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Wednesday, November 2nd 2011

Q & A: Pat Hartman and Ron Popma from Mobile Canning, LLC

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.

We’re happy to announce that Crabtree Brewing Company in Greeley Colorado will be utilizing Mobile Canning’s services.  Crabtree just won two medals at the Great American Beer Festival this year.  Their Oatmeal Stout won a Silver medal and their Berliner Weisse Ale earned Gold.  We will be canning their Syzygy Black IPA in 16 oz. tall boys which was aged in wine barrels and took Gold at the Colorado state fair this year.  Look for it in stores on 11/22/11.

(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.

Colorado is not only home to two pioneers in the craft beer industry, Boulder Beer Company and Wynkoop Brewing Company and over 100 registered breweries and counting, but also home to an incredible amount of outdoor enthusiasts.  These climbers, bikers, skiers, kayakers, hikers, and many other outdoor activity addicts make up a large portion of craft beer drinking community.  Colorado also hosts over 300 days of sun, so people are outside a lot and outside in places that don’t always allow bottles like the park and golf courses. 

(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.

(CC) Thanks Pat and Ron! For more information about Mobile Canning you can visit their website at: www.mobilecanning.com or find them on Facebook here!

Posted by Kelly