Piney River Brewing Company

What’s in a can? Not just any can…craft beer in a can.

In Start up on October 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm

If you would have been in the BARn at Piney River Brewing Company today you would have seen the brewer and his wife passing fittings and tools back and forth to each other, putting in lines to run the air compressor for our canning line.  Seven barrels of Missouri Mule India Pale Ale were glug-glugging happily in time with some tunes from the Drive-By Truckers.  Yes, this little microbrewery is getting ready to can our craft beer.

We are very proud of the fact that our little craft brewery will be the first microbrewery in the state of Missouri to can our beer on site.  Our customers and the retail package stores that we’ve visited are very excited about a locally made craft beer in cans.  How awesome is it going to be to have a “Piney pint” for your next float trip, hike, trail ride, camping trip?!

It hasn’t been the easiest thing to do, though.  Back when we were planning our packaging brewery, we were thinking logo and branding first, not, “How is our logo going to fit on an aluminum can?”

When it comes to colors and designs, a label to slap on a bottle is fairly limitless.  That’s probably what we had in mind when we started working on various designs with Brooke Hamilton of Grindstone Design Studio.  As our brewery plan became more clear, we knew that canned craft beer was going to come out of the BARn.  We had decisions to make.

First of all, the minimum can order is a half a semi-truck load, so we had to decide which of our beers would go into cans first.  Our customers helped us make the decision to can the McKinney Eddy Amber Ale and Missouri Mule India Pale Ale first.  It was about a two-month process, working with Brooke and an aluminum can design company, to turn our beautiful, full-color labels into six-color aluminum can labels.

If you are an aluminum can aficionado, you may have noticed that most cans have simple graphic designs and some only have two or three colors on the aluminum.  I’ll admit, when we started the process of turning our designs into aluminum cans, we debated on re-doing everything to make the cans simpler.  Brooke worked with a graphics company in Colorado that specializes in aluminum can graphics, and they were able to take our beautiful designs and keep the color and intricacy with six colors instead of the full palette.

In September, we received a small box of “sample” cans from Crown Packaging, an aluminum can making company.  They had successfully turned our can image into an actual aluminum can.  The images looked even better than we imagined they would!

Prototype cans

We had to sign these cans to show our approval and send them back to Crown.  After they were received, our salesperson set up a date for us to have our can manufactured at a Crown factory in Batesville, MS.

Brian arrived in Batesville late at night after Andy’s soccer game.  Our cans were going to be made first thing on the morning of Tue., Oct. 4th.  A representative from Crown sales met Brian at the plant.

Our one semi-truck load of cans was really just a blip in the production schedule at this facility that churns out billions of cans annually.

Here are a few stacks of cans ready to be moved.

Here's one of our "approved" prototypes that Crown was working off of.

This machine unrolls the aluminum to make the lids.

This is the beginning of an aluminum pint can...they are "pressed" into a longer shape.

Here is the employee overseeing the paint that colors the cans.

At times, our cans were visible on production lines all over the factory.

Every so often, cans would be pulled from the line to check for any flaws or problems during production.

Brian signed off his approval on can made at the factory, too.

We were impressed with our prototype cans, but the final product was actually more vivid in color with sharper images.

It actually took longer to change the plates from one PRBC can design to the other can design than it took to make the cans for our order.  The cans were placed on pallets–8-feet tall!

6,000+ pint cans fit on a pallet.

The pallets of cans were loaded into a trailer, and when the truck trailer was full, it was Texas County bound.  Brian had the privilege of unloading all of those cans the next morning.

A trailer being emptied of cans.

Cans waiting to be filled.

We are focusing our efforts on getting our beer recipes fine-tuned in our new 7-barrel system.  We are awaiting the arrival of our new canning line–MicroCan will actually deliver the machine and help install it, making sure it’s working properly before they leave our brewery.  Within the next couple of weeks and beginning in Texas County, Piney pints will soon be available to you.

When we started on the journey to putting our craft beer in cans, we never realized the many intricacies involved.  However, we are so excited about bringing craft beer in cans to the Ozarks–a place where craft beer should be well loved in our beautiful outdoors!

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  1. This is so exciting! I love that you post pic’s!

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