After introducing its 805 Blonde in 12oz cans last year in May, Firestone Walker Brewing is now ready to launch Union Jack IPA, Easy Jack Session IPA and Pivo Hoppy Pils in six pack, 12oz cans beginning in mid February.
Known for doing things its own way, Firestone Walker took its time to make sure that when canning its core line of beers. The brewery made sure to tackle this endeavor the correct way.
“We could have rushed into canning a few years ago, but we wanted the timing to be right,” said brewery co-proprietor David Walker. “The market for canned craft beer is now hitting its stride, and canning technology has come a long way in a short period. Also, cans are a perfect fit for life here on the Central Coast. All of these factors converged to finally reach a tipping point for us.”
Last year while attending the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest we were able to take a tour led by Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. During this private tour we were able to take a look at the brewery’s new canning line that had only recently been fired up to can its 805 Blonde. As with most of its projects, Firestone went all out when purchasing a canning line that was manufactured by leading beer packaging company KHS based in Dortmund, Germany.
“It was the best—and most expensive—solution,” said Brynildson. “You can make the best beer in the world, but if you run it through a substandard packaging line, you end up with a beer-wrecking machine. With this KHS line, there are no worries about beer integrity.”
The canning line was first fired up last year to produce cans for the brewery’s 805 brand. The cans are dry-rinsed with ionized air and purged with CO2, then filled. The cans next run through a bubble breaker to remove any air bubbles before being surface purged with CO2 to eliminate oxygen from the head space.
They are then seamed with a Swiss-made Ferrum seamer and inverted for a short period to detect any leaks as they exit the seamer. After a final rinse, cardboard carriers are auto-assembled around the cans. At full speed, the canning line produces 400 cans (12-ounce) per minute.
“I think there are advantages to both cans and bottles,” Brynildson said. “Cans do a great job of blocking UV light and maintaining a great seal, but on top of that they’re just fun. They’re light and they carry anywhere. I get goosebumps just thinking about having these beers in cans.”
We look forward to the three new can releases from Firestone Walker. Its already getting us excited for some upcoming outdoor adventures.
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 25 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in the archives of Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @hopapalooza.