Monthly Archives: January 2015

I Can, You Can, We Can

By | Beer, Canning | No Comments
Last week’s blog focused on the canned beer revolution that is taking over the craft beer market and in this writer’s humble opinion, is a very good thing. What I would like to hone in on this week are two recent advents that are taking place in the craft beer and hard cider industry that are moving the canned revolution along to breakneck speed. Those two things are a.) Mobile Canning and b.) printed shrink sleeved cans.

Today many craft breweries – in hopes of expansion and additional revenue streams – have begun distributing their products to be sold in retail stores. Many have turned to bottling their beers. But canning is coming along quickly. And if Andrew McLean and Scott Richards have anything to say about it, canned beer couldn’t overtake bottles soon enough.

McLean and Richards are the proud co-owners of Michigan Mobile Canning. What is Mobile Canning, you may ask? Well I’m glad you did. Mobile Canning involves two people, a box-truck and a canning line that can be wheeled into said box-truck, out of said box-truck and into any micro-brewery who perhaps doesn’t have the floor-space and/or capital investment to justify purchasing a canning line of their own. No problem, says Michigan Mobile Canning – they drive from micro-brewery to micro-brewery, in their box truck with the canning line in the back and are able to set-up the line, tap into the fresh batch of brewed beer and can to order. Some runs may only consist of a hundred or so cases of cans (24 cans/case). Other runs may be for as many as 25,000 to 30,000 cans at a time. As long as the beer is cold (which helps the lines to flow that much better), Scott and Andrew have the process of canning beer down to a science.

In fact they are growing so fast in the states of Michigan and Indiana that a second box-truck and beer canning line are in the plans for early 2015. Michigan Mobile Canning (MMC) is fielding calls from breweries that they never would have expected to hear from before. To that point, I had the chance to go meet Andrew and Chris – who also works for MMC – at Millking it Productions brewery in Royal Oak, MI. I walked into the production brewery as the canning line was chugging away, filling cans with beer, placing a lid onto the can, seaming the lid to the can and then sent down the conveyor to a packaging line where Kristy Smith was capping the cans into 4-packs and then packing into carton cases. Kristy is the owner and President of Millking it Productions (or MIP) and after finally saying enough was enough with her previous canning line (which she owned and ran on-site), she called up Michigan Mobile Canning and had them come in and can 3 different brands of her beers (AXL, SNO and BRIK – all great beers by the way). I watched as she shook her head in disbelief at the speeds with which the mobile canning line was able to produce final product.   Another satisfied customer…


And so after 2 days at MIP and several cases of canned, cold, craft beer on its way to various retailers across Metro Detroit, the guys from Michigan Mobile Canning packed the line back into the truck and drove off to their next stop in Michigan City, Indiana. It’s been a banner year for MMC and 2015 is looking to be even better.

And if Mossberg & Co. and this article’s author have anything to say about it, 2015 will be the year that printed sleeved cans of beer take over the craft brewing industry. You may have read last week’s article on Mossberg’s website and wondered: why is a printing company blogging about beer? Well two reasons:

1. Beer is awesome – for that reason alone, I probably don’t even need to give a second reason, but since the rest of my article hinges on this next point…

2. Mossberg & Co. – already an expert printer of labels and packaging (amongst other proficiencies) – has invested in print and finishing equipment that will further aid the cause of canned craft beer that will lower the cost of entry for any brewer to get in the game of beer distribution by utilizing printed sleeved cans.

So let’s talk beer shrink sleeves. What are they? Why are they pertinent to this discussion? What is so special about them that we can make claims to change the micro-brewing industry?

Let’s first review traditional cans of beer. Most canned beer that you see in stores are all printed directly onto the can itself. Any craft brewer that wanted to can their beer would have to commit to purchasing a full truckload of cans (which equates to roughly 100,000 cans in the 16 oz. size) and then have to figure out where to store all those pallets of empty cans until they could be filled and shipped out. That’s not a problem for the big-boy breweries that mass produce beer. But fitting even 50,000 cans in a micro-brewery location that perhaps is already squeezed for square-footage can be a problem. Not to mention that they have had to pay upfront for 100,000 printed cans that they may really only need to fill 7,000 – 10,000 cans per production of that particular beer (depending on the size of their brewing barrel system). Having cash-flow tied up in 90,000 cans that would be used over the course of a year as opposed to only ordering what is needed for each production was a hurdle that micro-breweries previously had no way of getting around.

