands-on partnership. We both have day jobs, so brewery work involves weekends and late nights. As Joleen likes to say, “We can sleep when we die.”
True to the do-it-yourself Ozark tradition, we began brewing on our kitchen stove, fermenting our beer in the cellar of our 100-year old farm house. Our friends and family were drinking our handcrafted homebrew faster than we could make it, which made us decide to take our entrepreneurial spirit, business know-how and love of craft beer to a new level. Renovating a 70-year old barn on our property for a brewery and a tap room (renamed “BARn”), Piney River Brewing Company was born. We were licensed in December 2010, and we had a soft opening of the brewery in March 2011.
We weren’t really sure how long we would be a nanobrewery when we started the BARn renovation and applying for our federal and state licenses. It became apparent very quickly that there was a demand for more craft beer options in the Ozarks.
We are currently in the middle of installing a 7-barrel brew house with 15-barrel fermentation vessels. We’ve been so caught up in the brewing that we still have work to do to complete our tap room in the BARn, but the customers love checking out our progress as we have time to work on the tap room.
CC) What made you decided to go with cans over bottles? Why 16 oz. cans and not 12 oz.?
JD) When we realized that the demand for craft beer in our area was there, we began discussing packaging options. A friend had given us some Oskar Blues long before we were starting our own brewery, and we really enjoyed it. We did our homework on cans versus bottles. We knew that the best way to preserve the flavor of our handcrafted beer was to use a can. We knew that cans made more ecological sense because they don’t weigh as much to ship and they are easier to recycle. We also knew that a canned craft beer would be sought after in an area like the Ozarks where most outdoor activities benefit from beer in light, non-breakable packaging. In fact, glass is not allowed on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. As canned craft beer has become more readily available, we have enjoyed craft beer while floating and fishing, and it takes craft beer to a whole new level! You’ll see on all of our cans--“Pack it in. Pack it out. Enjoy nature.”
We are very excited to be the first microbrewery in the state of Missouri to can our own beer on site!
16 oz. vs. 12 oz? Since we are celebrating the Big Piney River, we thought it only appropriate to have “Piney pints”.
CC) What type of canning line will you be using?
JD) We will use a Second Generation Micro-Can MC-100, 2-head automated canning system from Wild Goose Engineering in Boulder, CO. We are excited to have the first Micro-Can system installed in the state of Missouri.
CC) Which of your beers will we see in cans first? When?
JD) Our first two beers in cans will be Missouri Mule India Pale Ale and McKinney Eddy Amber Ale. We hope to have them available about the first part of October.
CC) Where do the names for your beers come from?
JD) Our beer names are inspired by the Ozarks. Here’s what you will read on our two forthcoming cans:
McKinney Eddy Amber Ale - In the heart of Texas County, McKinney Eddy on the Big Piney River was home to our friend and master blacksmith, Charlie McKinney. Charlie toiled over an anvil with purpose, passion and pure Ozark creativity—an inspiration for our handcrafted amber ale.
Missouri Mule IPA - Missouri mules hauled hundreds of wagons across the West and packed supplies in World Wars I & II. For decades, mules were also the most reliable Ozark farm hands. Like a Missouri mule, you can rely on our handcrafted India Pale Ale. This IPA packs a hop explosion that will not let you down.
CC) You guys started as a nanobrewery brewing 10 gallon batches, are you officially a craft brewery yet?
JD) Piney River Brewing has always been recognized by the TTB as a microbrewery. However, about the time we were starting our microbrewery, the craft beer world began to buzz with nanobrewery news. We’ve had a lot of fun with our nanobrewery status in the past few months as we’ve brewed our hearts out on our Sabco, 10-gallon system. Many people are interested in watching the success of a nanobrewery and whether or not the brewery can cross over to a larger system successfully. We are very close to crossing over to a full-fledged microbrewery with our new brewing system. We will have the BARn taproom where we’ll have our five beers available year round as well as some seasonal beers. Through our distributors we will provide our canned beer and kegs to retail establishments.
CC) Where are your cans going to be available for purchase?
JD) Currently, we have a distributor that covers a lot of the Ozark region, Grellner Sales and Service, and when we have cans, they will supply them to retail stores in the Ozarks. We also have interest in our cans from distributors in other territories near us, and we hope to bring additional distributors on board soon.
CC) What is something people might not know about Piney River Brewing Company?
JD) Between our web site, our blog, Facebook and Twitter, it’s hard to have any secrets. One thing that some people find to be very interesting is that we feed all of our spent grains to our small beef cattle herd (which we call “the girlfriends”). The girlfriends love the spent grain so much that when they hear us outside the BARn, talking or opening and closing doors, they will moo to us-just checkin’ to see if we might be bringing some warm grains out to them.
CC) What makes the Ozarks a great place to live and brew beer?
JD) The Ozarks were settled by hard working people looking for elbow room, a place to scratch out a living and a place with great water for their homes and livestock. Today in the Ozarks there is still a great respect for anyone that’s willing to work hard, and there’s a deep appreciation for everything from homegrown tomatoes to pasture raised beef to handcrafted beer. We are blessed to have excellent fresh water sources in the Ozarks, and our beer comes from water pumped out of the ground just a few hundred feet from the BARn. The water in our beer is simply fresh, pure and tasty, and we are excited to have the privilege of using it to craft our beer.
CC) Where is your favorite place to relax and have a beer?
JD) We have a large fire pit in our back yard where we enjoy building large and small bonfires. There are no street lights, so it’s just us, the moon and stars and any Ozark night creatures in the shadows. We turn some great tunes on and listen through our outdoor speakers, preferably something with a little banjo. Then, we kick back in the Adirondack chairs and find that the beer goes down really easy.
CC) Cheers Joleen and Brian, best of luck with everything!
Piney River Brewing Company Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Wednesday, June 29th 2011
The Aluminum Association:
Q & A with Stephen Gardner
What do you know actually know about aluminum?
How much do you actually know about the material that's used to produce all those beer cans you consume? The Aluminum Association's Vice President of Communications, Stephen Gardner, reached out to us and we thought it would be good to ask him some general questions about both the organization he represents and about aluminum in general. We hope you learn something new. Cheers Stephen!
(CC) Can you give us a little background on the Aluminum Association?
(SG) The Aluminum Association is a trade association that represents the primary (new aluminum), secondary (recycled) aluminum producers and a number of companies that the supply the aluminum industry in the United States. We advocate for industry positions in Congress and various federal agencies. But most of what we do is to promote the use of aluminum in our three largest markets packaging (including cans), building and construction and automobiles.
The Aluminum Association is 78 years old and was started by an act of Congress. The Congress wanted aluminum companies to work together and be better aligned to help the country produce more aluminum during the run up to World War II.
(CC) Where does most of the aluminum used in this country come from?
(SG) Most of the aluminum in the US is produced here in the US and in Canada.
(CC) How many companies in this country produce aluminum cans?
(SG) By our count there are four main can manufacturers in the U.S. (Metal Container (Anheuser-Busch), Crown, Ball and Rexam)
(CC) Have you been surprised by the rapid growth in American craft breweries choosing to can their beers over the last several years?
(SG) We have been surprised and thrilled with craft brewers moving to cans. Right now most of the growth in aluminum cans is coming from energy drinks, but craft brewers are gaining on them. We’re especially thrilled about the craft brewers because by moving into cans the brewers are taking on the largest myth about cans, that the beer won’t taste as good in a can. That’s simply not true and every time a brewer moves their beer into cans, we know that we are tearing down that myth.
(CC) When it comes to recycling aluminum cans, where does the US stand?
(SG) We just released our 2010 recycling rate for aluminum cans. We stand at 58.1%. While we’re glad that the recycling rate has improved, it still is not where it should be. Aluminum can recycling in the US peaked in 1997 at around 62%. We’ve been struggling to get back to that level. Globally, Europe and South America do much better than the US (on average) on recycling. Brazil has a 97% recycling rate, there are countries in Europe that are over 90% as well. The US is basically dragging down the global recycling rate for cans.
We think that most people are not aware that we used to recycle in larger numbers than we do today. People seem to think that recycling is an old issue and that we’ve done all we can. We can do more.
(CC) What sort of recycling promotion is the Aluminum Associating involved with?
(SG) We do a couple of things to promote recycling. One, we’re always looking for legislation in states to encourage people to recycle more. Every state takes a different approach, so it’s a challenge. Second, we fund an organization called Curbside Value Partnership that works with cities and towns to maximize their curbside recycling and help them boost recycling rates. It’s a great program, but the problem is huge and it’s tough to have a national impact helping one-three communities per year.
(CC) Has the Aluminum Association been involved directly any breweries in this country?
(SG) We have not worked specifically with any breweries in the US.
(CC) What makes the aluminum can such a sustainable product?
(SG) The great thing about aluminum is that once you have it, you have it for a long time. A can will go back and be recycled over and over again. Every time a can is recycled that means that we are using less energy, we’re mining less, we’re shipping less. The benefits are tremendous. Because it’s so easily recycled, we have an extremely high recycled content. 68% of every can is recycled aluminum. Another benefit is the weight and shape. The low weight helps with shipping costs and lowering the amount of carbon needed to ship goods. You probably don’t think much about the shape, but by not having a long neck that a bottle has, you have more efficient packing and transportation. It’s called “cube utilization” and the can is easily the most efficient beverage container for shipping.
(CC) What sort of goals are there for aluminum can recycling rates in this country?
(SG) We’re trying to reach a recycling rate of 75% by 2015. It’s a serious challenge and one that we’ll need help in reaching. People have to be made more aware of how valuable the used can is and how much it helps the environment to recycle. Did you know that the recycling rate in the US is so low that we have to import used cans from Mexico to help meet demand in the US? That’s ridiculous. People need to recycle their cans.
(CC) What is something people might not know about aluminum?
(SG) Here’s some good trivia about aluminum. Before modern smelting of aluminum the metal was so rare that it was more valuable than gold. Napoleon had dinner ware made out of aluminum because at the time it was the most extravagant use of aluminum that he could imagine. Aluminum is also the most abundant metal on the planet (we have a lot of it) and the second most abundant element, period.
Posted by Russ
Monday, June 20th 2011
Young Entrepreneurs to Start Mobile Canning Company
Say you're a small brewery or brewpub that wants to can some of your beers but you don't have the capital to buy a canning line nor the space to store thousands of empty beer cans. What do you do? For a long time now you've just dealt with the fact that it's not possible. Soon that might not be the case, thanks to some recent MBA grads from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. They're embarking on a a unique business venture that will bring the canning line to the brewery via what they call "The Can Van".
We were eager to learn more about The Can Van and the crew that stands behind the idea and the business so we reached out to them. They were very accommodating, even getting up early on the West Coast, to do a conference call to talk more about their upcoming venture. Cheers!
(CC) So, who all is involved in this business? You guys all went to school together and just recently graduated, correct?
(TCV) Yeah! The Can Van is made up of Lindsey Herrema, Jenn Coyle, Kate Drane, Jake Blackshear and Heath Cox. We developed the business plan during our MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. We loved the idea so much that we decided to launch the company.
(CC) Where did the whole idea for "The Can Van" come from?
(TCV) We love craft beer and wanted to help the little guys compete while promoting a packaging that’s better for the environment. Some places, like Alaska, don’t recycle glass at all. With cans, we hope to reduce landfill waste, and get more craft beer to outdoor markets. There are a lot of mobile bottling lines here in Northern California that serve wineries, so it seemed like a business model that could work.
(CC) Were you surprised to find that no one else had launched a similar business so far?
(TCV) Yeah, we were definitely surprised. Once we got down to the nitty gritty of the business model it made sense why people in the past might not have followed through. There are a lot of technical details to work out, but at the same time, it seems very do-able. Everybody we have talked to in the brewing industry has been super helpful and welcoming.
(CC) Could you describe the basic business model that you're in the process of putting into place?
(TCV) Well...its pretty simple. We have the canning equipment on a big trailer and we take it around to breweries within driving distance of the San Francisco Bay Area. We set up, can, palletize, and when we leave the brewery, they have a bunch of cans ready for market. Hooray!
(CC) What is the set-up that you're looking to have with the canning equipment and the van?
(TCV) The “van” is actually a trailer. We considered everything from the scooby-doo van to a semi-truck, but decided that a 36’ trailer, pulled behind a pickup would work the best.
(CC) What about the actual cans (the can above was just a mock up we did)?
