Updated July 29, 2020
Another Can Shortage?
Earlier in 2020 we reported about an impending crowler can shortage (see below) as supplies for this packaging format surged due to the closure of bars, restaurants, and other draft-related venues (on-premise sales). With many of these businesses remaining closed or at limited capacity, the swell off-premise sales continue to test long-term the manufacturing capacity of cans. The latest indications are that the 16-oz. can format as well as the slim-can packaging are both being pushed to their limit. Hard seltzer sales are continuing in the upward direction, which is driving the slim-can shortage, while the 16-oz. shortage is driven by the craft beer segment. The 16-oz. shortage is expected to disproportionally affect the smaller and newer breweries. Meanwhile supplies of crowler cans continues to be short with one supplier cited in a story by Brewbound.com as shifting from sales by the half pallet (1,200 cans) to sales by the box (120 cans).
We decided to chat with a few craft brewers from our area. John Kimmich, owner of The Alchemist brewery in Stowe, Vermont, whose 16-oz. can format of their esteemed Heady Topper was one of the first craft breweries to package their beers in this size, was concerned but optimistic. “Our team at The Alchemist is very organized, and very steady, so we are able to place our orders well in advance. Our CFO, Lara Lonon, has done an amazing job of maintaining our supply chains and accommodating longer lead times.”
A much newer brewery on the scene is Black Flannel Brewing located in Essex, Vermont, which opened up this summer. Speaking with their Head of Brewing Operations Dan Sartwell, there hasn’t been much in the way of supply chain worries at this point, but he mentioned that a can shortage may greatly impact them. Until brewery taprooms and restaurants can fully reopen, breweries of all sizes continue to lean on bottles and cans to sell the remaining volume of beer. Currently, Ball Corporation, one of the leading manufacturers of aluminum cans for the beer industry, is in the process of building two new facilities to increase their output to meet the growing demand. Hopefully craft breweries large and small will have their demands met. John added “Worry doesn’t get you very far in this business, or in life in general. We try to mitigate any worries by keeping an eye out for any potential disruptions and addressing them before they happen.”
Working Together For Everyone
The current COVID-19 crisis can seem overwhelming at times. But despite all the pain and hardships that folks are going through, there are some bright spots that are sometimes not always reported. One such bright spot is the number of breweries, wineries, and distilleries that are mobilizing to craft sanitizer solution and hand sanitizers in order to help meet the growing demands for these products. Across the country, winemakers and brewers are creating the “wash” that the distillers can then concentrate through the distillation process to create an ethanol solution strong enough to kill the virus (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 60% ethanol for disinfection from SARS-CoV-2 virus). It’s heart-warming to know that our friends in the alcohol industry are giving back in the best way they can in these challenging times. We at BYO magazine salute all those that are devoting their time and valuable resources towards this magnanimous effort.
In case you haven’t heard, Crowler cans (32 oz. size) are temporarily out of stock at many suppliers in the US due to the rapid increase in sales of to-go packaging of beer. We asked Jake Sinkler at Oktober Can Seamers about this major dilemma and he gave us an update from what they are hearing and seeing, since a large number of small-scale breweries are depending on this format of packaging to keep revenue coming in and beer going out during this time of to-go and delivery sales during stay-at-home orders across the nation.:
“We typically sell Crowler cans, but have sold out for the moment. We have an order placed that is (as far as we know) set to arrive in early April, but also we have a ton of 24 oz. cans and other sizes. The Crowler can is great, but there are plenty of ways to keep selling beer to-go.
We have plenty of inventory to build new seamers for customers, and have ordered new parts to keep up with the increased demand. If a brewery is struggling to find Crowler cans, we sell additional tooling sets for our Model 7 can seamers so they can swap their Model 7 – G (Crowler Seamer) to seam a different size and keep on selling.
