The pop-top aluminum can was invented in Dayton so it only makes sense that the city’s newest and largest production brewery will sell its beer in a can.
Warped Wing Brewing Co. released big details Tuesday (Oct. 1) about its brewery, which is shooting for a mid-December opening on Wyandot Street in the former Buckeye Brass & Iron Foundry building downtown.
Not only will Warped Wing be in a can — it’ll also be available on draft — but it will be in 16-ounce cans and sold in four-packs.
“One of the inventions that revolutionized the beer industry and the can industry was the pop-top invention by Ermal Fraze [in 1959] in Dayton, Ohio,” said Nick Bowman, brewery vice president of sales and marketing. “We took a look at that and saw this whole can revolution going on. All of us are pretty active lifestyle guys and we liked the fact that cans can go where bottles can’t. We may do bottles down the road. But cans, you can take more places.”
Cans also protect beer better from light and oxygen, and may open some doors at retailers who have a limited number of tap handles available for draft, he added. The brewery has purchased a canning line from Palmer Canning in Chicago.
Craft cans are definitely catching on in Ohio. Both MadTree Brewing in Cincinnati and Jackie O’s in Athens can. And the new Buckeye Canning, a mobile canning business, is traveling the state canning brands for brewers such as Buckeye, Elevator, Maumee Bay and Rocky River.
Warped Wing — which takes its name from the “Wing Warping” technology created by the Wright brothers — opted for a 16-ounce can instead of the traditional 12-ounce version.
“We like the notion of serving a true pint of beer so that’s why we went with the 16-ounce cans,” Bowman said. “It’s a point of difference. We know it’s unusual and it’s going to be different for consumers to see that four-pack, 16-ounce configuration. But we like that. It’s not the norm and we don’t view ourselves as the normal brewery.”
As for the beer itself, Warped Wing will start with three core beers for distribution: a rye India pale ale, an oatmeal stout and one involving a “mash up of a couple of styles” that they’re not quite ready to announce yet. There also will be seasonal and specialty brews.
“As far as brewing philosophy goes, we are essentially going to make well-balanced beers that show off the various ingredients when appropriate (i.e. hoppy when it is supposed to be hoppy and malty when it is supposed to be malty, etc., etc.),” brewmaster John Haggerty said in a prepared statement. “Additionally, we will follow sound production theory but will take liberties and break rules regarding process and recipe formulation when it makes sense and is appropriate to do so.”
The initial distribution will focus on the Dayton area. Warped Wing, which will operate a tasting room and make special brews for those visiting the brewery, will look later to expand into the Cincinnati and Columbus markets.
The brewery, which was mentored by Sun King in Indianapolis and Urban Chestnut in St. Louis, is promising an industrial feel for its tasting room.
“Our guests can expect a unique visual experience from the moment they walk through the front door with the industrial feel and open brewery layout,” President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Waizmann said in a prepared statement. “Once inside they will be able to sample our various beer offerings while appreciating views of the downtown skyline and cathedral of stainless steel.”
When Warped Wing opens, it will be the largest operation in the Dayton area, which is seeing a glut of new brewers enter the market. Warped Wing will launch with a 30-barrel brewing system, along with three 60-barrel fermenters.
For years the Dayton market was a dead zone in Ohio when it came to locally made beer. But the area now features several brewers such as Toxic Brew Co., Dayton Beer Co. and Yellow Springs Brewery with many more planning to open.
The media has reported that “Warped Wing is one of 10 to 12 breweries [in the Dayton area], but our point of differentiation is that we’re a true production brewery,” Bowman said. “We’ll have a tasting room. But as you can tell with a 30-barrel system and 60-barrel fermenters, we’re going after a different piece of the market. We also have a really strong management team that has over 60 years beer experience.”
Waizmann’s background includes working in the distribution industry and as an importer. He’s also known for running AleFest events and serving as a judge at the Great American Beer Festival.
Meanwhile, Haggerty’s background includes 10 years as brewmaster at the well-respected New Holland Brewing Co. in Michigan.
The other partner is Chief Financial Officer Michael Stover, a director with the regional CPA firm of Brady Ware & Co.