Why Putting Sours, Wild Ales in Cans is Worth the Switch

Tying together affordability with a smaller package along with furthering the education of wild and sour beers, Crooked Stave owner Chad Yakobson made a decision for the Denver-based brewery: a switch to cans.

The shift to cans for Crooked Stave came because of the availability of smaller runs and because the brewery had more volume, which helped get it to a level where ordering cans was a good ROI.

“Smaller runs of cans definitely makes it more affordable and feasible for smaller breweries to be able to can their product, however the main reason we switched to cans was to continue our mission of introducing and educating consumers about wild and sour beer,” Yakobson explained. “We aren’t able to do this if the product we are producing is not available and affordable.

“We increased production in order to make all of our beers more available and we got to a level where ordering cans was possible.”

The styles of beers that Crooked Stave produces normally is seen in larger bottle formats, but many breweries have signaled that those formats don’t sell and have opted to make runs in 12-ounce cans instead. That helps lower price points and be more competitive with other options on shelves.

“Canning allows us to put our products into consumer-friendly packaging while still pushing the bounds of brewing science,” Yakobson said. “We are able to offer a premium product at an approachable price point, allowing us to bring more people into the wild and sour category in a packaging format that fits with our Colorado lifestyle.”

That doesn’t mean bottles have been tossed out the back door. Crooked Stave’s higher tiered products will continue to remain in bottles while the brewery continues to create cans on its new PS Angelus CB50 canning line.

Adding cans to the Crooked Stave product mix has opened the brewery up to new sales and new avenues in which they reach new consumers.

“Our goal has always been to introduce and educate as many people as we can …” Yakobson said. “We are using our transition to cans as a way to achieve that goal. We hope to grow the category itself over the next few years at a much greater capacity then we were able to in bottles.”

The brewery did extensive research in terms of ordering cans through Cask and Ball.

“We are putting traditional wild and sour beers into cans and there aren’t too many breweries out there doing it,” Yakobson said. “We had to send all of our beers in for corrosion testing. Since we have an innovative product like Sour Rosé, a 100-percent primary fermented in oak sour beer in a can, we didn’t know if we would pass the corrosion testing. It has been fun to experiment and be on the forefront of brewing science and packaging.”

He noted the biggest quality improvement comes from lower dissolved oxygen (DO) rates.

“The canning line that we purchased, along with high-end processes like using ionized air instead of water to clean our cans, allows us to get ridiculously low DO rates after packaging,” Yakobson explained. “Low DO rates improve the shelf life of our non-Brett beers while making a wonderful environment for our Brett and Sour beers like Sour Rosé.”

For QCQA, they take measurements roughly every 30 min and are constantly adjusting the line to make sure fills have the lowest DO possible, as well as, running the CMC-KUHNKE which allows Crooked Stave to do seam checks and make sure they have a proper seam on every can.

“Our quality department runs parallel to our production department, the quality and lab departments at Crooked Stave are more developed to that of a larger brewery and because of that our quality department has helped make the transition to cans seamless,” Yakobson said.

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