We don’t want to pretend to be the experts on taproom profitability, especially during a strange time like this. We’ve been seeing a lot of breweries partnering with delivery services to boost take-away sales, and offering specials for customers who come in and grab beer. Really we’ve just been trying to do our part to keep buying as much beer as possible and get as many seamers into the wild as we can.
Canning your beer is really simple, we have videos on our website to show you how to do it: https://oktoberdesign.com/info/. My best advice is to CO2 purge, bottom fill, cap on foam, and don’t do any ‘extra credit;’ each operation only needs to be run once. We use a beer gun, which is super helpful.
I think that it’s important to point out that we’re here to help. We know that to-go sales are imperative right now, and we’ve heard from our customers that our seamers are helping them pull through. Let us know what you need and we will try our best to make that happen for you.”
2019 Beer Sales
After combing through several annual sales reports, 2019 overall beer production in the USA remained fairly flat, while craft beer sales continued its modest growth according to a report put out by the IRI (Information Resources Incorporated) market research team. According to the IWSR (International Wine and Spirits Record) research group, when digging into the various segments, craft beer saw an estimated 4.1% increase. Macro beer sales on the other hand saw a 3.6% decline. The flavored malt beverages category, which includes hard seltzers, grew by roughly 43% in 2019. Non-alcoholic and very low alcohol beers grew by an estimated 6.6%. Ciders saw a slight decline, down 3.8% in 2019.
In other news from Brewbound.com, overall canned beer sales continue to make gains over bottles and draft in both off-premise (stores) and on-premise (at breweries and taproom) sales of beer. According to their report, cans gained 2 percentage points in off-premise sales, to 64% of sales, and 6 percentage points of on-premise sales, up to 42% in 2019. According to the Brewer’s Association (BA), in the craft beer segment bottles now account for 53% of overall sales while cans account for the other 47%. The BA’s economist Bart Watson expects craft can sales to exceed bottle sales for the first time ever in 2020.
Tapcooler Counter Pressure Bottle Filler
Fill bottles directly from your draft faucet with the new Tapcooler Counter Pressure Bottle Filler. Fit the Tapcooler into any forward-sealing faucet and slowly fill bottles by pressure release. The fill tube on the Tapcooler is telescoping, allowing it to reach the bottom of both short and tall bottles. Hook up a CO2 line and you can purge empty bottles and the headspace, prolonging the life of your beer. With many optional configurations available through accessories, the Tapcooler can fit just about any home draft system. Learn more at Great Fermentations’ website. https://shop.greatfermentations.com/category/tapcooler-bottle-filler-and-accessories
Quality Labs for Small Brewers
Released by Brewers Publications, Quality Labs for Small Brewers, will walk you step-by-step through the process of establishing and writing a quality program for your brewery. Dive beyond the numbers and build an understanding of a small brewer’s most important measurements and how to analyze them. These routines will help pinpoint any risks or areas of improvement and ensure that only quality beer reaches the customer. https://www.brewerspublications.com/products/quality-labs-for-small-brewers
LalBrew Verdant IPA
Lallemand has a new strain selected for its sensory characteristics. It results in increased mouthfeel and fresh fruit aromatics. This strain can be used for the production of modern IPA styles with tropical fruit qualities when paired with hops of equivalent characteristics and late and dry hopping regimens. Verdant IPA strain is recommended to be fermented between 64–73 °F (18–23 °C), it is a medium to high flocculator, can ferment up to 10% ABV, and is a medium to high attenuator. Learn more at their website. https://www.lallemandbrewing.com/en/united-states/products/brewing-yeast/
The Spike Solo
