In our latest installment of “Five Questions With…” I speak to COOP Ale Works partner JD Merryweather about COOP’s plans to begin canning beer this summer. Having COOP at the house without having to buy a 5-gallon keg? Sounds like a jolly-good idea! (Not that I’m necessarily against the idea of having a keg of COOP at the house. Just kind of hard for one guy to consume by himself.) Here goes:
1. The Thirsty Beagle: Word through the grapevine is that you guys will start canning beer this year. Is that correct, and what’s the timeline for that?
JD Merryweather: We have purchased a canning machine and have started initial testing. The next step is to finalize the artwork for the can designs. Our current plan is to have cans on the market the first of July if not a week or so before.
2. TTB: Did you guys strongly consider staying with kegs only? Did you ever consider bottles? Why go with cans?
JD: We have known from inception that we would grow into packaging. Our early success made us want to do so sooner, but demand for draft has been so strong that developing a packaging program kept getting pushed as we’ve been super busy brewing and placing numerous tap handles around the state. We had originally planned to start with bottles but as we have extensively researched the market, cans have made more and more sense. … Cans do get recycled. The technology for canning has also evolved and the public perception for cans as a quality package has grown. Several of the leaders in craft brewing have migrated to canning. It keeps beer fresh when handled properly and it is a much more environmentally friendly way to drink beer. Plus it opens craft beer sales to the numerous venues and public places that do not allow glass.
TTB: What kind of format will we see on shelves? I understand 16 oz. cans are planned. Will they stand alone? Four packs? Six packs?
JD: We will be filling 16oz cans and packaging them as 4 packs.
4. TTB: I saw that you were picking up new fermenters (last) week; do you need to increase capacity to facilitate canning?
JD: We have increased capacity to keep up with overall demand. Canning does factor into the expansion but we also need to be able to build up reserves of the six beer brands we are currently producing. The F5 was slated as a seasonal but it may grow into a year-round offering. Oktoberfest is already on our production calendar so that may make us … have seven styles in the works at one time
5. TTB: Is there a game plan in terms of what will be canned first? Maybe a gradual roll-out?
JD: The July schedule has us releasing both Horny Toad Cerveza and Native Amber. The pair have been neck and neck as far as our highest volume beers. Public voice has also expressed for the most part that they would like to have these two beers poolside, on the lake, at home for the BBQ and in the cooler. We are very excited to be expanding into the market in this direction.
You heard it here first, beer fans: Cans of Horny Toad and Native Amber should hit the shelves this summer! Thanks for the update, JD.