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Thread: Canning impacts

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Brunswick, Maine
    Posts
    4

    Canning impacts

    Hey all,
    New brewery here looking to hear some of your stories and advice about starting to can. My series of questions is about when ya'll decided to can. What factors or indicators did you look at when trying to decide your next action? What pushed you towards your choice of package? Once you started canning, what were the (intended and unintended) impacts on your brewery?

    A little about us. We opened in February of this year and have since been doing much better than we anticipated. We have a 7 bbl system, 4 FV's and 2 BT's as well as a small half-barrel pilot system. Our building is 4500 sq ft with a tasting room that takes up about a quarter of that space (and a nice outdoor patio for three seasons of outdoor seating). Currently, we are on pace to push about 300 bbl out of our tasting room and maybe 10-15 bbl of distribution. We do small packaging runs using a DIY bottle filler, which has been received well, but not so well that we are beating back the masses to preserve inventory or are ever really in danger of selling out. I am the sole brewer at the moment, brewing 2-3 times a week in addition to my other duties as an owner. It would be great to hear your experiences deciding whether or not to package and what factors led you to that decision. I would be especially delighted to hear from those of you who are in a similar situation to ours.
    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Posts
    13

    www.microcanner.com

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayward View Post
    Hey all,
    New brewery here looking to hear some of your stories and advice about starting to can. My series of questions is about when ya'll decided to can. What factors or indicators did you look at when trying to decide your next action? What pushed you towards your choice of package? Once you started canning, what were the (intended and unintended) impacts on your brewery?

    A little about us. We opened in February of this year and have since been doing much better than we anticipated. We have a 7 bbl system, 4 FV's and 2 BT's as well as a small half-barrel pilot system. Our building is 4500 sq ft with a tasting room that takes up about a quarter of that space (and a nice outdoor patio for three seasons of outdoor seating). Currently, we are on pace to push about 300 bbl out of our tasting room and maybe 10-15 bbl of distribution. We do small packaging runs using a DIY bottle filler, which has been received well, but not so well that we are beating back the masses to preserve inventory or are ever really in danger of selling out. I am the sole brewer at the moment, brewing 2-3 times a week in addition to my other duties as an owner. It would be great to hear your experiences deciding whether or not to package and what factors led you to that decision. I would be especially delighted to hear from those of you who are in a similar situation to ours.
    Cheers!
    No one beats microcanner for simplicity, durability, features and price. MADE IN MICHIGAN. We do not import from China. China sucks.

    send and email and i will quote:

    sales@microcanner.com

    www.microcanner.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    579
    Packaging is not something to be taken lightly. There are a myriad of things that can spoil the beer. Oxygen, contamination, bad crowns, bad seams, fillers loosing parts into the beer. Most of these things can be minimized, but it costs money. You should be testing all of the filling heads on each run for package oxygen, this is at a minimum of $10k just to get the equipment for that. There is also waste, many of the machines have increased foaming, or inconsistent fill levels. We don't yet package for these reasons, if it is to be done, it should be done right and that means a good filler, a good lab, and good process control. I'm sure others will chime in and say you don't need to test package oxygen or spend the money on a good filler, but I would ask them how much loss do they have, what is their shelf life? On a dry shelf and on a refrigerated one. How many times have they gotten a bad review because of a bad bottle sold somewhere else? These are all things to look at. I've heard this before as well, "all beer changes in the bottle, its just a fact", thats a cop out, you should strive to have the experience be the same on draft and in package, this has to be controlled by how you bottle, what you bottle, and how long you let it sit on a shelf before you take it back.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Brunswick, Maine
    Posts
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by jebzter View Post
    Packaging is not something to be taken lightly. There are a myriad of things that can spoil the beer. Oxygen, contamination, bad crowns, bad seams, fillers loosing parts into the beer. Most of these things can be minimized, but it costs money. You should be testing all of the filling heads on each run for package oxygen, this is at a minimum of $10k just to get the equipment for that. There is also waste, many of the machines have increased foaming, or inconsistent fill levels. We don't yet package for these reasons, if it is to be done, it should be done right and that means a good filler, a good lab, and good process control. I'm sure others will chime in and say you don't need to test package oxygen or spend the money on a good filler, but I would ask them how much loss do they have, what is their shelf life? On a dry shelf and on a refrigerated one. How many times have they gotten a bad review because of a bad bottle sold somewhere else? These are all things to look at. I've heard this before as well, "all beer changes in the bottle, its just a fact", thats a cop out, you should strive to have the experience be the same on draft and in package, this has to be controlled by how you bottle, what you bottle, and how long you let it sit on a shelf before you take it back.
    Thanks for the response and I totally agree, I would not release a product that I cannot get behind 100%. At this moment we are not looking to distribute bottles, just an in-house sale so we have a lot of control over how it is stored. If you don't mind my asking, how much does your brewery produce per year?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Posts
    13
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayward View Post
    Thanks for the response and I totally agree, I would not release a product that I cannot get behind 100%. At this moment we are not looking to distribute bottles, just an in-house sale so we have a lot of control over how it is stored. If you don't mind my asking, how much does your brewery produce per year?
    I agree with wayward. You want to shoot for a DO level below the mid 20s with little or no waste at the fill.

