It’s tradition for Buckeye Brewing Co. to create a limited edition beer in honor of Cleveland Beer Week. This year, that beer is even more special.
Buckeye Brewing, a production brewery in Cleveland, hooked up Saturday (Sept. 21) with Buckeye Canning, a new mobile canning business, to produce the first locally canned beer in Cleveland since the Christian Schmidt Brewing Co. closed in 1984.
It also happened to be Buckeye Canning’s debut run in Ohio.
In other words, it was a memorable day for both businesses.
Buckeye Brewing owner and brewer Garin Wright created a Munich helles using all German ingredients for the occasion. The beer, simply called Cleveland Beer Week, will be sold in a four-pack of 16-ounce cans, with many earmarked to be released this week at Heinen’s grocery stores. The retail price is $10.99.
Wright is tiring of the misconception that craft beer must be high alcohol or over-the-top when it comes to flavor. His Munich helles is 5.3 percent alcohol by volume and an easy-drinking, malty brew.
“I know I’m going to get some naysayers who say, ‘Garin, a light beer in a can?’ ” he said.
But a can is perfect for a more delicate beer because it seals out oxygen and doesn’t allow any light to hit the liquid — both of which affect flavor and aroma. It’s better to put a fragile beer in a can, Wright said.
“I’m proving that the can works,” he said.
“My favorite package is the keg,” he added. “This is actually a small keg.”
The Cleveland Beer Week label is basic. It’s just lettering on a white background.
The label features a scannable QR code, allowing people with smart phones to watch a video and read more details about the beer itself.
Ninety percent of Cleveland Beer Week (the beer) will be in a can. Beer drinkers also will be able to sample it on draft at the Buckeye Beer Engine in Lakewood and at Brewzilla, the monster beer festival that concludes Cleveland Beer Week, which runs Oct. 18-26. In addition to Heinen’s, the beer is expected to be available at other select accounts.
As for Buckeye Canning, co-owner Dan Blatt set aside the first can off the line to save as a memento.
“We’re pretty excited, man,” he said.
Mobile canning works like this: Buckeye Canning hauls its 24-foot canning line and [empty] cans to any brewery that wants to can. The main part of the line weighs a whopping 800 pounds so it’s fortunate that it has wheels.
Then, the brite tank is hooked up to the canning line and away you go.
It takes three guys to operate the high-tech machine, which automatically feeds the cans — 12-ounce or 16-ounce — from pallets, pulls them along a twisting line, sanitizes them and fills them with beer.
The line can do about 40 cans a minute.
At the end of the line, the cans fall into a bucket of water. The properly filled cans sink to the bottom. The floaters are discarded.
Buckeye Canning packaged 246 cases at Buckeye Brewing.
“It went pretty well,” Blatt said afterward.
Ohio craft breweries are continuing to embrace cans. MadTree Brewing in Cincinnati and Jackie O’s in Athens operate their own canning lines.
And Buckeye Canning will be at Elevator Brewing Co. in Columbus later this week canning Bleeding Buckeye Red Ale. Then, it’s off to Maumee Bay Brewing Co. in Toledo for Buckeye Beer and Rocky River Brewing Co. in Rocky River for Punch ‘N the Nuts.