Designed to be compact and turnkey, the Solo is a great way to brew all-grain with minimal space requirements. An optional steam condenser lid is designed to fit all sizes of the Solo, making it convenient for brewing indoors without ventilation requirements. Each Solo is fabricated at Spike Brewing’s shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin using high- quality materials and components. Initially available with a 20-gallon (76-L) brewpot size, capable of brewing 5–10 gallons (19–38 L) and requiring a 240V outlet. Plans are to release a 15-gallon (57-L) and a 10-gallon (28-L) brewpot version capable of brewing 2.5–5 gallons (9.5–19 L) and 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) respectively. The 10-gallon (28 L) version will only require a 120V outlet. For more, check out https://spikebrewing.com/pages/ebiab
KOMOS® V2 Kegerator
The new KOMOS V2 Kegerator builds upon the original model, but with several notable upgrades. First it sports a faster cooling capacity and more energy efficient operation as well. The redesigned interior can now hold up to four 5-gallon (19-L) kegs at one time. Added features like the Duotight fittings allow for easy changeovers of kegs or for cleaning while the EVABarrier draft lines are a double-walled tubing offering protection against oxidation, CO2 loss, and microbial growth. Also included are stainless steel Intertap forward-sealing faucets, stainless steel tower, digital controller, stainless steel door, stainless steel floor, rolling casters, tower cooling fan, and KOMOS CO2 regulator. Learn more at https://www.morebeer.com/products/komos-g2-kegerator-stainless-tower-intertap-ss-faucet.html
WildBrew™ Philly Sour
In collaboration with the University of the Sciences (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Lallemand Brewing is proud to introduce its first non-Saccharomyces yeast in dry form. Isolated from nature by Dr. Matthew Farber and his research team, this yeast is able to produce both lactic acid and ethanol during primary fermentation. Determined to be of the genus Lachancea, the species is defined as new and the use of the product in sour beer production is patent pending. It will produce sour beer in 7–10 days at 77 °F (25 °C). The acidity produced is described as subtle and smooth with flavor notes of red apple, peach, and honeydew melon. Philly sour is recommended at a pitch rate of 50–100 g per hL (2–4 g per gallon) of wort, which is sufficient to achieve a minimum of 2.5–5 million viable cells/mL and is available in 500-g and 11-g sachets. Learn more at lallemandbrewing.com
The Grainfather G70
For those folks who would like to brew bigger batches but want all the convenience of an all-in-one brew system, your prayers have been answered. The new G70 unit allows batch sizes just over ½ bbl (16 gal/60 L) with a conical base for maximum brewhouse efficiency from an all-in-one brew unit. The mash can contain upwards of 37.5 lbs. (17 kg) and contains a counter-flow heat exchanger. LCD controller mounts to the system magnetically for ease of use and the Grainfather app allows you to brew remotely or track fermentation. For more information, visit https://grainfather.com/grainfather-g70/
Monster Brewing Hardware is happy to announce their newest mill, the Geared MM-3Pro. The new mill has added 2-in. (5 cm) gears made of 1215 steel to the end of the top two rollers. The top gap is fixed at 0.070 in. (1.8 mm) with an adjustable gap of 0.028-in. (0.7 mm) up to 0.055 in. (1.4 mm) between the top drive roller and the bottom third roller that are all induction hardened steel. This mill is available with a keyed ½-in. drive shaft for direct drive with their ½-horsepower, 240-rpm gear motor. This is available as an individual mill, individual motor, or combined as a kit. To learn more, see https://www.monsterbrewinghardware.com/stor/pc/home.asp
November 6 & 7, 2020 — BYO NanoCon Online • San Diego, California
NanoCon Online: Live, interactive seminars with big ideas for small-scale craft breweries. Register Now & Save $100. Don’t miss targeted live online brewing and business seminars to help you run or launch a successful small-scale craft brewery in these challenging new times. Learn more at https://byo.com/nanocon/2020-nanocon/
POSTPONED UNTIL 2021 — BYO Boot Camps
Due to concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak, this event has been postponed. The BYO Boot Camp will now be held March 25–27, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.
Featuring an expanded itinerary with three full days of learning, two full days of small-class workshops plus a new full day of brewing seminars featuring all our expert speakers! For more information: https://byo.com/byo-boot-camps/