Well enter the advent of printed shrink-sleeved cans. Mossberg & Co. with our new Mossberg Beverage Marketing initiative has invested in a new HP digital roll-fed printing press that can produce printed rolls of shrink film in made-to-order quantities. Combine that with equipment that will convert those rolls into tubes which can then be dropped and cut – one at a time – onto a blank silver can and then sent down a conveyor line through a heat-tunnel that will shrink the film to size on the can, and you now have a solution for made-to-order beer cans. These investments were a sensible choice for Mossberg since they already operate FDA-approved print and fulfillment facilities and have the quality procedures in place to pursue this growing beverage market.

With the new HP press already on our floor and the rest of the equipment soon to land in early 2015, Mossberg will be positioned to offer any micro-brewery and/or beverage company a short-run to medium-run solution for getting beer into cans and with graphics that the traditional printed can guys can only dream of. Check out our very first sample can that will give you some idea of what kind of quality our sleeved cans will have:

cans2If you are a production brewery that currently cans some of your brands, but haven’t had enough demand to merit buying a full truckload of printed cans at a time for other brands of beer or would just like to produce a smaller seasonal batch of canned beer – Mossberg’s printed sleeved cans are an ideal fit for you.

If you are a micro-brewery or hard cider(y?) or other beverage company and have a barrel brewing system that can yield anywhere from 2,000 to 30,000 cans at a time – Mossberg’s printed shrink sleeves are an ideal fit for you too.

We see 2015 as the year in which companies like Michigan Mobile Canning & Mossberg Beverage Marketing further the advance in the CAN-volution!

Cheers everybody!

Canned Craft Beer: The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread and, well, um…you know

By | Canning, Craft Beer | No Comments

Calling all beer snobs! Calling ALL BEER SNOBS! It’s time you all caught on to a little secret that many of us recovering beer snobs have only recently discovered ourselves: beer in a can is in many ways SUPERIOR to bottled beer. There I said it. Now let the haters start hating…well actually hold off on the hating for a few minutes more. Hear me out first, then go try some canned craft beer, then write up your apology letter about how you had 5 smug, rage-filled, vile-incensed Tweets on the ready but then had to pull them back in because you just discovered that what I speak is truth.

There is a revolution brewing (yeah get ready for more puns like these – you have been warned) in the craft beer industry and opinions are being reshaped as more brewers decide to package their beers in cans instead of bottles. In fact I was fortunate enough to attend the CANvitational beer festival hosted by Sun King Brewery in downtown Indianapolis in September and stood witness to the rows and rows of craft brewers who have decided that cans suit them just fine.

Which begets the obvious question: why? Why cans instead of bottles? Well let’s explore.

Yeah I know I misspelled that word. I told you to brace yourself for more beer puns. Weren’t you listening?

Cans are portable. So what? Ever been out walking on a beach and stepped on a piece of glass? More than likely it was because somebody was drinking some cold ones on the beach and uh-oh, the glass bottle broke somehow. Well if those cold ones were served in cans instead of bottles…no more ow-ies from glass bottles to worry about anymore.

Anybody like to drink beer while playing a round of afternoon golf? So much easier to tote around canned beer instead of bottles out on the course, right? And again, we eliminate the hazard of broken glass. Same goes for camping, boating (passengers, not driver), or any other outdoor entertaining that involves an appropriate time to enjoy a good beer.

Do you think vendors at ball-games like to carry a case of bottled beers around instead of those light aluminum cans? Nope, cans win again at these venues because they are portable (there, I spelled it right for you this time).