(TCV) We recognize that the minimum order size for pre-printed cans from the manufacturer is a major roadblock preventing craft brewers from canning. So we’ll source blank or solid color cans and offer small-batch labelling, or we have storage capacity for brewers who want pre-printed cans, but don’t have a place to put them.
(CC) Who will benefit most from The Can Van's services?
(TCV) Cans help breweries get their beer in front of new markets, and the beauty of The Can Van is it allows them to do this without having to make a big upfront capital investment. They pay per can, as they go, without needing to worry about the extra labor or space required for their own canning line.
We can offer a big value to smaller breweries who wish to augment their bottle and keg distribution with cans, or even brew pubs who are not bottling. Larger breweries that want to try out canning in a test market or ramp up slowly before investing in their own equipment are also good customers.
Right now we’re looking for a couple of partner breweries in the San Francisco Bay Area to be our pilot customers.
(CC) Where do you see the canned craft beer market in the future?
(TCV) Based on all our conversations with breweries, cans are not a passing fad. Breweries offering cans are having a hard time meeting demand, as consumers love the idea of getting their favorite beer in cans.
(CC) What canned craft beers does The Can Van crew enjoy these days now that school is over?
(TCV) With all the breweries around us, there is still a striking lack of canned craft beer in our area. Some of our local favorites include Uncommon Brewers from Santa Cruz, and Anderson Valley in Boonville. For now we are enjoying the sunshine and local brews, and working to bring everybody more canned beer variety.
If you are interested in learning more about our service, please contact us!
The Can Van Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Friday, May 27th 2011
Who is Woody Chandler?
A Man. A Can. A Plan.
I first met Woody Chandler a few years ago at the American Craft Beer Festival in Boston. He was wearing the outfit above and posing for pictures with half drunken strangers. Little did I know that one day Woody and I would end up sharing a passion for canned craft beer. Woody would however take that passion to a level unmatched by other mortal men. He began what he called "The CANQuest™" and set out to drink and review as many different cans of beer as he possibly could. A quest that has gained him quite a bit of notoriety in the forums of several well known beer sites. If it has to do with something in cans, Woody is the man who would know the answer.
Recently he gave me a call to tell me he was drinking his 500th different can of beer (it was Kenai River's Skilak Scottish Ale if you're interested)! I couldn't help but marvel at the accomplishment as it hadn't taken Woody all that long and obtaining that many different cans is certainly a challenge. I wanted to know more about The CANQuest™ and the persona of the man behind it. I hit Woody up with some questions to which he was nice enough to respond. Enjoy! Oh, and if you see Woody at a beer event be sure to say hi!
(CC) Please give us a little background about yourself?
(WC) I grew up in Lancaster, PA as an underage beer drinker, joined the navy, discovered good or better beer, retired after 15.5 years of active duty service, attended Pitt where I turned classmates onto better beer, returned to Lancaster, became a high school English teacher at my alma mater ("Welcome Back, Woody"), bought a house, and continue to write, talk about and drink quality beer.
(CC) Briefly tell us about your CANQuest. When did it all begin and why?
(WC) The CANQuest™ grew out of a drunken late-nite rant about the BeerAdvocate Home Page being filled with Wants for Whales/Wales when I was hoping for some interesting reading. I postulated what would happen if somebody took up a quest for beers that nobody wanted or cared about and some jagov called me out on it. I then thought about an unexplored area on BA and came up with CANned beers. I then made it my mission to try any and all beers in a CAN, thinking that ~ 100 would be the cutoff. How naive! It has become a running joke that turned serious when craft CANs became the next big trend.
(CC) How many different canned beers have you now had the chance to drink and review?
(WC) I just broke the UNBELIEVABLE # 500 mark and am currently on a CAN Hiatus to realign my bottle numbers.
(CC) What different ways do you acquire cans for the CANQuest?
(WC) I have a legion of fellow CANQuesters who are CANstantly on the lookout for new CANs of beer for me to review. I am also on the prowl for keg CANs, but they are harder and harder to find.
(CC) With more and more breweries taking up canning will the CANQuest ever come to an end? Is there even a final goal?
(WC) I CAN't imagine that it will end while I am still alive, upright, breathing and with a viable liver. The final goal is like reaching the end of the Internet.
(CC) What are some memorable moments from The CANQuest™ thus far?
(WC) As the word about the madness (how refer to The CANQuest™) has spread, I have more and more people coming up to me to lay CANs on me. Boxes appear out of the blue. Sixpoint has mentioned sending me a sampler pack for review as soon as their CANs are ready.
(CC) What beer is slated to be the next to fall in The CANQuest™?
(WC) That would be telling! I scored a whole bunch recently at Pinocchio's in Media, PA and they may be next.
(CC) When you're not CANQuest-ing where can people find you?
(WC) In my classroom, at Iron Hill (Lancaster) or at home.
(CC) I've heard (and seen) some of your amazing costumes that you wear to different beer fests. What can you tell us about those?
(WC) I have really worked to hone my attire at fests and the standard is the brown (Franciscan) monk's robe that I have been wearing for about six or seven years now. It is heavy cloth and takes getting used to, but it was inspired by The Merry Monks & Maidens of Madison (WI), a non-profit fundraising organization that I joined during one of my first forays to The Great Taste of the Midwest. I joined their ranks as an out-of-town member and began wearing the robes to get used to a seven-hour stint in the blazing August heat for the next year. It has now become second skin and I wear it to most beer events. I also wear an apron, having been inspired by Jean-Louis Dits of Brasserie Vapeur de la Cochon, who wears an apron in honor of his late father, a butcher. I own a coveted Orval apron, but after it was signed (!) by Orval's head brewer, I retired it so that it would not get ruined. I now rotate through a stock of brewery/beer-related aprons. I also like to wear some headgear, ranging from foamy beer mugs to a pseudo-keg to a recent foam rubber beer bottle. I have yet to find a CAN hat.
My persona, BTW, is "Brother Woody with the Order of Disorder".
(CC) Where is your favorite place to sit, relax and have a beer?
(WC) Anywhere that features good beer and quality patrons. I hate to drink in a vacuum and I disdain crappy beer.
(CC) Cheers Woody! Best of luck with rest of The CANQuest™!
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, May 17th 2011
Canned in the Heart of Texas
Q & A with Michael Graham
(Co-Founder Austin Beerworks)
If you live in or around Austin, Texas and love good beer you've likely heard of Austin Beerworks. In a town that's fueled by originality and creativity they're new to the beer scene but they'll surely find their way without any problems. They just brewed their first batch of beer a little over 2 weeks ago, which was one of the final steps before all systems go. Now, with so much excitement going on and with becoming a full-fledged active brewery only weeks away we thought it would be good to learn a little more about one of the country's newest canning craft breweries. We gave Michael Graham, one of the breweries co-founders, a call and he was more than nice enough to answer all of our questions. Cheers Michael and all the best to you and the whole crew down in Austin! We can't wait to try your beer and we're sure neither can the locals.
(CC) Can you give us a little background about Austin Beerworks? When did the idea to open a brewery first come up?
(MG) Austin Beerworks is an owner-operated brewery. The four founders are: Adam DeBower, Will Golden, Mike McGovern and myself, Michael Graham.
Adam is the common link between all of us. He and I grew up together in Austin. We started drinking beer together and he taught me how to homebrew. Adam went to grad school in New York City, where he met Mike. Mike's wife is from Austin and he's been homebrewing for over 10 years. While in New York, Adam decided he wanted to be a professional brewer. That calling led him to work in what would eventually become the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland. It was there that he first worked with Will, who was lead brewer at the time. Shortly after Adam arrived, Will left to run a brewpub in Frederick, but the two remained good friends.
Through various circumstances, in June 2010 we all found ourselves willing and able to start a brewery together. Adam, Mike and I were all back living in Austin and it didn't take too much convincing to get Will and his wife to move down from Maryland. We've been working non-stop ever since.
(CC) Why did you choose to go with cans?
(MG) Cans offer distinct advantages over bottles. I would direct anyone who wants to learn about the benefits of canned beer to your "About" page. You do a great job hitting the major points.
In a nutshell, we feel that cans are better for the brewer (no broken glass in the brewery), better for the beer (no light or oxygen penetration), better for the consumer (many places where glass bottles aren't allowed) and better for the environment (much more efficient to transport and recycle).
On a more personal note, we feel that the cans say something about the beer we make. We brew all of our beers to be Bold and Clean. We're going for big flavor, with a nice clean finish. The look and feel of cans convey that better than bottles could.
(CC) What beers will you be brewing right off the bat? Which of those will be canned?
(MG) We're starting off with 4 styles: Fire Eagle American IPA, Peacemaker Extra Pale Ale, Pearlsnap Pils, and Black Thunder Schwarzbier.
We had initially planned on only releasing Fire Eagle and Peacemaker in cans, but the excitement for Pearl-Snap has been so great that we're going to start canning that also.
We'll also start brewing seasonals right off the bat, and let the market dictate what goes into cans next.
(CC) Who designed the labels and packaging for Austin Beer Works?
(MG) We're fortunate that Austin is a very design-friendly town. There are dozens of nationally recognized studios here. We're very happy with our choice.
Christian Helms of Helms Workshop is the man behind our cans. He's an incredibly talented designer - and he loves beer. It is a natural fit.
Our first meeting with him was supposed to be a quick 10 minute meet and greet, but it turned into a 2 hour, beer-fueled idea orgy. A lot of the groundwork for what our branding would eventually become was laid at that meeting.
(CC) When we were talking you mentioned that you played a little pro disc golf, a sport that goes very well with canned craft beer. Did your experience with disc golf lend to the idea of canning your beers?
(MG) I use the term "Pro" pretty loosely. I think my lifetime Disc Golf earnings come in just over $200. But yeah, I used to play all the time.
I had my first can of Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues while I was playing disc golf. It was the first craft beer in a can I had ever tasted and it blew me away.
I usually don't drink much while I'm playing, but as soon as our beer is in cans I might have to start.
(CC) Tell me again about tubing in Texas? You can bring a cooler on the river, just no bottles, right?
(MG) Tubing in Texas is one of the finest pleasures in life. There aren't many things more enjoyable than floating in cold water on a 100+ degree day. Having good beer with you is just icing on the cake.
There are no glass containers allowed in the major tubing rivers. And for good reason. Lots of bare feet mixed with broken glass is a bad combination. Canned beer is the only option.
People take their tubing seriously down here, often dedicating their best tubes for their coolers. It's common for tubing trips to last for several hours, so it's necessary to be well stocked.
(CC) When can we expect to see cans of Austin Beer Works beers on shelves?
(MG) We're proud to report that we brewed our first batch of beer on April 30. We started out with Fire Eagle, which we plan to ferment and condition for about 3 weeks. It's our plan to release both Fire Eagle and Peacemaker in kegs and cans at the same time - hopefully in late May. The lagers will take a few more weeks to mature.
(CC)Where is your favorite place in Austin to sit, relax and have a beer?
(MG) There are so many good spots to choose from in this town. Between all the great beer bars and outdoor parks, it is very hard to pick a favorite.
In all honesty, having a beer with the other guys at the brewery after a long day of work is hard to beat. I just can't wait until we can drink our own.
Austin Beerworks Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Monday, May 9th 2011
Fighting the Good Fight
Q & A with Gabe Harris
(President, Free the Hops)
If you're a craft beer lover living outside the state of Alabama you might want to consider yourself lucky. Don't get me wrong, its not that Alabamians don't have access to great beer, they do, its that their state has many (archaic) laws hindering the growth of it's craft beer industry (not to mention homebrewing, which is still illegal in the state). Thankfully craft beer-loving Alabamians have an organization on their side called "Free the Hops".
We wanted to know a little more about Free the Hops so we got in touch with Gabe Harris, the President of the organization. Gabe had been kind enough to send us some cans of Good People's beer not long ago and we're very thankful to him for that as well as for answering all of our questions. Cheers Gabe!
(CC) What exactly is "Free the Hops" and why should craft beer drinkers know about this organization?
(GH) Free the Hops is a grassroots, non-profit organization whose mission is to help bring the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama. We are motivated by a desire to have the same variety of choice when purchasing beer that Alabama citizens already enjoy when purchasing wine. Started in 2004 by Alabamians with no ties to any alcoholic beverage business, FTH was incorporated later that year and registered as an official 501(c)(6) non-profit in 2007. None of our members make any money off the grassroots effort.
(CC) What responsibilities do you have as President of Free the Hops?
