Cover Story Notebook: Bottles vs. Cans

In an ongoing series, Brewer will take a small note from interviews of some of the cover stories it has run and give a small tidbit that didn’t make the issue but is still worth diving into.

From a big keg to a tiny keg, Sun King Brewing loves its beer in metal, either on draft or in a can. The Indianapolis, Indiana brewery that opened in 2009 was on the November/December 2017 cover and co-founders Clay Robinson and Dave Colt saw the brewery go from draft-only at the start to 10 months later canning.

This was in an era were canning was not yet exactly the norm.

We asked the duo why there were pro-can.

“Bottles? They suck, every which we can think about it,” Colt said.

He added that it takes more energy to recycle a bottle back into a bottle than a can into a can.

“Aluminum is lighter, [it takes] less energy to ship cans around and to get pallets to us,” Colt added.

Robinson pointed out that sunlight and oxygen are beer’s greatest enemies, “so cans keep out light, no UV rays.

“It’s a tiny little keg to your mouth,” he added.

Of course, there were challenges to overcome.

“Ordering a pallet of cans was a big amount to undertake and to store,” Colt recalled in the interview. “[Manufacturers] didn’t want to shut off their machines to make a small batch for a small guy, the smallest you could get is 150,000 cans … a whole truckload.

“You better damn well be sure you can sell all that beer. It’s a $40,000 truck of empty stuff.”

Now there are small scale canners, mobile, shrink sleeves, paper labels or label applicators so smaller breweries can buy pallets at a time with stickers.

“The industry has come a long way in the last 10 years,” Robinson said during the chat and showing off the brewery’s then-new canning line. “[It] has a small footprint, a CFT 12×2.

“A lot of reasons we love it, oxygen pickup, reliability and a bulletproof seamer that does a great job. It can be expanded to a 24×4 for more fill heads. This will do 90 16-ounce cans or 120 12-ouncers, three to four times faster.”

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