Dan Blatt thought it was strange. Here he was sitting at a tiny brewery in Colorado drinking a beer from a 16-ounce can but he didn’t see a canning line anywhere.
How was this little brewery putting its beer in a can, he thought.
Blatt, the former brewer at J.W. Walleye’s Microbrewery on Middle Bass Island, discovered the brewery was using Mobile Canning, a Longmont, Colo., company that allows breweries to can their beer without investing in a canning system. As the name implies, the canning line comes to the brewery.
Blatt was so impressed that he and partner B.J. Solomon are launching Great Lakes Mobile Canning, an affiliate of Mobile Canning. They hope to have their system ready to serve breweries in Ohio, Michigan and western Pennsylvania by March or April.
“I really think it’s going to take off nationwide,” Blatt said.
Mobile Canning works like this: The business hauls its canning line and pre-ordered aluminum cans to a brewery for the day – or longer -- and cans any beer requested.
One of the knocks on canning for craft brewers is that you have to order a ton of cans. That means you have to have a place to store a ton of cans. Oh, and you are stuck with a ton of preprinted cans. That means you have to sell all those cans with that beer. You can’t exactly put a Scottish ale in a can that says pale ale. (With bottles, you can just change the label and voila.)
Mobile Canning solves those issues by storing the cans and shrink-wrapping labels onto them. The shrink-wrapping allows the brewery not to invest in so many cans for a single brand.
Mobile Canning was launched last year and already has 10 breweries using its services, including Boulder Beer Co., Bonfire Brewing and Renegade Brewing.
The service makes sense for small breweries, co-owner Pat Hartman said.
“Some of these smaller breweries can’t produce enough beer to justify having an expensive piece of equipment and running it once or twice a month,” he said. Then there’s the maintenance and labor involved, too.
Mobile Canning also allows breweries that don’t bottle or can to get their beer into the market.
Blatt said the business should be a hit in Ohio, where small breweries are popping up all over the state.
Putting craft beer in a can still may be a little foreign for beer drinkers here in Ohio, but it’s common in the West. Two Ohio breweries – Jackie O’s and Fat Head’s – have invested in canning lines and hope to be delivering at least some of their beer in cans soon.
“The can revolution is really taking off,” Blatt said.
Beer drinkers also may recognize Blatt’s name from elsewhere. He was trying to launch the Good River Brewing Co. in Lorain County, but that effort has fallen apart. “Yeah, it’s on the backburner, he said.
If you’re interested in the Great Lakes Mobile Canning effort, you can email Blatt at email@example.com .