(GH) My various roles in FTH up to and including being elected president are to secure sponsorship from breweries and businesses in Alabama and across the country to fund legislative and organization goals. Plans and coordinates events including the Magic City Brewfest which has had over 17,000 attendees in its four years as one of Alabama’s largest festivals. MCBF serves as our biggest fundraiser for our legislation. Oversees Free the Hops’ day to day operations while still maintaining role of business support and Magic City Brewfest as stated above.
(CC) What sort of events as well as legislation has Free the Hops been involved with in the past?
(GH) FTH passed "The Gourmet Beer Bill" in 2009 which changed the allowable alcohol by volume (ABV) in beer from 6% to 13.9%. Since then, the shelves of Alabama's bars, restaurants, and retail stores have added scores of new beers and the variety available to consumers has exploded. Not to mention the number of breweries in the state has increased.
(CC) What is Free the Hops currently fighting for in Alabama?
(GH) In 2011, FTH is pushing two new bills in the Alabama legislature:
The Brewery Modernization Act seeks to remove archaic restrictions that prevent Alabama breweries from operating tap rooms, and to remove hurdles that make it difficult to open brewpubs in our state, and to allow brewpubs to sell their beer to other retailers.
The Gourmet Bottle Bill seeks to raise the maximum package size allowed for the sale of beer. Right now, you won't find any beer sold in a bottle larger than 16 ounces, but hundreds of craft beers are packaged only in 22 ounce or 750 milliliter bottles.
(CC) I recently read about a previously discussed boycott of Anheuser-Busch products as well as those craft beer brands being distributed by them. What can you tell us about that?
(GH) FTH has begun some realistic discussions with the wholesalers in Alabama and accept Doug Bailey with Anheuser Busch's word that he and his company are neutral on both the Brewery Modernization Act and the Gourmet Bottle Bill. We are moving forward with a substitute bill for BMA that we can all live with. It will not be everything we wanted, but it is definitely a workable solution and represents a significant improvement over the current restrictions. We understand their perspective regarding the three-tier system much better now and trust they understand ours. Because of this, we are calling a ceasefire to the boycott.
(CC) How does the current situation in Alabama affect a brewery like Good People Brewing Company (the only craft brewery that cans their beer in the state)?
(GH) Good People Brewing Company has recently started canning two of their beers after moving into a new facility with new equipment. They need the Brewery Modernization Act (BMA) to pass so they can conduct tours, have a taproom and serve their beer at the brewery. This will allow for a new revenue stream to help grow their business and also help with the downtown revitalization that has been much discussed in Birmingham. Passing BMA will not only help GPBC but it will help other breweries around the state like Straight to Ale in Huntsville and Back Forty in Gadsden.
(CC) What can craft beer lovers do to help Free the Hops and our fellow craft beer lovers in Alabama?
(GH) Please check out - Free the Hops: How to Help
(CC) We can't resist this question. How much do you look forward to cans of Snakehandler Double IPA from Good People? Any word from Good People as to when that might come out.
(GH) I cannot wait for Snakehandler to be in cans. It's a great DIPA and the first one to be brewed in Alabama. Snake has tons of big piney and citrus hops but it has good balance as well so I think it will be perfect for a can. Hopefully it will hit the shelves sometime in July.
(CC) When you're at home in Alabama where is your favorite place to have a beer?
(GH) No question It's the J.Clyde on Cobb Lane in Birmingham. They are always on the cutting edge of new and hard to get beers in Alabama. The J.Clyde's beer list is impressive plus it's a fun and welcoming atmosphere to have a pint. Everyone there are truly craft beer fans as they keep their calendar full with beer dinners, cask tappings and blinded beer tastings. There's no place I'd rather have a beer.
(CC) We wish Free the Hops all the best and nothing but success. We also hope for a quick recovery for all those effected by the recent tornados that hit the state. Thanks again to Gabe Harris for taking the time to answer our questions. Cheers!
Free the Hops Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, May 3rd 2011
A Tribute to Glen Hay Falconer
Q & A with Garrett Marrero
(Maui Brewing Company)
Recently it was announced that Maui Brewing would be releasing a special edition canned offering paying homage to Glen Hay Falconer. A pioneering young brewer whose untimely death in 2002 was a major loss to a then relatively small and tight knit American craft brewing community. We were interested in learning more about this upcoming release and the relationship between Glen and Maui Brewing so we got in touch with Garrett Marrero, Founder of Maui Brewing Company. Garrett was kind enough to answer our questions and we certainly appreciate all the information he and Head Brewer, Scott Freitas, shared with us. Cheers Garrett and Scott!
(CC) What can you tell us about Glen Hay Falconer and the role he played, or the impact he had on, your life or those that you know that knew him?
(GM) I didn’t have the honor of meeting Glen as he passed prior to me getting into the business. Our head brewer Scott Freitas was his assistant brewer for a time and his best friend so I've asked him to answer some of these from the heart.
(SF) Glen played a strong role in the craft brewing community starting in the early 1990’s. He let his creativity run wild and pushed traditional beer styles bringing forward beers such as the Sasquatch Strong Ale, which developed cult status as a beer in the Pacific NW. His willingness to share his knowledge encouraged other brewers to push the envelope and break down the barriers of traditional brewing as well.
(CC) Maui Brewing is releasing a special canned IPA that pays tribute to Glen and is brewed with the hop blend, Falconer's Flight, that bears his name. How did the idea for this all come about?
(SF) HopUnion created a specialty hop blend, sort of a "Meritage of Hops" called Falconer's Flight in honor of Glen. Jessie Umbarger from HopUnion contacted us to offer MBC the first shipment of the new varietal. We approached Hopunion and BSG about a unique collaboration in developing a "tribute beer" in Glen's honor where a portion of the proceeds from sales would be donated to the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation.
(CC) How does this particular beer embody the spirit of Glen?
(SF) Glen would have loved to try this hop, most of them were not available yet when he was here. Glen loved IPA’s and session beers. This is an easy drinking, "session-like" IPA so we like to think he'd be a big fan. We'll certainly be lifting a bunch in his honor.
(CC) Proceeds from this beer will go to the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation which provides scholarships for those looking to further their brewing careers. What can you tell us about the importance of this foundation that was set up in Glen's name?
(SF) We believe this is a noble cause as the foundation gives scholarships to brewers wishing to attend Siebel and the American Brewing Guild to further develop their skills and hopefully lead craft beer into its future evolutions. I think this industry has developed largely due to the creativity and innovation that oftentimes start at the homebrewing level. Making the transition to professional brewing presents significant challenges if you don’t have the right training so I believe the training received at these schools is imperative to developing a solid foundation to build on. We need to be developing these talented homebrewers and those new to the industry to continue brewing innovative craft beer but also teach the importance of sanitation, yeast culturing, packaging, warehouse management and etc so they can grow with consistent duplicatable quality. As much fun as it is we need to be highly committed to some of the traits that made the big guys successful too.
(CC) When and where will this beer be available? We hear its a pretty limited batch.
(GM) This beer will be available May 2011 in HI, WA, OR, CA, CO, NV and possibly TX (if we can get labels approved there in time). This beer is limited to a production run of 200 bbls and after allowing for draft we'll only have about 2000 cases.
(CC) Does Maui have any plans to can any other new beers?
(GM/SF) Without a doubt. We're working on a calendar to be more organized with our releases rather than random. We'd like to see our core brews flanked by a limited and special release each quarter. Maybe a special release would be up to around 200 barrels with draft and can, limited far smaller and esoteric. We're all brainstorming and I've heard some great ideas from the team. Suffice to say that you're going to see some cool things coming in our future. All of us feel we've only scratched the surface with our 4 cans, being only 4 years old there is a lot left to explore.
(CC) What is your favorite place to enjoy a can of Maui beer?
(GM/SF) Mine is anywhere on, or near the water. Scott's is on his paddleboard on Napili Bay at Sunset. I think a pattern has emerged.
Maui Brewing Company Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, April 12th 2011
Q & A with Bill Manly
(Sierra Nevada Brewing Company)
Not that long ago the world of canned craft beer received a nice surprise when one of the major players in the industry, Chico, California's legendary Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, announced that they too would soon be canning. Lovers of their iconic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale would soon be able to rejoice with cans in hand. We wanted to know more about Sierra's decision to move forward with canning so we wrote to the brewery. Bill Manly, the company's Communications Coordinator, was kind enough to respond with some great answers to our questions. Cheers Bill!
(CC) What was it that made Sierra Nevada go forward with the idea of canning?
(BM) We decided to move forward with cans for several reasons. Chiefly we want people to be able to enjoy our beer in places where bottles just aren’t practical…camping, kayaking, hiking…etc. Sierra Nevada has long has a relationship with the outdoors (we’re named after a mountain range after all) and it is been a conundrum for years how to bring beer when we’re out there in the world. Cans are the obvious solution. Lighter to carry, pack flat, cool quickly and are just damn convenient.
(CC) Besides your iconic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which of your other brands do you see being canned?
(BM) Right now, we’re going to start with Pale Ale in 12-pack 12 oz cans, and Torpedo in 16 oz 4-packs. As the can program ramps up, we’ll examine other brand extensions from there.
(CC) Will cans of Sierra Nevada be available in the same markets as bottles?
(BM) We haven’t solidified our sales strategy yet, but we imagine cans will be sold alongside of bottles in most markets.
(CC) What type of canning line will the brewery be using?
(BM) Our canning line is a KHS 84 head line.
(CC) What does SNBC see as the major benefits to cans?
(BM) The reasons I mention previously, of course…cans going where bottles can’t. Also cans recycle more easily, weigh less, cut down on shipping costs, and are a great container for beer. (light-tight, less oxygen ingress…etc.)
(CC) How does fit in with the brewery's sustainability commitment?
(BM) Cans are a very sustainable option. As I mentioned before, they recycle very easily, cut down on shipping costs because of the reduced weight, which in turn, uses less energy.
(CC) Is canning here to stay?
(BM) I love cans, I think they are here to stay. There is still some stigma to the idea of canned beer…people not involved with the current craft movement still regard cans as for “junk beer” but the more brands that adopt canning, and the better the message around cans as a viable option…the more accepted they will be for a mass audience.
(CC) If you could crack open a can of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale anywhere in the world where would it be?
(BM) If I could open a can of Pale Ale anywhere in the world… I would pick a campsite in the redwoods along the Mendocino coast here in Northern California. I’m a recent transplant to California and that is one of the most interesting spots I have ever visited.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Friday, March 25th 2011
Q & A with Wild Goose Engineering Makers of the Micro-Can System
Colorado has certainly distanced itself from the other states when it comes to canned craft beer. The state clearly has the lead with 14 different breweries canning their beers (and more to come). It should come as no surprise that one of America's first company's to produce canning lines for craft brewers should hail from such hallowed ground. This is precisely where Wild Goose Engineering calls home and they're on the verge of making a big impact on the craft beer industry in this country with their "Micro-Can System". We wanted to know more about them and their canning lines so we posed a few questions to which they were nice enough to respond. Cheers and best of luck to you guys!
(CC) Can you give us some background on Wild Goose Engineering (history, location, what you do etc.)?
(CC) Are there any other canning lines being produced in the US?
(WG) Yes, there are at least two others in North America. One is Cask, whom you reference, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The other is PPM (Processing & Packaging Machine Corp.) from Merced, CA; a larger company specializing in bottling, but who have recently added small canning lines to their offering.
(CC) What breweries are using, or will be using, your canning lines?
(WG) Upslope in Boulder is running the beta system just about daily now (and sometimes well into the night!) in line with their production schedule.
We are very happy to say that our first production model automated line is in the works at the Breckenridge Brewery in Denver, CO where it will package not only the Wynkoop cans, but those for Breckenridge as well. Michigan Brewing Company in Lansing recently joined up and placed an order for systems as well. We have a manual system in the construction phases for Austin Beer Works, and additionally we are currently in serious discussion with several other craft breweries in Colorado and elsewhere. We are confident of a steady and continuing interest in the Wild Goose Micro-Can systems, but would prefer to refrain from naming names until the deals have been done, and we are fully 'partnered' with these breweries.
(CC) Is there anything that sets your lines apart from those already being made?
Additionally, we are truly the manufacturer, in that, we computer design and machine every part in house in our own machine shop. This has several major impacts on the design process as well as the finished product. First, it means we get to test every configuration in the computers first, and ensure every component fits together exactly before we make it. Then when we do make them, we're not stuck with having to make 50-100 of them to make the pricing work. We can do singles or small batches, and if for whatever reason revisions need to be made, we're not stuck feeling married to a design because of investment in inventory. Of course, every part we've ever made is stored, so we can easily do replacements should the need arise! This has allowed us to truly hone the automated line because during the development if we need a special part to do something or other, we would simply just make it an bolt it in and if it worked better, it became the new standard.
