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Even the best laid plans sometimes deserve a second look, and when designing a new brewery from the ground up, those early plans often go right out the window.
We planned to install a canning line in Mills River at some point in the future (and designed the packaging hall to fit it in), but in the years since we first launched canned Pale Ale, cans have become increasingly popular for us. Our down-the-road timeline to install the canner got shorter and shorter and right now we’re running the first cans on our new line, and we couldn’t be more excited. You guys out there in the craft beer world are the ones who told us what you want and we’re listening.
This is the life of a craft brewer. The beer landscape is so dynamic and ever evolving that we’ve learned to adapt pretty quickly. Brewers and craft beer fans are closely connected these days and when we’re doing something right or wrong, our fans let us know. Once we hear about it, we immediately get to work.
Beer in cans carried a stigma for such a long time: that only big industrial brewers used them, that they give an off flavor, that they are a sign of something cheap, etc. Craft brewers have always been forward thinkers, and since our friends at Oskar Blues—the pioneers of canned craft beer—jumped into the can game, that stigma has dissolved.
We initially suspected that cans would be only a small niche of our production, something fun for the summertime when folks are more apt to be outdoors. Since their debut, however, cans are becoming a much more important part of what we do. Year round, they’re a go-to for people who simply like what cans have to offer: portability, durability, lighter to carry, and easy to hold. After a while it just made sense to bring cans to our second home in the east.
Our new can line is a German-made Krones 52-head canner. When it gets up to speed, it can run at a blistering pace of more than 600 cans per minute (nearly two six-packs per second!). Can lines are finicky and hard to set up, but once they’re dialed in, the twisting and twirling metal is a beautiful sight to behold.
It’s only fitting that we debut this new canning line with a brand new beer. The first real workout it will get is with cans of our new Nooner Pilsner (set to hit store shelves in the coming weeks). This new German-style pilsner is the first of two all-new year-round beers coming early this year.
As we round the corner into 2015, we’re excited to see how far this brewery has come over the past year and we’re eager to see what’s next for us here in North Carolina.