Meet The Can Van. A mobile canning service to assist small craft breweries change the way they deliver their product to beer lovers everywhere. Sit back and crack open our interview with Co-Founders Jenn Coyle Catalano and Lindsey Herrema of The Can Van.
Canning has become a popular way for breweries to deliver their craft beer to its many fans in the US. Breweries such as Avery Brewing Co, Sierra Nevada, 21st Amendment, Maui Brewing Co and even our own local Monkey Paw Brewing Co have all starting canning their delicious beers. Some breweries such as Oskar Blues have always been in the canned craft beer game. Why should craft breweries make the move into the world of canned beer? Well an obvious reason could be that canned craft beer is 100% protected from sunlight and oxygen, preserving the beers freshness and taste. One could also say that cans are much more portable for the on the go beer lover, and are acceptable at locations where glass bottles might not be allowed. But did you also know that because cans are lighter in weight, it lowers shipping costs for breweries when delivering their product? According to Oskar Blues website, the ability to ship canned beer lowers their fuel costs for shipping and reduces their carbon footprint by 35%. Aluminum cans are also the one product that is 100% recyclable. OB site also states that a recycled aluminum can generates 95% less pollution than one made from scratch and requires 96% less energy. As you can see there are plenty of reasons for craft brewers to start canning their beer. So how does a small brewery get into the canned beer game? Meet The Can Van. Providing a mobile canning service for craft breweries.
The idea of The Can Van was brought to life by friends Jenn Coyle Catalano, Lindsey Herrema, Jake Blackshear, Heath Cox and Kate Drane while attending Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. Brought together by a love for craft beer and a desire to help small local breweries, they got together and wrote a business plan during their final semester. After speaking with many local brewers, it became clear that a mobile canning service would be a great way to assist small and medium sized breweries offer their craft beer in cans. The team started raising money and purchased their mobile canning equipment in the fall of 2011. By January of 2012 they were canning for their first customer, Devil’s Canyon Brewery in Belmont Ca. When called, The Can Van brings their mobile canning equipment to the small brewery and fills, seals and packages directly on site. Did you have a can of Monkey Paw Brewing Co’s Rich Mans IIPA, Sweet Georgia Brown or Oatmeal Pale in recent months? Feel free to thank the team at Can Van!
Please enjoy our interview with The Can Van Co-Founders Jenn Coyle Catalano and Lindsey Herrema.
Who were you looking to serve as your key customer with your services? Are you working with the same people and businesses to this day?
We aim to serve any size brewery that would benefit from a hassle-free packaging option and who does not produce enough beer to need their own canning line in use every day. With our service the brewer does not have to spend the money to purchase their own line, or find a place to put it, or pay for additional labor to run and maintain it. We also purchase cans and lids in bulk and share materials between all our customers; this frees breweries from the headache of the large minimum order requirements from the can manufacturers.
Most breweries we work with are repeat customers. We have standing orders to come back and can on a regular basis to help them meet their distribution schedules and sales demands. Our very first customer continues to be one of our largest customer, and they project their canning orders to continue growing. We know that brewers put a lot of time and love into making their beer, and we strive to create a positive and fun experience for all involved when we can their beer.
What is the process that goes into canning a batch (large or small) or craft beer?
Our equipment is brought to the brewery in a trailer, but rolls out into the brewery to set up close to the finishing tanks. We hook directly up to the bright tank, and the beer is fed into our four fill-heads on our canning line. Cans are sanitized, purged with C02, filled, seamed, rinsed, labeled, and packed into 6-packs and cases ready for distribution.
What are some of key reasons The Can Van team prefers canning over other methods of beer storage? Why should breweries start looking to can their craft beer?
Brewers are switching to cans primarily because cans protect the taste and quality of beer better than other forms of packaging. Cans provide a complete barrier from light and oxygen, which are the main threats to beer quality over time. Cans are also much lighter than glass, making it cheaper to ship product to a broader distribution range. Consumers like the portability of cans, and are increasingly reaching for craft beer in cans when they are headed outdoors.
Did the team as a whole love craft beer when The Can Van came into existence?
Of course! A few of us are home brewers, but all of us are craft beer fans.
(If any) What breweries have you worked with in the San Diego / Southern California area?
Our first foray into canning in Southern California was for Monkey Paw in San Diego. We canned about 300 cases of their beer, and it sold out in a matter of weeks! We are in the planning stages to head down again, this time adding other breweries as well.
What are some of the teams favorite breweries? Any San Diego breweries or beers make the list?
We have so many great Northern California breweries it’s impossible to choose, especially all the nano brewers in the Bay Area like Pacific Brew Labs and Pine Street Brewery who are working hard to develop new beers in tiny urban garages. We also have a special place in our heart for some far flung cans like SunKing in Indiana and Big Sky in Montana. Lots of good beers in San Diego as well, we worked with Monkey Paw down there at the beginning of May and really enjoyed their Oatmeal Pale Ale and Imperial IPA. We also like Green Flash, we get a good selection of their beers on tap around San Francisco bars.
Please finish this sentence… We love beer because…
…it is a constantly evolving industry populated by great people doing what they love…and it tastes great!
Special Thank You to Kate Drane and The Can Van. Please visit their website, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Photos used by permission.(c) 2012 Jenn Coyle Catalano – Creative Commons Attribution.