Wild Goose Engineering/Micro-Can Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Saturday, March 19th 2011
Craft Canning on the Kenai River
A few weeks ago a truck load of empty beer cans arrived at Soldotna, Alaska's Kenai River Brewing Company. Since that day, the brewery's owner and head brewer, Doug Hogue, has been a busy man. He and a host of others have been busy hand filling and seaming can after can of Skilak Scottish Ale probably to the point where they could do it in their sleep. This is a labor of love for Doug and the others at Kenai River Brewing Company as well as many other small brewers nationwide that also can their beer. Thankfully the fruits of their labor are pretty tasty and provide a much needed incentive at the end of a long day.
We wanted to know a little more about Kenai River Brewing Company's decision to become only the second craft brewery in Alaska to can their beer so wrote to Doug who was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer our questions which we truly appreciate. Cheers Doug!
(CC) When did Kenai River Brewing open and how many different beers are you guys brewing?
(DH) We opened Kenai River Brewing Company in June 2006 and currently brew 8 different ales along with 1 seasonal and one Single Hop IPA.
(CC) What led to the decision to can your beer?
(DH) We had built into our original business plan to begin packaging our beers by year 5. The question has been, what package? We pretty much decided to pursure cans by 2009 and began diligently working towards that reality in July 2010. Alaska is such an outdoor state and Kenai River Brewing Company is situated right by the best salmon fishing river in the world, that cans just made perfect sense to us. Besides - good craft beers tastes better in cans!!!
(CC) What type of canning line are you using?
(DH)We purchased a new Cask Manual Canning System.
(CC) Which of your beers are you canning now and which do you hope to put in cans eventually? Where will they be available?
(DH) We are currently canning our flagship ale Skilak Scottish Ale. We are finalizing artwork and have ordered another fermentation tank to prepare to can Sunken Island IPA by the start of the summer. After this we are considering both our Oatmeal/milk stout - Breakfast Beer, and our extra pale ale - Arctic XPA. Not sure which will be number 3....
(CC) Who designed the artwork on the Skilak Scottish Ale can?
(DH) Our local graphic designer Chris Jenness.
(CC) What are the biggest challenges facing a brewer in Alaska?
(DH) For us little guys - shipping! It gets pretty expensive bringing malt up to AK!
(CC) Do you feel that cans have any advantages over bottles in Alaska?
(DH) Great advantages - the perfect package for fishing, hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing...
(CC) The only other craft beer that is canned in Alaska is "Urban Wilderness" from Sleeping Lady Brewing in Anchorage. Do you think other Alaskan breweries will also eventually begin canning their beers?
(DH) We know that at least one other brewery is in the process of moving into canned beer here in the state.
(CC) When you're not at the brewery what is a great way to spend the day in Soldotna?
(DH) Hiking or fishing
(CC) A beer lover has one day in Soldotna, what should they do?
(DH) Hit the Kenai River early, catch a 50+ pound King Salmon, stop by the brewery for a celebration pint of one of our great beers, grab a 6 pack to enjoy later that evening, then there are two ways to take advantage of our 20+ hours of daylight, choice 1 - hike one of the many scenic mountain trails while enjoying the 6 pack you purchased earlier, choice 2 - visit one or three of the other local breweries on the Kenai Peninsula. Don't forget another 6 pack to check in your bag to take home.
Kenai River Brewing Company Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Friday, January 21 2011
Q & A with Pete Cornils
(President of the BCCA)
When CraftCans.Com went live a little less than a year ago we had no idea where the interest in the site would come from. One group that has been very supportive has been the folks who collect beer cans as a hobby. We've had the pleasure of being in touch with a number of collectors who've provided information, photos and a mutual resounding passion for their hobby. Recently we've been in contact with Pete Cornils, the President of the BCCA (by far the largest organization for beer can collectors). In an effort to shed some light on the BCCA, and the hobby it does a great job organizing, we thought we'd ask Pete some questions. Pete, being a very nice guy, agreed to answer them for us. Cheers Pete!
(CC) Please provide a little background on the BCCA
(PC) The BCCA began in St. Louis in 1970. Originally a beer can collecting club, the name was the Beer Can Collectors of America (BCCA) until 2003. Beer can collecting became very popular during the 1970s and remains a popular and fun hobby.
Now called the Brewery Collectibles Club of America, the BCCA is the premier brewery collectibles club in the world, offering a first class magazine Beer Cans and Brewery Collectibles, collectors’ books & resource guides, a website & forum, and an annual convention to its members. The BCCA’s longevity, influence, and popularity have helped establish beer-related memorabilia as serious collectibles.
CC) How did you become active in the organization and eventually President?
(PC) In 2000 I was elected to the club’s Board of Directors. I also served as its Marketing Committee Chairperson for two years and wrote for the magazine. Eventually, I became interested in helping steer the organization at a higher level and was selected to be the club’s Secretary in 2008, VP in 2009, and President in 2010.
CC) How many members does the BCCA now have?
(PC) The BCCA has over 3,500 members worldwide and is growing.
CC) What is a CANvention©?
PC) CANvention© is an annual three-day hotel convention/trade show put on by the BCCA. Up to 1000 members and guests attend in order to have massive amounts of fun while acquiring brewery collectibles for their collections.
CANvention© includes three-days of main floor and room-to-room hotel trading, brewery tours, seminars, display contests, a craft-beer swap, an entire night of craft beer tasting, theme parties, business meetings, and an awards banquet.
CANvention© usually takes place in a different city each year and occurs around Labor Day. This year’s CANvention is in Covington, KY, September 1-3.
CC) How has the recent craft beer switch to cans impacted collectors and the hobby as a whole?
(PC) Yes, the craft beer switch to cans has had a positive impact on collectors. Craft cans are new and exciting and thus have garnered much interest among hobbyists. Both long-time and newer collectors are avidly collecting craft cans. Many hobbyists have also embraced drinking craft beer, so it’s a wonderful marriage of the two interests.
(CC) Has the BCCA worked with, or reached out to, the craft breweries that can their beers in any way?
(PC) Indeed, the BCCA implemented a “Corporate Sponsorship Program” several years ago to strengthen relationships between the BCCA and craft breweries.
There are many local craft breweries that support BCCA Chapter events. BCCA Chapters that benefit from craft brewery support will in turn sponsor the breweries’ memberships in the BCCA. They further direct their members to patronize the brewery whenever they buy beer. We believe it’s a successful symbiosis.
Although the BCCA wants to strengthen it’s connection to all craft breweries, craft breweries who are canning their beers are especially exciting for our members because of our long association with canned beer.
In addition, the BCCA maintains the most comprehensive and up-to-date craft brewery listing that you can find on the internet.
CC) What is the "Can of the Year" award? How is it selected and have any craft cans won this award?
(PC) Since 1972, the “Can of the Year” award has been given to breweries to honor excellence in design.
Each year the BCCA’s 108 Chapters around the world nominate cans that have come to market during the past year and have appeared in our magazine. The nominees are then voted upon by the BCCA membership. The award is announced at CANvention©.
Craft cans have won every year since 2006. Keweenaw (2006), Schell’s and New England (2007), Maui (2008), New Belgium (2009) and Bayern (2010) have been the winners.
(CC) What would you say is the best part of beer can collecting?
(PC) For me, finding a cool can for my collection creates a certain excitement. I suppose it’s like the excitement any person gets when they find some kind of treasure.
Another great part of beer can collecting is the social interaction with other collectors. Sharing beers and then trading the cans equals instant fun, friends, and camaraderie!
CC) Do you think canned craft beer is here to stay?
(PC) Absolutely. Although beer can manufacturers have been touting the superiority of cans over bottles since 1935, it now seems almost old-fashioned to assert that beer tastes better from bottles. Can advocates appear to have finally won-over the hearts and taste buds of craft beer fans!
Years ago, I think small brewers were simply priced-out of expensive packaging such as cans. But now it’s different. When you can charge $12 per six-pack, the packaging cost becomes less of a concern.
(CC) What was the last great beer you had?
(PC) A Rochester Mills IPA in a 16-ounce can! YUM!
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, January 11th 2011
A Collector's Perspective:
Q & A with Bob Renforth
(Craft Can Collector)
It's always interesting to see a vast and comprehensive collection of anything. I guess that is why I was totally blown away by Bob Renforth's collection of craft beer cans. He has a virtual museum of modern beer cans in his home! We reached out to Bob to see what drives his passion and to learn a little more about his very enviable collection of craft beer cans. Cheers Bob and thanks for your time!
Name - Bob Renforth
(CC) How long have you been collecting, how many cans do you h ave in your collection and what is the can in your collection that holds the most value to you?
(BR) I have been collecting beer cans for roughly 30 years, and have well over 3,000 cans in my collection. I am however, in the process of downsizing my collection as I do not have the space to display it all. I would say my Wooden Shoe cone top from Minster, Ohio is my favorite can. It was my first cone top and my wife had purchased it for my 23rd Birthday. I've had it for 30 years now, and it is the one can I will never part with.
(CC) How many craft beer cans are in your collection? What was the first craft beer can that you added to your collection?
(BR) I currently have over 200 craft beer cans in my collection. Several years ago, Pete's Wicked Ale released their Summer Brew in a can. This I believe was the first time a smaller brewery considered canning beer. Not knowing it at the time I picked it up, I now consider this can as my first craft beer can.
(CC) As a beer can collector, how do you feel the recent switch to cans for many craft breweries has impacted your hobby?
(BR) I believe it is good for both the hobby and the environment. The sooner they stop putting beer in glass bottles the better. More breweries should get on line with canning their products. As environmentally involved as New Belgium is in brewing their beers, I would love to see them go with cans only.
(CC) Do you feel this is inspiring new collectors to get involved in a hobby that may not have a lot of younger participants?
(BR) I hope that it does, however I don't believe the younger generation is into collecting much of anything. I fear that one day, all these collections will end up at the recyclers.
(CC) Are you affiliated with any can collecting clubs or groups? Do you go to can collecting conventions?
(BR) I've belonged to the Brewery Collectibles Club of America (BCCA) since 1981. I have been to four Canventions, and they are a blast. The camaraderie among long time collectors is pretty special.
(CC) Typically, what brand of beers do you usually drink?
(BR) Never being a fan of the national giants since Stroh's went under; I try to drink only craft beers now. Some of my favorites are the winter brews but I love a good Hefeweizen as well.
(CC) Which craft beer can do you most want to add to your collection?
(BR) The next one!
(CC) Is there a craft beer can that has a lot of value to collectors?
(BR) I believe that depends on the individual collector. They may decide to collect only regional cans or maybe just cans from breweries they have visited. The colorful graphics and unique names given to the different beers make it hard to resist any of them. The microbreweries that "can," have a good thing going right now.
(CC) How do you acquire new cans for your collection?
(BR) The internet is a quick way to pick up cans from around the country, and belonging to the BCCA is like having a network of nationwide collectors at your fingertips. As soon as a new can is released the word goes out, and collectors gobble them up. I would suggest to anyone that is just starting to collect beer cans to look into joining the BCCA. You can find out more at www.bcca.com.
(CC) What are your thoughts about the possibility that many more craft breweries will be switching to cans in the future?
(BR) I believe there is always that possibility. As more do, it should bring costs down in the canning process. I do like your article about the "can-collaboration." This may be the ticket for two small craft breweries to join forces in canning their products. I believe that in order for this model to work and still be cost effective the breweries involved would have to be fairly close to the same canning manufacturer. Of course, this is looking at it from the outside in.
Posted by Russ
Thursday, January 6th 2011
Beer Can Basketball!
Q & A with AJ Severino
(Inventor of Brewski Ball)
Wondering what to do with all those empty cans? Well, if you don't collect them you can have a little fun before recycling them, or redeeming them for more beer money, by playing a little beer can basketball or "Brewski Ball". All you need is one of these hoops and a thirst for canned beer. We caught up with AJ Severino, one of the co-inventors of Brewski Ball, to find out more.
(CC) What is the story behind Brewski Ball?
(AJ) We (AJ Severino and Steve King), created Brewski Ball in our home town of Kansas City, Missouri by accident a few years ago. We were frustrated with our friends throwing their empty cans in the trash instead of recycling them for more beer money. We found a small copper head collector (a gutter component) left over from a job. We hung it on the wall, placed a recycle bin underneath and told everyone to “make the shot”. After a few material and design changes we created Brewski Ball – Beer Can Basketball in early 2010.