Let’s play a quick imagine this scenario. Imagine this: you are a cash-strapped start-up entrepreneur who is ultra-confident in your product and have done your homework to know that there is a market ready and willing to buy your product. That said, you don’t have much – if any – control over how much your product can be sold for (and will likely have to go through 2 layers of distributors then retailers who each take their healthy cut of the price before your product is made available to consumers). But by simply packaging your product somewhat differently, you can save substantial money on production costs as well as shipping costs. You’d be silly not to take advantage of this cost-savings as long as it a.) doesn’t negatively affect the quality of your product and b.) doesn’t have a negative impact on your overall sales potential.

This is what cans do for craft beer. It lowers the overall cost of packaging and shipping, while still maintaining visibility on the shelf. And it does not harm the overall quality of the beer. In fact…

REASON #3: Beer maintains its quality BETTER and LONGER when packed in CANS

What are the elements that have a negative impact on the quality of beer? Light and air. With beer tightly enclosed inside of an aluminum can, there is no light penetration – as opposed to bottles. Some people wonder why beer is packaged typically in brown or green bottles. That is because light has a harder time penetrating through those bottles as opposed to clear. But light does still penetrate the bottles. Not so in aluminum. The seal of beer cans is also a much tighter, longer-lasting seal than that of caps on bottles. Who wants to drink a flat beer that’s lost its carbonation? That’s not a concern when the beer is packed into cans.

“But Lu,” you may interject, “my beer-snob, hipster lips might fall off if I drink directly from an aluminum can.”

My retort is simple: do you drink beer directly from the bottle? Personally, I don’t. So much of really getting the full taste of a beer involves drinking it out of the proper receptacle. So, depending on what type of beer I am drinking, I will typically pour from glass bottle (or can) into a pint glass or pilsner or snifter. I think of it this way: if I were to drink this beer at the brewery that it was made in, what glass would they serve it to me in? You get all those great aromatics and hoppy essence that comes with craft beer when you drink it out of the proper container. So I declare the aluminum can taste argument a non-sequitur. If this is your argument, you are already drinking beer the wrong way anyway…and you call yourself a beer snob!

Now if you find yourself outdoors at one of the places I described above (camping, golfing, boating, beaching, etc.), you can always pour beer from the can into a Red Solo Cup and problem solved again. Of course, at that point, I’m more than happy to drink directly from the can and have no issues with it – it’s less waste and I’m just happy to have great craft beer at any of those venues as opposed to the alternatives.

Longevity is the other side of the equation here, where cans are again the superior vehicle. Now I’m not one of those people that generally stores beer for long periods of time. Wine bottles are a different story. But if I buy beer, generally it is going to be consumed within a week or two of purchasing. However, if I wanted to buy and store beer for a special occasion or just because somebody happened to have a particularly great deal on my favorite brand, I know that I would be much more inclined to stock up on cans instead of bottles. Over time, bottles will result in skunky beer if they are not drunk within a certain amount of time. Air gets in, light gets in and the end result is wasted beer…i.e. alcohol abuse. That is not the case with cans. Beer stays much fresher for longer periods of time as light and air do not penetrate the bubbly goodness and so its quality remains intact.

In conclusion: it is time that we beer snobs – either those of us in recovery, or those of us that are still current snobs – come to the proper conclusion that canned craft beer is not only every bit as good as bottled craft beer, but in many ways superior to it. I didn’t make the environmental eco-argument for or against either because there are too many good arguments on both sides, so we’ll call that one a draw. If you’ve hesitated to get in on this movement towards craft cans, now is as good a time as ever to jump in and give it a try. Might I suggest a Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout or a Brewery Vivant Triomphe for my Michigan readers or perhaps an Upland Brewing Wheat Ale or Evil Czech GG Patton Pilsner for my Indiana pals. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that you love.

Next week, in Part 2 of this series, we will look at the Mobile canning and shrink-sleeved cans contributions to the Can-volution that is taking place and explain how and why more options of great canned craft beer will be hitting store shelves near you soon. Cheers everybody!

For our friends who are actually making the beer – Mossberg is now able to create on-demand shrink sleeves for you at a low price in quantities for small or large batches. We’ll talk about this in much greater detail in next week’s follow-up. Same bat-time, same bat-channel.

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