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    579
    Were going to be north of 2000bbl this year off of a 10bbl brewhouse. The biggest thing for us is the ROI on bottling. In order to do it right, we need to be producing at a level near 5000bbl to have a reasonable payoff on the money we spend to properly package the beer. In order to get the ROI we need to move a lot of beer in bottles, and that is a big job working with supermarkets and convenience stores. We couldn't sell enough over the counter at the brewery for that.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    921
    For your size I would look at buying a Crowler Filler, and purge the cans with co2 prior to filling. Several breweries in town opened with 15 bbl systems and started with one. Your system is under sized to really think about, and make money with canning or bottling anything other than maybe 750ml special releases. A mobile canner will eat your profit for breakfast. We found running 800 12 oznr cases once a week was the breaking point. The money you spend on the mobile canner equalled a payment on our own canning line. I am completely sold on canning. I no longer have to keep inventory on Crowns, bottles, body labels, neck labels, 4 pks, 6 pks, mother cartons. These items must be bought in bulk and all have a long lead time. We save at least $50000 in inventory sitting around.
    Joel Halbleib
    COO / Zymurgist
    Goodwood Brewing Co
    636 East Main St
    Louisville, KY
    goodwood.beer

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    11
    I think BrewinLou has excellent advice. With only 28 bbls of total fermenter capacity you should absolutely just buy a Crowler machine. Canning lines are very expensive. We pre-fill Crowlers every morning and have maxed out our pub at about 1000 bbls with a 7 bbl brewhouse selling mostly everything over the counter. The Crowler machine was the best investment we ever made.

    Andy

    Quote Originally Posted by BrewinLou View Post
    For your size I would look at buying a Crowler Filler, and purge the cans with co2 prior to filling. Several breweries in town opened with 15 bbl systems and started with one. Your system is under sized to really think about, and make money with canning or bottling anything other than maybe 750ml special releases. A mobile canner will eat your profit for breakfast. We found running 800 12 oznr cases once a week was the breaking point. The money you spend on the mobile canner equalled a payment on our own canning line. I am completely sold on canning. I no longer have to keep inventory on Crowns, bottles, body labels, neck labels, 4 pks, 6 pks, mother cartons. These items must be bought in bulk and all have a long lead time. We save at least $50000 in inventory sitting around.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    384
    Quote Originally Posted by Lidman View Post
    Jebzter is spot on. You put all your money, energy, and time into building a brand and many folks go with the cheapest packaging solution. Some work fairly well if properly maintained, but yield loss is significant on all the inline type fillers.

    Do a yield loss study; you'd be surprised how much money is going down the drain. Yield savings can make a significant impact on your bottom line.
    Yield can be obtained in many ways throughout the process. Packaging is a huge part, but BH efficiency (mash, kettle evap, knockout volume), fermenter yield (yeast volume, trub out losses) and possibly filtration will all have just as much or more if your packaging is operating properly.

    Know the Wild Goose fairly well and have been able to get great yields from it. Saw about 2.5 cases of low fills max out of a run of 500-600. That's like 0.5% which was plenty acceptable for me on the can side. Would see less than that on startup/shutdown losses, maybe 10 liters max. The key is understanding how to dial in the machine properly. When I came on board we saved over 3bbl per run right off the top, 5%, that is significant! (60bbl brites)

    Oxygen is a huge factor, and I chose to take a small hit on yield in order to chase better TPO numbers. Would overfill cans to about 372-378 gm (cans at about 14 gm, beer at about 360 gm per 355 ml @ 1.012 FG). I would loose about 1 can every 4 cases to overfill, or about 6 cases over a 600 case run. One percent. Coupled with startup/shutdown and low fill, losses came right to 1.75% on the high side. Could have reduced that in half, but TPO numbers seemed to go higher when doing so. 1.5% was my goal and was almost always attainable. That's less than a barrel per 60BBL of beer. TPO was around 50ppb average with dry hopped beers coming in slightly higher. Mobile canners are often paid by the case, so their priorities may not be in line with yours.

    IMHO it is not a cop out to say all beer changes in package. It is a fact. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't strive for the best possible product, and best stability though. The cop out is accepting lower thresholds to increase yield or purchasing cheaper tools to turn a quick buck. I agree completely that most do not truly plan out the packaging process.

    To the point of the OP - I would not suggest canning with your current capacity. I have been through this before with cans that became very popular. Vendors will get upset when you cant meet demand, and you will be forced to grow at an accelerated rate. Contracting brings its own headaches. Organic growth is the most sustainable and the stress of growing will be enough that way. Offer growlers (if you can). Maybe the crowler (although I never purchase any). Wait for canning/bottling until you have enough product capacity to meet a growing demand for your area. Do like BrewingLou suggests and bottle some specials in 750's. Maximize your profit to labor ratio. Push outside draft sales, that way when you have the capacity to package your name exposure is already high. Much easier to pull in a customer who recognizes your brand.

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