(CC) How do you play?
(AJ) Brewski Ball is simple:
2. Crush (or don't)
(AJ) But you can also play typical basketball games like H.O.R.S.E and Around the World. You play with the same rules but if you completely miss the backboard and bucket then you take a drink. The loser usually grabs the next round of beers as well. Our personal favorite is "21" which must be played on a Brewski Totem (pictured above). Detailed rules are on our site (www.brewski-ball.com/rules.htm). Bottom line, make more shots than your friends!
(CC) How are the Brewski Ball "hoops" made?
(AJ) We make the buckets from 28 gauge galvanized sheet metal. A pattern is cut from a flat sheet, bent and pop-riveted together. We then powder coat each one so the cans don't scratch them. The buckets then are screwed to an oak plywood backboard.
(CC) How can they be customized?
(AJ) The customer can choose their own bucket color and backboard color. We have most color combinations, but if they don't like the colors we have available, we will be glad to make a new one. Once you own your Brewski Ball you can add any team logo that you want. We are not currently able to sell licensed NFL, NCAA etc stickers but we are working on it.
(CC) Do cans need to be crushed to play Brewski Ball? (some states don't want you to crush them before you recycle them)
(AJ) No, you can toss non-crushed cans but they don't work as well as a perfectly crushed one.
• 96.6 Billion Aluminum cans were sold in the US
• 33.4 Billion were “alcoholic” cans
• 55.5 Billion Aluminum cans were recycled (57%)
• 41.1 Billion Aluminum cans (1.2 Billion pounds) were NOT recycled
• Brewski Ball increases recycling rates by 100% when used properly
(CC) How can people get their own Brewski Ball hoop?
(AJ) Please visit www.brewski-ball.com or call 816-896-6324
(CC) What does the future hold for Brewski Ball?
(AJ) We are really excited about 2011. We are heading to Las Vegas on January 17th through the 20th for the largest tailgate and sports licensing show to sell direct to sports shops and tailgate stores. We are also working on some very exciting concepts with a fellow Kansas City inventor that has a cooler that launches cold beer cans by remote control called Shoot A Brew. Talk about craft beer can heaven!
(CC) We here at CraftCans may need to get a Brewski Ball hoop with our logo on it to try it out! Cheers AJ! Great invention! Best of luck!
Posted by Russ
Thursday, December 23rd 2010
Q & A with Dave Thibodeau
(Ska Brewing Company)
Ska Brewing Company is a household name for many when it comes to craft beer (including the canned variety of course). They've been around for 15 years now, they distribute widely, and they certainly make some excellent products. Ska is currently undergoing a second expansion (including the recent installation of a second canning line) and we wanted to know a little bit more about that, as well as some other things, so we contacted Ska co-founder and President, Dave Thibodeau.
Dave is one of the three co-founder's of Ska and was generous enough to take time out of his day to share his answers to our questions. If you read carefully you'll certainly be excited by some of the things that Dave has to say. Cheers Dave!
(CC) Ska became the second craft brewery to put their beer in cans when your Special ESB was canned in 2003. Did you guys ever foresee the day when so many other craft breweries would also be canning their beers?
(DT) Good Question—we had just bought a new bottling line when the can idea came along, so although we thought it was a great idea we were hesitant to cannibalize our bottle sales. This is where we have to hand it to Oskar Blues--They had the balls to just go for it, put what at the time was a fairly big sticky pale ale in cans, and tell the world! Had it been anyone else, I don’t think the canned craft beer curve would be nearly as steep. As soon as we saw what our Colorado brethren were doing, we had to go for it as well! I really think OB’s marketing efforts and Dale’s Pale Ale deserve much of the credit.
(CC) You guys partner with Venture Snowboards for your Euphoria Pale Ale, for the only brewing company/snowboard company partnership that I can think of. How exactly did all that come to be?
(DT) Well, we used to brew a special India Pale Ale for Purgatory Ski Area in the Winter, but they were going to close the main lodge (and the beer’s namesake) and we wanted to alter the recipe and make the beer a bit more broadly available. Venture is owned by Klem and Lisa Branner, a very cool couple with similar ideals as far as business, sustainability, and fun go, and we thought it would be a sweet partnership and we liked the idea that both of our products were “Hand-crafted in the Mighty San Juans.” Not only that, but they make high-end boards, and what company wouldn’t want their own custom limited board every year? Oh, and they LOVE good craft beer!
(CC) We love the labels and artwork on both Ska's bottles and cans. Who is the artist behind all those great graphics?
(DT) When we first started we wrote a comic book about our battle with Rotgutzen (www.rotgutzen.com) and their CEO, the hated and feared Pinstripe Red. Originally our friend Matt Rousseau (of Your Flesh Tattoo) came up with the Ska logo, the Pinstripe logo, and the True Blonde logo, and then we continued to play out the comic book piecemeal on our labels and packaging with the help of another artist, Dorn Roberts. Dorn has done everything for the last 14 years. You’ll notice that most of the labels and many of the beer names feature characters from the comic.
(CC) Ska currently cans four of their beers. With the planned expansion in 2011, can we expect to see any new canned offerings in the near future?
(DT) You can, can. For the first time since we started making our summer seasonal Mexican Logger 10 years ago, we will not only be packaging it in cans, but we will be making it available in our markets outside of Durango. It’s a crisp, refreshing lager that the town of Durango has always loved to cram limes in and drink an extreme amount of. This spring we’re increasing our capacity 70% by adding outdoor fermenters, and therefore alleviating the pain for thirsty summer lager drinkers elsewhere in the universe. It’s still on the D.L., but in addition to the Mexican Logger, you’ll more than likely see a series of 4 new Ska cans in the next year!
(CC) Are American craft beer drinkers ready for big beers in cans or will we continue to mainly see the more approachable/session brews being canned?
(DT) I think they are ready, but at the same time I know my own tastes keep fluctuating—right now I’m not drinking nearly as many big beers as I have been for the last few years. I’m liking well-made sessionable beers. I tend to drink many beers, and I guess I’m in fill-the-recycling-bin-to-the-top mode right now. That being said, those 4 beers I mentioned in the question above certainly aren’t session beers!
(CC) Is Colorado king when it comes to canned craft beers?
(DT) I’d put us in “Pioneer” status, and royalty for sure. Yeah, yeah I think Colorado is King.
(CC) What beer(s) will be in your fridge this holiday season?
(DT) We’re fortunate in that we’re also a wholesaler in SW Colorado and we distribute a lot of our friend’s beers—Don’t tell them this, but we probably drink more of it than we sell! Anyhow, I’ve got a nice stash of limited and seasonal beers from them including Left Hand’s Fade to Black and Wake Up Dead, as well as Stone’s 10-10-10 Vertical Epic, Avery Old Jubilation and Bristol’s Winter Warlock. This sounds a bit counter to my “sessionable” beer kick I just referenced earlier, so to balance it out I’ll drink a lot of Ska Euphoria.
(CC) What is something people may not know about Ska Brewing Company?
(DT) We started back in 1995 because it seemed a better way to support our beer festival habit—we’d bring beer, get in for free, and get hotel rooms in exchange for the beer, and the rooms were a hell of a lot nicer than my car that I lived in that first year!
Ska Brewing Company Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, November 30th 2010
Good People Cans are Coming Soon!
Q & A with Jason Malone
(Good People Brewing Company)
By the end of 2010, Birmingham, Alabama's Good People Brewing Company will become the first craft brewery in the state to can their beers. This bold move will likely payoff well in a region that is experiencing quickly lots of growth when it comes to craft beer consumption.
Recently I got in touch with Jason Malone, Good People's Head Brewer/Owner, who was very generous with his time and answered my questions as he and his colleagues prepare to line the local beer store shelves with their first batch of cans.
(CC) What was it that first made you consider canning your beers?
(JM) We firmly believe that it's a superior packaging system than bottles. From the perspective of the product, it protects the beer from light and oxygen. From the perspective of the consumer, it's lightweight, more portable, and easily recycled (our local recycling pick-up service will not pick up glass).
(JM) We have plans to can our Coffee Oatmeal Stout, Snake Handler DIPA, and Hitchhiker IPA, and Pale Ale.
(CC) Will the switch to cans make your beers more widely available?
(JM) Yes. We are currently draft only so canning will dramatically increase the availability of our product.
(CC) Can you give us some background info on the designs for the cans of IPA and Brown Ale?
(JM) We got together with a local artist, Matthew Lewis, and he was able to graphically capture the look we had in mind. The cans were inspired by vintage cans. We like the look of old beer or oil can collections. When grouped together, each is unique but similarities are able to be found in fonts, styles, colors, lines, etc....
(CC) How has being one of only a few breweries in the state of Alabama affected your brewery?
(JM) Hmmmm....that's tough to say cuz it's all we know. More breweries are in the works, we are working on a few new projects ourselves, so the brewing culture in Alabama is certainly changing.
(CC) I am obviously pretty excited about your beers being canned, what about your local consumers? Are they excited or will it take some time to win them over?
(JM) Well, as you might expect...the beer savvy crowd is very excited. They understand the benefits of cans versus bottles and are very supportive of the decision. The newer craft beer is to a person, I sense a higher level of surprise when they hear we are going to be canning instead of bottling. So many folks just think bottles are better because they were once told it was so. We are looking forward to introducing craft beer in a can to wide cross section of people.
(CC) What is something people might not know about Good People Brewing?
(JM) We are in the middle of a large expansion. In addition to our new canning line, we have 4 new 60 bbl fermenters and a 30 bbl brewhouse which are going to be up and running in just a few weeks.
We are also excited about our County Line Small Batch Ales which is another project we launched a couple of week ago. Alabama State Law prohibits beer from being packaged in anything over 16ozs. There are a few counties, all very rural counties, that have county exceptions which do indeed allow large container size. Free the Hops, the grass roots organization which was created to bring change to out of date beer laws in the State, is currently working to change the State law relating to container size. These beers are all bottle conditioned in 22oz bombers and exclusively sold at one Exxon gas station in Coosa County (1.5 hours South of Birmingham). Not only are we excited to be able to offer these unique small batch beers, but we are also excited about raising awareness to the need for changing the laws and helping the efforts of Free the Hops.
(CC) Cheers to Jason and best of luck to everyone at Good People in the years to come. CANgratulations!
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, October 19th 2010
America's First Canned Pumpkin Ale
The Wild Onion Brewing Company has just taken to canning some of their beers this past year. In that short period of time, however, they've managed to do something no other brewery in this country has yet to do, they've canned a pumpkin ale!
I was pretty excited when I first heard from brewery co-owner, Mike Kainz, that their Pumpkin Ale was to be canned. Mike was generous enough to send some samples our way and to answer some questions we had about this unique beer. Cheers!
(CC) Can you give us a little background on this beer?
(MK) We have been brewing our version of a Pumpkin Ale for quite some time now-starting in 1997 in 12 oz. bottles in the Chicago and Milwaukee markets.
In 2003, we moved down the street from our original brewery and warehouse into our current brewpub location. From 2003-2009, we brewed it for draught at our pub and a few select bars. The recipe follows a long R & D process starting on our pilot brewery in my parent's garage in the early '90's. Fortunately for my brothers and I, my parents were willing to park outside the garage for many months while we brewed with varying amounts of pumpkin, malt, hops, and spices. We learned early on that too much pumpkin actually translated to too much alcohol, and didn't necessarily make for a balanced brew.
We add spices in the whirlpool, and also "dry spice" it while conditioning. The exact amount of pumpkin remains under lock and key, right alongside the KFC and Coke recipes (hah!)
(CC) When did you decide to can it? Did you know that it would be the first pumpkin beer canned in the US?
(MK) We decided to can it at the end of the summer, after having a great response at some late-summer beer festivals. Although a little late in release (compared to other fall seasonals), we felt it was worth pushing hard to get it on the shelves in Northern Illinois and Milwaukee this season. We installed our new canning line earlier this year, and had spent the spring and summer establishing our flagship brand, Paddy Pale Ale. We didn't know it would be the first Pumpkin Ale canned in the U.S.-had we known that, I think we would have started a lot earlier in preparation.
The challenge for a small-scale brewery like ours is that the minimum order for a can run on any new style is about 80,000 cans, so you have to have room for all those pallets. We'll end up producing around 500 cases this season, but will be geared up for a much larger release next year.
