Oh, Know We Know!
Mobile Canning: What is It, and Why You Should
be Using It (Beverage-Master).
By Jessica Spengler
The craft beer boom has given way to many industrious ideas over the years, all that support both the brewing industry and the local economy of the communities where they reside. As small brewery numbers continue to increase and the demand for canned craft beer thrives, many of these breweries are wondering how to meet the customer demand without having to get a bigger space. Enter, mobile canning.
Mobile canning came on the scene fast and solidified itself almost immediately. Catering to breweries of all sizes, there is now almost no where in the United States that isn’t covered by one mobile canning company or another. What is mobile canning? Well, it’s exactly what you think – mobile canning is the process by which a company comes into the brewery, cidery, or meadery, and sometimes winery, and sets up a temporary canning line, cans the product, and then leaves, alleviating any need for a separate space for a canning line, saving the brewery time, money, and space.
I’m sorry, but how cool is this?
Let’s get this out of the way right away. The idea of mobile canning is freaking awesome. Someone comes to your brewery and cans up your beer for a day, maybe two, and then they pack up and leave and bam, now your beer is in cans and you can sell them to your heart’s content.
Besides it being pretty fantastic, mobile canning is also practical. While canned beer isn’t a new concept, it is relatively new in the craft brewing industry, meaning that for many brewers, they don’t have a canning line installed in their brewery, and may not have the room for it without a costly expansion. Mobile canning provides a more convenient way to join the can revolution without the added cost.
The United States’ first mobile canning company, The Can Van, started in the San Francisco Bay area in 2011. They found that while there was a booming local craft beer market, the high cost and low availability of space did not allow breweries the room to install a canning line, even though many breweries and locals were interested in canned local beer.
“We were seeing this growth of small scale craft beer and also being in the bay area, space is at a premium, and not a lot of local breweries were able to get their beer into cans. If they had any space, they’d be putting in tanks. A lot of bay area breweries also brew at various locations, they don’t necessarily have their own brewery. It was just a need we saw in the market,” said Lindsey Herrema, co-founder of The Can Van.
Without the need for a permanent canning line in your facility, you can use that space for more tanks or other equipment that will allow you to focus on making beer. Brewers who don’t have their own facility are now able to can their beers as well as keg them, leading to a bigger market presence, and possible growth into their own facility.
“There are many benefits that makes what we do attractive to breweries, the most obvious of which is that they don’t have to shell out $150k-plus for their own packaging line… our equipment is in and out of the way in a matter of hours. We often set up in spaces that couldn’t have a packaging line there 24/7. Many breweries are built into historic buildings or in downtowns, and spaces are often at a premium. Finding space for a permanent, fixed packaging line would be tricky if not impossible. Instead, we wheel our equipment into a tight place, can a couple pallets of product for them to sell, and we’re back out of the way hours later,” said Andrew McLean, of Michigan Mobile Canning and Indiana Mobile Canning, which he co founded with partner Scott Richards.
“There are many advantages to using our service. The top 2 reasons are our experience of over 5 million cans filled and the cost savings versus buying you own canning system and all that goes with it. Initial entry into canning could cost a brewery $250,000 or more before the first cans are filled. With mobile canning there is no capital outlay, no dedicated floor space, no operational training, no maintenance, no large truckloads of cans. We accommodate small production volumes and offer non-packaging and hand-packaging breweries access to a broader market and increased revenue,” said Mike Horn, founder of Old Dominion Mobile Canning in Ashland, Virginia.
Canning doesn’t need to be done every day, so breweries are able to schedule their canning days whenever they think it will be best. For some breweries this may be twice a week, and for others, it may be as little as once a quarter. It all depends on how much product the brewery makes and how often the brewery wants to present it in cans.
“We have some customers that we do two days a week, and we have some customers that we go to on a quarterly basis. It really varies on the amount of product that they need to get out on the market. Which is also why people love mobile canning.
They can increase there orders, they can decrease there orders, kind of as the market fluctuates, they can follow that market without having all of these costs that they have regardless of how much they’re producing,” said Herrema.