(CC) Who is responsible for the art on the can?
(MK) The art on the can was done by our longtime graphic artist and friend, Tim Hooker. He has done all of our artwork since we started brewing in 1997, and I think he really nailed it on this design. The vibrant orange really seems to grab people's attention, which is certainly something you want to do in today's very competitive craft beer market (especially Chicago).
(CC) What has been the initial response to this beer in cans?
(MK) Demand has been far greater than expected, and we find ourselves scrambling to brew and package enough Pumpkin Ale to keep up!
(CC) Will this be an annual canned release?
(MK) This will definitely be an annual release for us, and I'm already looking forward to shipping far beyond the Chicago market next year. Hopefully our entrance into the New England market this season is a positive sign of things to come.
If you get the chance be sure to grab some of these cans before they are all gone! For more information please check out The Wild Onion Brewing Company site.
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, October 12th 2010
A Collector's Perspective: Q & A with David Smith (Craft Can Collector)
A few weeks ago I asked some folks over at TheRustyBunch (a site devoted to those that collect beer cans) for their insight on what the canned craft beer movement means to them and their hobby. I received a lot of feedback from a lot of great people. Thanks to all of them. It was interesting to learn about how the canned craft beer movement has really excited a lot of collectors. Below is look at one "Collector's Perspective" when it comes to craft beer in cans.
Name - David Smith
Hometown - Greensboro NC
(CC) How long have you been collecting, how many cans do you have in your collection and what is the can in your collection that holds the most value to you?
(DS) I started collecting in 1976 but stopped around 1982. I then picked it back up about 5 years ago. My favorite can is my Dixie Beer flat top from Mountain Brewing in Roanoke Va. It was only produced from 1951-1954. I curently have around 70 craft cans and 300 or so flats, cones, and tabs.
(CC) How many craft beer cans are in your collection? What was the first craft beer can that you added to your collection?
(DS) I have roughly 70 craft cans in my collection. I was fortunate enough to have Micheal Boardman jump start my craft collection with 20 or so cans at once so my first can was really 20 cans!
(CC) As a beer can collector, how do you feel the recent switch to cans for many craft breweries has impacted your hobby?
(DS) The main impact it had on me was to allow me to keep collecting. Due to the economy, I had to sell off most of my flats and cones. The craft cans allow me to continue to collect through trades and a minimal amount of money. It also allows to keep up with fellow collectors with new cans coming out every month.
(CC) Do you feel this is inspiring new collectors to get involved in a hobby that may not have a lot of younger participants?
(DS) Unfortunately, I don't see many young collectors coming into the hobby. One would surmise that the craft cans would help drive younger collectors due to thier superior graphics and cheaper costs.
(CC) Are you affiliated with any can collecting clubs or groups? Do you go to can collecting conventions?
(DS) I am a member of the BCCA (Beer Collectibles Club of America) and the Rusty Bunch. I have not been the Canvention and there are no shows in my immediate locale. The Rusty Bunch Forums are the best way for me to stay in touch with fellow collectors.
(CC) How do you acquire new cans for your collection?
(DS) Mostly through my contacts on the Rusty Bunch Forum. Micheal Boardman has been an incredible source for my collection.
(CC) Is there a craft beer can that has a lot of value to collectors?
(DS) So far, i have not seen a big value on craft cans. That is what makes collecting craft cans enjoyable. I have seen the values spike at the introduction of the can and then slide down to the normal $1-$3 range.
(CC) Typically, what brand of beers do you usually drink? Has the craft beer takeoff in recent years had an impact on your choice of beer?
(DS) I am not a big beer drinker. I drink Miller Light (ghast).
(CC) Which craft beer can(s) do you most want to add to your collection?
(DS) I have been finding it incredibly hard to locate a Full Nelson from Virginia. I live one state over and cannot find anybody with a trader.
(CC) What are your thoughts about the possibility that many more craft breweries will be switching to cans in the future?
(DS) I personally like the cans better because they do not break and send people to the hospital for stitches. They are easy to recycle(once again, ghast!) and the graphics are bright and vibrant. They make my shelves jump right off the wall!
(CC) Thanks David! It is my hopes that this site can be a bridge between those that collect beer cans and those that simply enjoy a great beer (and for those of us that fall somewhere between) and can provide useful information for all. Cheers and Viva la Can!
Posted by Russ
Wednesday, September 21st 2010
Is the world ready for Hopolates?
Q & A with Phillip Green
(Founder of Hop Candy Inc.)
Phillip Green is not your average beer lover. Sure he loves craft beer and has done some homebrewing but something about Phillip's love for beer sets him apart. You see, Phillip has done something a few of us out there may have pondered from time to time and made it a reality. He has combined the flavor of hops with the decadence of chocolate and captured the two in a fun beer-related shape that you can shove in your mouth and enjoy! Once I heard about Phillip's company, Hop Candy Inc., I felt compelled to learn more so I wrote to him with some questions...
(CC) Please provide a little background about yourself and your company.
(PG) My name is Phillip Green and I am an advocate of craft beer, good food and I love to travel. I reside in MD just a few minutes away from Flying Dog and Heavy Seas brewing. I started thinking about beer centric candies mid 2009, then began experimenting with hops in different types of food.
(CC) What made you decide to make hop-infused candies? Is any other company doing something similar?
(PG) I have been a chocolate lover since I was young. Some of my most enjoyable memories I have from my childhood, are visiting Hershey Park with my family and grandparents. I have always been interested in making candy, I learned how from my mom. Once I was legal, I discovered the world of craft beer; not that stuff they typically advertise on television. I had become enamored with companies like Dogfish Head, Stone, Goose Island, Founders, Victory, Troegs etc. These companies don’t make any sacrifices when it comes to flavor and quality ingredients. From my first taste of Dogfish 120 IPA, I knew really fell in love with the hop. It didn’t take long before I started looking for beer or hop flavored candies. To my dismay, none existed. I set off on a journey to create hop infused chocolate. I call it Hopolate.
I have searched the web and have not found anyone else making hop infused candies. There are a few companies using beer in pretzels and also cupcakes. I believe I am the first one to make beer or hop flavored chocolates.
(CC) How much R and D went into this? What sort of hops do you use?
(PG) I spent a few months experimenting with multiple varieties of Hop and also several types of Chocolate. I found that Milk Chocolate was the best balance, according to friends, family, bloggers and even professional brewers. I then discovered how well Dark Chocolate brought the hop to the forefront of the candy.
(CC) What is involved in the process of making hops flavored candy?
(PG) Well, I use real hops, not flavorings or extract. The process is part of the ability for me to make the candy and I am looking to patent it. So the details are going to remain my secret. :-)
(CC) Do they really taste like hops? Maybe even a hoppy dark stout or porter?
(PG) Yes, the hops are quite evident. I did have attendants of GABF say things like "reminds me of an imperial stout" and "It's like a chocolaty IPA". So those types of comments confirm my feelings, that I have a fun, unique and tasty product to offer. I have even made some with malt and been able to mimic a pretty good beer flavor.
(CC) Besides Hopolates, what other hops flavored candies do you make?
(PG) I have plans to make a Hop infused lollipop. It will be a hard candy and I plan to call it Lollihop!
(CC) Where would you like to see Hop Candy Inc 5 years from now?
(PG) I have already gotten requests to supply the candy to restaurants and brewpubs, for tastings and pairings. One person even wants to sell it at their brewery's storefront as a novelty item. I would like to become a one stop shop for beer flavored candies, on the web. I have plans to eventually open my own brewpub, so if Hop Candy Inc. takes off, it may very well fund my brewery.
(CC) How can people get their hands on your products?
(PG) Currently I am awaiting the launch of my online store, which will start off offering 2-3 items. For now, you can contact us through the comment section and I can make small quantities as needed.
If you'd like to learn more about Hop Candy Inc. be sure to check out their website:
Posted by Russ
Thursday, September 16th 2010
CANNING in the YUKON:
Q & A w/Yukon Brewing's Bob Baxter
Yukon Brewing Company was the first craft brewery in North America to purchase a canning line from the folks at CASK Brewing Systems. They started canning their beer even before Oskar Blues, something many folks can hardly imagine. Something else that might be hard to imagine is the fact that Yukon Brewing sits above the 60th parallel which has led to their slogan, "Beer Worth Freezin' For!". I wanted to know more about Yukon Brewing Company, their history and the town they call home so I wrote to Owner Bob Baxter. Bob was beyond generous with his time and provided a ton of information in his answers to my questions.
(CC) Can you give us a little bit of the background/history behind yourself and Yukon Brewing?
(BB) Yukon Brewing started making beer in February 1997, initially under the name Chilkoot Brewing. The Chilkoot Pass in the Yukon was the way that most miners came to the Yukon during the 1898 Gold Rush...a famous name here but not so famous outside the Yukon. As a result, we began marketing under name Yukon Brewing Company in 1999, as our exporting became more serious. The company was started by two partners, Alan Hansen and Bob Baxter, but the idea was conceived like so many Yukon babies...around a campfire on a canoe trip. After a painful year or two or trying to raise the money, a brewery was finally born.
(CC) When and why did you decide to give cans a try? What was the first beer you canned and how was it accepted by the local beer drinking population?
(BB) Initially our beers were available in bottles or kegs. That was the way things were expected to remain - cans were not on our mind at all. However, as the company struggled to grow and generate revenue, we began to eye up that large piece of the pie that we were not serving. In the Yukon, about 60% of beer is consumed from a can...we were not playing in that arena, and so we started to look into the possibilities that we could. We found that canning equipment was either ridiculously large and fast, or ridiculously small and slow. The first scenario was not an option, so we bought a two can filler and one head seamer, and put our flagship lager, Chilkoot Lager, into cans in 2001, in a ridiculously small and slow way. Uptake by the public was great, we finally were putting beer out in a container that people preferred.
(CC) What kind of canning line do you use?
(BB) As noted, calling our canning line a 'line' is being a bit kind to it...it is really a canning spot. For 10 years now we have filled cans with a two head filler (made by Cask) and a single head seamer (made by Dixie Seamer). We are currently investigating the options of how we can improve this, hopefully before next spring when the summer beer season gets rolling full steam.
(CC) Which beers do you currently can? Any plans for more in the future?
(BB) For quite some time Chilkoot Lager was the only beer that we put into cans. We had the idea that only a 'mainstream style' lager beer would be appreciated by canned beer drinkers. It finally dawned on us that this might not be the case...perhaps people would drink more flavourful beers from a can. Maybe canned beer need not have a mainstream lighter flavour. So, in June 2005, we put our second product into cans - Yukon Gold, an English Style Pale Ale. Within a couple of years it was selling as much volume as Chilkoot Lager, and we decided that the experiment was a success, and more of our beers belonged in a can. Our limiter was the equipment - how many beers could we have in cans as long as we were filling them and seaming them one at a time? Finally, this past summer, we decided to go whole hog, putting two more beers into cans, Yukon Red and Ice Fog IPA. We did this because we are committed to the purchase and installation of a new canning line this coming winter. We figured that one summer of the slow method with four brands was okay, but not a second summer. No point in growing the market if we cannot serve it.
We currently produce 8 brands of beer in bottles, and 4 of them are now in cans. Will the other 4 eventually be canned? Possibly, or perhaps we will try a brand that launches in cans instead of bottles. Much depends on the equipment that we are going to find this winter.
(CC) Since you put your beers in both cans and bottles how do the two compare as far as sales go?
(BB) As mentioned, two of our four canned products are new this year, so are still on the gradual upslope of finding customers, or having customers find the cans. Even so, to this point in the current year, cans are outselling bottles in our Yukon market about 51% to 49%. We sell bottles in BC and Alberta as well, but no cans there. Of course, once our canning equipment can cope with increased demand, it is possible that our cans will leave the Yukon.
(CC) What is your best selling beer in cans, bottle and draught?
(BB) Our best selling product in cans remains Chilkoot Lager, although Yukon Gold is fast catching up (about 82% caught up). In bottles, Yukon Gold is the top seller, followed by Yukon Red. With the Yukon Red and the relatively new Ice Fog IPA newly in cans, we expect these products to slope up quickly in sales. Yukon Gold is our top selling draught beer - in fact, it is the top selling draught beer in the Yukon, period. More than any Molson product, more than any Labatt product. As an interesting aside, we have such a loyal population base in the Yukon that our draught beers outsell Molson and Labatt draught beers, combined.
(CC) What are the advantages that canned beer presents in the far north? (shipping, packaging, portability?)
(BB) Cans in the north are like most things, a bit of a double edged sword. Before we got into cans we asked customers about why cans outsell bottles 2:1 in the Yukon, thinking perhaps we could overcome some of those with bottles. We were told they were better in the outdoors (which is why we are all up here, after all) since they crush for hauling out, they get cold quicker, they fit in the fridge better, and - in typical Yukon fashion, we were told that a 355 ml can held more beer than a 341 ml bottle, and that adds up. Listening to these answers, we concluded pretty quickly that cans were around for the long term and, if anything, were going to grow. So, from a sales perspective, cans make perfect sense.
(CC) Where do you distribute your beer?
(BB) We distribute bottled beer in the Yukon, BC, Alberta, and the NWT. We distribute draught beer in the Yukon and Alberta. And, we distribute cans only in the Yukon.
(CC) Which of your beers is your favorite? Which canned craft beer would you most like to try?
(BB) The favourite beer that we make is the one in the glass in front of me...really now, I like them all. Sometimes one is preferred over another, given my mood, but I really do like them all. The canned craft beer that I have never tried, but want to, is totally hard to say. There are so many out there, and so many have a great reputation, most of which we can't buy here, that quite frankly (short of seeing my weight climb up and my liver cave in) I would like to try them all, at least once.
(CC) How have Yukoners embraced Yukon Brewing Company and your beers? How about your two new canned offerings?
(BB) Yukoners have totally embraced our beers. As mentioned, we outsell the big boys combined in draught beer. Our market share of bottled beer is nearly 25% and climbing...as we expand our offerings of canned beers, and people have the chance to find them, we totally expect our canned market share to get up there as well.
(CC) If I was in Whitehorse for a weekend what would you tell me to do (after I visited Yukon Brewing Company of course)?
(BB) If you were in Whitehorse for the weekend, after visiting the brewery you would most definitely do something outside. If it was winter, you would downhill ski or snowboard, or cross country ski, or snowmobile, or skate, or ??? If it were summer, you would camp or hike or canoe or fish or ??? After all, none of us are here for the shopping.
Yukon Brewing Company Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, August 31st 2010
A Better Way to Package Cans:
Q & A with PakTech of Oregon
Maybe you've been noticing something a little bit different about the way those cans of craft beer you're buying are being packaged. Gone are the days of those cheap, annoying, unsafe and unreliable plastic ring holders. Today's better beer deserves a better way to get from the brewery to your refrigerator/cooler/mountain stream. PakTech of Eugene, Oregon thought about that as well. We can thank them for introducing those colorful new can "handles" we've been seeing keeping all our great beers safely together.
I wanted to learn a little more about PakTech, and their role in the canned craft beer industry, so I wrote to Amie Thomas, PakTech's Marketing Manager. Amie was quick to respond and full of great information. Cheers Amie!
(CC) Can you give us a little background about PakTech?
(AT) PakTech has been providing packaging carrier handles to the food and beverage industries for over 17 years and growing! We serve every major brand and processor with carrier handles for bulk secondary packaging, and most customer have automated application equipment to apply our handles at their facility. All of our services are under one roof- from handle design, tooling and manufacturing to application design, build and service. This provides optimum quality, flexibility and cost-effectiveness.
(CC) When did PakTech start making six- and four-pack holders for beer?
(AT) We designed our first can carrier about 4 years ago, and the design has gone through several revisions – from fully open top to fully covered. We now have the ideal design, which is almost completely covered, but has ‘vented’ lids to make it easier to manufacture and prevents condensation on the can top. The handles also ‘nest’ together well and allow the product to stack atop one another easily. Maui Brewing was our first larger volume beer can handle customer, and they have been with PakTech since June 2008. Wow- they are growing so well – great beer and great packaging!
(AT) I also wanted to take the opportunity to let you know about our new equipment, which applies our can handles automatically. The CCA600 applicator (pictured above), applies QuadPaks or 6Paks at the rate of 600 cans per minute. Maui Brewing just received their machine (our first in plant) and we are excited to be able to offer automation for our can handles – any speeds from manual up to 2400 cans per minute.
(CC) What are PakTech's carriers made out of?
(AT) All handles are made of HDPE, #2 plastic. This is the most universally recyclable consumer plastic and the ideal material for our injection molding process and products.
(CC) I've noticed they are recyclable, can you give me a little more information about the recycling process?
(AT) Again, #2 plastic is easily recyclable, and we are proud to provide a low-waste 100% recyclable packaging method. All of our ‘scrap’ material in-house (ie, from color changes) gets picked up by Denton Plastics, who reprocesses the material and resells it – to make products such as composite lumber for decking. We are also proud of our clean manufacturing processes, and have been recognized by Denton Plastics and the Oregon Business community (second year to be on the Top 100 Green Oregon Businesses). We are doing our part to be an environmentally-positive packaging provider. I am a very firm believer in recycling and encourage consumers do their part to recycle everything they can – especially their packaging!
(CC) About how many craft brewery clients does PakTech have now?
(AT) Oh my- the list is growing…Although we have had the handles for several years, it seems that the can handles are really growing right now. Plus, now that automated application is developed, we are marketing the heck out of them because we love these handles! (Its hard to sell handles without automated application options) We have about 15 customers who order can handles regularly, and we have dozens of proposals out there. The volumes on most orders are relatively small, and many are doing market tests and such. Ask me next year!
(CC) What are the benefits for breweries using PakTech's can holders?
(AT) Our handles in general provide a simple, low-waste, unique packaging solution, and Im sure this is true for craft brewers as well. Its nice to have an alternative to the standard 6Pack rings and cardboard, which is not ideal in wet or cold environments. Our newest designs also provide 98% more ‘dust/debris’ coverage compared to the standard 6-pack rings. We just completed an independent third party test in order to put a number on it and it was confirmed that the protection is substantial. This is important for consumers who often face nasty tops when they buy their favorite canned beverage – no need to sterilize the tops of cans when they have PakTech handles on them! Plus, OK, they look really good too! Colors are eye-catching…
(CC) Do you see the old six-pack holders becoming obsolete at some point?
(AT) HA- yes! Well, maybe- we like competition- it makes us better. But, yes, we are hoping that craft brewers will revolutionize canned beer packaging and that everyone will need PakTech handles! We certainly believe that our handles and application equipment provide an exceptional alternative.
(CC) I see you are located in Eugene, Oregon, home to many fine beers. What is your favorite Oregon craft beer?
(AT) Ahhh, Oregon is kind of beer heaven…I do love my wine though. OK, I also love Ninkasi’s pale ale – its not canned, but its delicious. What a cool company- they need to be in cans though- their large bottles aren’t very portable….
(CC) Thanks Amie for your time! Cheers!
Posted by Russ
Thursday, August 5th 2010
Alaska's Only Canned Craft Beer
Q & A with Greg Mills, Head Brewer
(Sleeping Lady Brewing Company)
Alaska is well-known for it's rugged beauty, outdoor adventure and great beer. There are more than a few (14 to be exact) craft breweries in the state and no shortage of craft beer drinkers. What is amazing is that only one of those fourteen craft breweries is canning beer and they currently can only one.
That one is Urban Wilderess Pale Ale and it's brewed and hand-canned by the folks at Sleeping Lady Brewing Company in Anchorage. This piqued my interest so I wrote to them to ask a few questions about Urban Wilderness and about canned craft beer in Alaska in general. Greg Mills, Sleeping Lady's Head Brewer, was prompt to respond and I am very thankful to him for taking time out of his busy brewing schedule to do so. Cheers Greg and congratulations on winning a Silver Medal at this year's World Beer Cup for your "Frozen Kriek"!
(CC) When did Sleeping Lady first decide to can Urban Wilderness? Is that the only beer you guys have ever canned?
(GM) I believe the canning operation started 7 years ago. It was here before me, and I have been here 4 years. Urban Wilderness Pale Ale is the only beer that we have ever canned. It was chosen because of the various awards at World Beer Cup and GABF.
World Beer Cup - Silver Medal in 2000 and 2002, Bronze Medal in 2006
(CC) What kind of canning line are you using?
(GM) The system is made by Cask in Calgary. It is manual, fills 2 at a time, has a single seamer, and does six-packs in hi-cone rings.
(CC) Has there ever been another craft beer in cans that was brewed in Alaska?
(GM) This is the first and only canned (craft) beer in Alaska. I have heard talk from other guys who wish to get into canning around here, but we will see.
(CC) How have Alaskans responded to craft beer in cans? Do you think other Alaskan breweries might begin putting their beer in cans?
(GM) Alaskans have responded to cans amazingly well and I believe that there are several reasons for this. There is no glass recycling here, it is light in weight, a local product, and a pretty good beer.
(CC) What is your favorite beer to brew at Sleeping Lady?
(GM) I have no idea what is my favorite beer to brew. I experiment a lot, the Fish On! IPA smells the best while brewing, the Goldrush Golden might be the easiest, and the Bravehart Scottish is a labor of love.
(CC) If a beer lover was to visit Anchorage for the weekend what would you to tell them to do?
(GM) Anchorage (and all of Alaska) is an amazing place. Outdoor adventures are waiting at your doorstep. Also, there are so many beer destinations. The four breweries in town have restaurants and do tours: Midnight Sun Brewing, the Glacier Brewhouse, Moose's Tooth, and me. There will be another brewery opening soon. The Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna. Kassik's, Kenai River, and St. Elias are in the Kenai area. Homer Brewing Company in Homer. Silver Gulch just outside of Fairbanks. And there are many more. For drinking in Anchorage, there is Humpy's Alehouse, Cafe Amsterdam, Taproot Cafe, Firetap, and others.
And, if you ever find yourself in the area, please feel free to visit the brewery. If the music is playing and the lights are on, then I am here.
Posted by Russ
Sunday, July 18th 2010
The Canned Beer Revolution in Europe has Begun!
Bad Attitude is a fitting name for a small craft brewery that defies the mainstream with blatant disregard for what the populous may be thinking. This crew of beer lovers is shaking things up across the pond to say the least. Echoing the successful roots of American canning cousin Oskar Blues, Bad Attitude is challenging both consumers and brewers alike in its native Europe by putting great beer in a shiny aluminum package.
Having just started canning and distributing this year, Bad Attitude is brand new. The beer is currently being brewed and packaged at Birrificio Ticinese, which is located in Stabio, a small Swiss town on the Italian border less than 50 miles north of Milan. It will be distributed in both Switzerland and Italy but by most measures this is an Italian brewing project. Look out Europe, another revolution has begun!
I was able to find out a little more about Bad Attitude from Alessandra Modignani, one of the Bad Attitude crew. She was nice enough to answer my questions (below) about Europe's first true craft beer in cans. Cheers Alessandra!
(CC) What made you decide to can your beers?
(BA) What made us choose beer in cans was the fact that Italian craft breweries are too posh and take themselves too seriously. The Italian craft breweries market their beers as an elegant and expensive product and we wanted to create a whole new concept of craft beer that appeals to young and modern people. Cans are more practical and can be carried to places where glass is forbidden. Furthermore, craft beer in cans has also a very strong environmental quality that makes it cheaper, lighter and more easily recyclable, and contributes to reduce our carbon footprint in many ways.
(CC) Do you think consumers will have any negative reactions to your beer being in cans?
(BA) Our canned beer received a lot of appraisals from beer lovers, other brewers and from the whole craft beer scene. They loved the whole concept of a more portable and eco-friendly beer. There was a bit of skepticism from the so-called “beer experts” that remain fans of the expensive bottled beer.
(CC) Are there any other Swiss or Italian craft breweries canning their beers?
(BA) Nope - we’re the first in both Switzerland and Italy.
(CC) Which of your beers are you canning?
(BA) Bad Attitude so far cans all of its beer. Right now we are canning Bootlegger, a California common beer with spices; Hobo, a tasty and aromatic IPA; TwoPenny, a porter; and finally Hipster, our newest arrival which is our first organic beer.
(CC) Where is your beer being sold?
(BA) Our aim is to be “indie” also when selling our beers. We want to avoid the big faceless wholesalers and try to sell our beer to beershops, beer lovers, bars and pubs that share our passion and also through our webshop.
(CC) Do you think Europe is ready for great beer in cans or will it take some time?
(BA) We think that Europe is ready for canned beers. Only the beer “dinosaurs” will have trouble accepting it at first - but they’ll overcome their prejudice quite soon.
VIVA LA CAN!!!
Bad Attitude Craft Beer Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Thursday, June 24th 2010
Q & A with Rick Fredland
(CEO/President of Silipints)
An enterprising company in Oregon has come up with a product that could be the solution to a dilemma many of us have been encountering for some time. What to do when you're out in the woods or at a music festival that doesn't allow glass and you want to pour that can of beer into something before enjoying it? If you've brought along a Silipint, a pint sized cup made from silicone, you should be all set!
I contacted the folks at Silipint to try and learn more about their product and Rick Fredland, the company's President and CEO, was gracious enough to answer all of my questions. Cheers Rick! All the best to you and your company in the future!
(CC) How was the idea of the Silipint born?
(CC) Since you guys are in Bend, Oregon people must be loving Silipints since they can take them into the outdoors! How has the community embraced your product?
(CC) What is something that people may not know about Silipints?
(RF) Many people ask what makes Silipints “better” than traditional pints glasses. My first comment to people is that it is still a glass, it just happens to be something that adds to the functionality of being very difficult to break, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, food grade, non-porous and BPA free. Not to mention the lack of clean up from broken glasses, the injuries from broken glass (see England, pint glass injuries) and their travel-ability.
The Silipints new website should be up and running sometime in the next week so be sure to check it out!
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, June 21 2010
Q & A with Luke Livingston
(Baxter Brewing Company)
Just a few weeks ago Luke Livingston drove a shovel into the ground outside an old mill building in the town of Lewiston, Maine. With this almighty gesture, albeit a symbolic one, the future home of Baxter Brewing Company was officially made public and Maine's only canning craft brewery was one step closer to opening for business. Luke was kind enough to answer a few questions for us during a time in his life in which he is ridiculously busy and for that we are very thankful. Cheers Luke! I am looking forward to cracking open a can or two of your beer in just few months!
(CC) Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to college and what are your other beer-related hobbies?
(LL) I grew up in the town of Auburn, Maine (Lewiston’s twin-city) where I moved from Washington D.C. at the age of seven. After graduating from Edward Little H.S. in Auburn, I spent my freshman year of college at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA and the next three years at Clark University in Worcester, MA where I received my BA with a double-major in communications and film. My other beer-related hobbies, besides drinking as many different craft beers as I can get my hands (and my wallet) on, would be yes, some homebrewing (my brother bought me my first homebrew kit for my 21st birthday) and I actually launched and wrote BlogAboutBeer.com in August of 2007, which I’m in the process of selling right now. But that’s sort of how I fell backwards into the beer industry.
(CC) What made you want to open your own brewery and why in Lewiston, Maine?
(LL) Why did I want to open a brewery? I think it’s every homebrewer and every craft beer fan’s dream to open their own brewery. The way it happened for me – I left my job in college admissions here in Maine last spring after my mother passed away and I had one of those “life’s too short” sort of moments. And through the blog, I started to learn about the canned craft beer movement gaining momentum in Colorado and California and realized the void of canned craft bee in Maine and was able to pounce on the niche. It’s taken a little more than a year of very careful planning, capital raising and hiring but now everything is coming together and we should be in production early this fall.
The reasons I chose to open the brewery in Lewiston are many: first, as a community, Lewiston-Auburn is within an hour’s drive of something like 60% of the state’s population, so it’s easily accessible; it feels good to be able to give back to the community I grew up in; I had a number of built-in business contacts in the area (our accountant was my Dad’s first employer when we moved to Maine, our attorney served on the city council with my father for years and remains one of his best friends; I’ve known our landlord since we moved to Maine and he served on many Boards of Directors with both of my parents, etc.); and probably most importantly, if we were to have located Baxter Brewing Co. in Portland (Maine’s largest city), for instance, we would be just another face in the crowd, where there are already half-a-dozen production breweries. But here in “L/A”, we’re the only ones – we’re a big fish in a small pond.
(CC) Baxter will initially be canning two of their beers. What are those beers and what other brews might we look forward to?
(LL) Our first two beers will be Stowaway IPA – a heavily-hopped, West Coast-style IPA, very unique to the state of Maine – and Pamola Xtra Pale Ale; a very easy-drinking “session” beer, with subtle hop presence and a complex but light malt character. It’ll be a great “lawn mower” beer, great for the backpack on a long hike.
We do have plans for plenty more in the future – year-round beers, seasonal releases and special one-off and keg-only recipes. We haven’t made any definite decisions on the future styles yet – we’re concentrating on getting the first two out the door ASAP – but I can tell you that we’re going to try and incorporate as many different Maine-grown ingredients as possible and the idea for Maine berries, maple syrup, Fresh Maine-grown hops, and even Allen’s Coffee Brandy has been thrown around. So stay tuned!
(CC) If you could do a one-off limited release extra special beer what might it be?
(LL) Oh I can’t answer that – I don’t want to spoil the surprise!
(CC) Where will people be able to find Baxter's beers?
(LL) The plan is to distribute our beer throughout the State of Maine from our first release in October of this year through the end of 2010 and then begin to expand into the rest of New England – first Massachusetts and then New Hampshire and Vermont – early in 2011. After that, well the sky’s the limit. I hope. Our beer will be available both from a retail point of sale (all in cans) and on draught in bars and restaurants around the state. We’ll also have beer for sale at the brewery itself (along with plenty of other apparel and schwag) and are exploring the possibility of filling full kegs and 5L “party kegs” for sale at the brewery, too.
(CC) Tell us something we might not know about Baxter Brewing Company?
(LL) The “moose with wings” in our logo is actually the creature Pamola (also the namesake of our Xtra Pale Ale); an Abanaki legend of a creature who was the guard of Katahdin, the God of Thunder and the bringer of cold weather. According to legend, Pamola had the head of a moose, the body of a human and the wings and talons of an eagle.
Baxter Brewing Company Media Resources
Posted by Russ
Saturday, June 12th 2010
Q & A with Jamie Gordon
(Cask Brewing Systems)
Ever had a can of Dale's Pale Ale? What about a Surly Bender or a Caldera IPA? Tell you what, name any craft beer you've ever had in a can and I bet you that Jamie Gordon, and the company he works for, have had something to do with it.
Jamie is a Technical Sales Representative with Cask Brewing Systems, based in Calgary, Alberta. These are the guys that design, build and set-up the canning systems/lines that put all your favorite craft beers in those nice, neat little aluminum packages.
It wasn't that long ago that the idea of a small canning line would have been laughed at (quite loudly) but my how things have changed. Nowadays business is booming and Jamie is a super busy guy.
He is currently helping the folks at Milwaukee Brewing Company set up their new canning line, which they'll be using to put two of their brews into 16 oz. cans. He was nice enough to take some time to answer a few questions of mine. Thanks so much Jamie! I know you are very busy so I really appreciate it.
Here we go...
(CC) Briefly tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been with Cask Brewing Systems.
(JG) I’ve been with Cask Brewing Systems for over 25 years and got my start in the brewing business as a homebrewer and then a homebrew supply shop owner in Montreal which I opened in 1983.
(CC) How many US/Canadian craft breweries to date has Cask Brewing Systems supplied canning equipment to?
(JG) I’ve lost track of the total. (CraftCans - we'll say around 100 - or pretty much ALL of them!)
(CC) You told me before that an absolutely astounding 96% of all craft breweries canning their beer do so with Cask Brewing Systems equipment. That is an incredible percentage. To what do you guys attribute this? Who is your "competition"?
(JG) Basically nobody ever thought about building “micro” sized canning machines until we stumbled on the idea back in 2000. At the time we were building them to solve another problem: the horrendous packaging issues that our BOP (U-Brew) customers were suffering through. Their shelf life sucked and it was directly attributable to the fact that their customers were responsible for washing and reusing their bottles. So we though the best way to eliminate the problem was to use a single use disposable package. After we sold about 70 of those manual systems to BOP’s we started getting calls from small breweries and that’s when it hit us: maybe there was a market for this in the craft brewing industry.
Our only competition at the moment tends to come from the European or Chinese manufacturers of much larger systems. Nobody builds units as compact as ours and at a cost that suits the 500 bbl to 50,000 bbl breweries.
(CC) Who was your very first client and when was that? Whose been your most recent client(s)?
(JG) Our first customers were Canadian BOP’s (Brew on Premise) – our first craft brewery customer was Yukon Brewing way up in northern Canada. Our first U.S. customer was Oskar Blues' in Lyons (Colorado) – and we all know how well Dale did with that...
(CC) I seem to read a lot about the initial costs for brewers wanting to invest in canning equipment and that it can be a deterrent for small breweries. Is that true? Can we expect the costs to go down in the future?
(JG) Our manual systems are $15,000 – our automated lines start at $81,500. So even 500 bbl breweries can afford to get started with a table top manual unit.
(CC) What do you see as the most positive benefits of putting beer in cans over bottles?
(JG) Depends on your perspective: from the environmentalists point of view it’s the shipping weight of the finished product (almost half of what it is in glass bottles) and the infinite recyclability. From the brewer’s point of view it’s the protection of the flavour of his product until it arrives in the hand of his customer – total UV light protection, impermeability, low air, etc... from the customers point of view it’s just the convenience: I can take a good craft beer anywhere I go now without having to worry about breakage.
(CC) As craft beer drinkers are becoming more widely accepting of good beer in cans where might this "trend" take us?
(JG) SO far we’ve only seen the 12 and 16 oz (and a few 500 ml European) can formats used by craft breweries. I think we are going to start to see other formats (8 oz for special high alcohol barrel aged products, 24 oz...) used over the next year...who knows...maybe even some newer formats altogether.
So, the next time you are enjoying a can of craft beer be sure to think of Jamie and the folks at Cask Brewing Systems. If it wasn't for them, and their risky step into uncharted territory, the canned beer revolution would likely not be taking place!
For more information about Cask Brewing Systems you can go to CASK.COM
Posted by Russ
Friday, April 9th 2010
Canned Q & A with 7 Seas Brewing
In an effort to reach out and touch base with those craft breweries out there canning their brews, we've decided to do a little Q & A to see what makes them do what they do. In our first round we had the original canned craft beer brewery (Oskar Blues) - in this one we turn to one of the newest.
CCC - 7 Seas is the first craft brewery in the great beer state of Washington to sell their beer in cans. What made you decide to can, not bottle, your beers?
Thanks goes out to Travis at 7 Seas Brewing for taking the time for our Q & A. Cheers!
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, April 6th 2010
Canned Q & A with Oskar Blues
In an effort to reach out and touch base with those craft breweries out there canning their brews, we've decided to do a little Q & A to see what makes them do what they do. When you think craft beer in cans you probably think of these guys. It seemed only fitting to go to them first!
Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
Location: Lyons, Colorado and Longmont, Colorado
Background: Oskar Blues has been canning their beers since 2002. Many look to them as the frontrunners when it comes to craft beer in cans and for good reason. They've been pioneers for sure.
CCC - Which of your beers do you currently can?
- All of them, no glass, no way, no how.
Dale’s Pale Ale, One Hoppy Mutha of a Pale Ale - 1st craft beer in a can.
Mama’s Little Yella Pils, take two & call us in the morning
GORDON, Big Red & Sticky.
Old Chub Scotch Ale, A Virtual Malt Planetoid.
Ten FIDY Imperial Stout, Cross-eyed, Cyclopean, , Cancupiscent Behemoth of a stout.
GUBNA, Disestablishmentarian….Hop Grenade in a can.
CCC - Your new Imperial IPA is called GUBNA! Where did the name come from?
- In Birmingham they love the GUBNA
CCC - Many people look at Oskar Blues as the brewery that started the whole canned beer revolution. How does that make you feel?
- Like we punched the status quo in the eye to get their attention….then nurtured them back to health with medicinally gifted & complex craft beer in a can.
CCC - What is something that people may not know about Oskar Blues?
- Our participation in the community driven program www.imaginecolorado.org provides a stable work environment for many people of all ages with developmental delays and cognitive disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and mental retardation. They are part of our brewery staff & create & supply CAN BLING (Beer Can Mardi Gras necklaces) to all beer festival goers coast-to-coast.
CCC - Can we expect to see some new Oskar Blues offerings in the future?
- Although we regularly generate 1.21 gigawatts of power & travel over 88 miles per hour our Flux Capacitor is currently broken so we won’t be going back to the future until we get it fixed. That being said, we’ll keep challenging what people expect out of a canned beer….so yes, in the future. Here are some of the things we’ve been working on over the past few years: www.oskarblues.com/the-brews/beers-on-tap
Thanks goes out to Chad at Oskar Blues for taking the time for our Q & A. Cheers!
Posted by Russ