Brewery Cost to Install Bottling vs. Canning Line?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by JGLittle, Aug 20, 2014.

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  1. JGLittle

    JGLittle Disciple (328) Mar 24, 2012 Massachusetts

    With the newer trend towards canning (which generally I like for several reasons) I was wondering if anyone knows what the price difference (if any) exists between canning vs. bottling lines?

    Seems to me that if a brewery didn't have either it would make sense to can at the moment. I have heard that the lead time to even get a canning line installed is currently a long wait and I am sure there are other factors as well.

    Thanks!
     
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    “I was wondering if anyone knows what the price difference (if any) exists between canning vs. bottling lines?”

    Don’t have any specific prices to quote but I have some comments.

    There are cheaper canning lines and more expensive canning lines.

    There are cheaper bottling lines and more expensive bottling lines.

    For both canning and bottling lines there are ‘features’ that impact the cost of the various canning/bottling lines:

    · Rate of packaging (how many cans/bottles per unit of time)

    · Amount of Total Packaged Oxygen (TPO) per can/bottle

    · Etc.

    Maybe some industry folks might be able to provide more information.

    Paging @bulletrain76 @Peter_Wolfe @MattRiggs @augiecarton

    Cheers!
     
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  3. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Initiate (0) Jun 21, 2009 Virginia

    I visited a tiny start-up out in Western VA and the topic of canning came up. They actually wanted to can their beer initially instead of bottle, but they would have had to order by the truckload (batches of 100k cans; pre-printed). Even if cheaper per can vs bottle, them having 5 beers available would make the 5 truckload overhead cost too expensive of an option.
     
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  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Do you happen to know if they contacted Cask Brewing Systems for a canning line? Cask Brewing System's market is small breweries and it is my understanding that they will sell cans in smaller quantities (at least they would when they started up).

    The other alternative is mobile canning systems like We Can Mobile Canning located in Danville, PA.

    Cheers!
     
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  5. Boca-X

    Boca-X Zealot (580) Jan 21, 2014 Missouri
    Subscriber

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  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    A sentence worthy of note from that article: “Lavery's Dulachan ale shot through plastic tubes into bright green cans manually fed into the line.”

    There was article in the magazine Philly Beerscene which had a picture of We Can Mobile Canning canning at Manayunk Brewery. That picture indicated that a manual canning line was used. It is a slow, labor intensive process. From a consumer perspective a potential issue is a higher Total Packaged Oxygen (TPO) from this type of a system; the net result could be a shorter shelf life for these canned beer since elevated dissolved oxygen levels accelerates staling.

    Below is a video of the Cask Brewing Systems manual canning line.

    Cheers!

     
  7. augiecarton

    augiecarton Aspirant (206) Oct 22, 2010 New Jersey
    Industry

    way to many variables for a real answer so thoughts:
    • i think in general all beers (outside proper long term fermented wild sours on their lees) should be in a can its just the better package for beers based on all data points i've been offered.
    • at the small scale (like us) bottles are much easier than cans because changing the label you would put on a bottle if you give up on a beer is much easier and cost effective than printing new cans. as shrink sleeveing gets better this difference gets smaller.
    • TPO is a case by case basis but a well filled can has a much smaller head space than a bottle.
    • we use a mobile canning line, Iron Heart (we love them) its not in any way cheaper over a short time than buying the same line and installing it would be, but for us with our space and staffing concerns its by far the best option. Bottling on our own would be easier and cheaper in every way at that scale but again not better for our beers.
    • we just did a 13 BA double blind tasting of 7 of the last 12 canning runs of Boat that were stored in 4 different locations. the 12 month old can from my static 55 degree cellar was the third favorite of 28 and the 12 month old brewery cellar (varying yearly temp 58-74) stored was tied for 4th with 4 other duration/situations. This gives me great confidence in our canning plan.
     
  8. JGLittle

    JGLittle Disciple (328) Mar 24, 2012 Massachusetts

    Thanks for your thoughts Augie. I have seen Iron Heart around (I think the did some Wormtown canning), seems like an interesting business plan. I am a can convert and now prefer them over any other container for all of the reasons everybody else discusses, portability, recycling, etc. etc.
    On a side note and not to fan boy you too much, I am getting to try Boat and the 077 next week and am looking forward to it!
     
  9. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (539) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    I've seen startup breweries whose bottling line is essentially this. no canning line is this inexpensive.
    [​IMG]

    As far as the pre-order of cans, i've seen some breweries that have "blanks" and use shrink wrap labels. that way, you can order the mass quantity of cans without them being dedicated to one beer.
     
  10. augiecarton

    augiecarton Aspirant (206) Oct 22, 2010 New Jersey
    Industry

    let me know what you think
     
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  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    “…"blanks" and use shrink wrap labels.”

    That seem to be the method that We Can Mobile Canning uses. I have canned beers from Round Guys that was produced by We Can Mobile Canning and the graphics are shrink wrapped. The shrink wrapped process looks good to me.

    Cheers
     
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  12. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (539) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    i think the shrink wrap lets the brewery get more creative with the design, though i think the printed cans are catching up on that. Sun King uses the shrink wrap on most if not all of its seasonal/specialty beers but i'm pretty sure they can in-house. upland has also been using the shrink wrap on their new canned offerings. not sure if they are using a mobile canning line or not.
     
  13. ShaneP

    ShaneP Initiate (167) Jan 26, 2013 Indiana
    Industry

    It's not a one size fits all answer but I can respond based on how we evaluated our options.

    1. Cost: Depends on the size of the line. It's really how much does the brewery have or want to spend. You can bottle by hand at a very low entry point. Canning has the option in many places now to use mobile canning services which work decent if you have the volume to make it work (beers that are at the several hundred case level and up per canning session). The low cost options on bottling really work best for small/nano breweries that are selling everything retail for almost immediate consumption. If you need shelf life in bottles then it means you need to invest in proper equipment or if you have a mobile canning service available you should use it.

    2. Lead time: New equipment lead times depend on who you buy from and how large and custom your needs will be. For most smaller/medium breweries depending on the company you purchase from it's a 3 to 6 month lead time. We recently purchased a Cask canning line and it took about 3 months from order to delivery. We bought one of their more standard offerings. We love it too.

    3. Materials: Cost of cans and bottles is different, but which a brewery uses seems to be more about preference. For bottles you can label them, sticker them or get painted bottles at the super high end. For cans you can sticker them, shrink wrap them or get printed cans. Printed cans are the most expensive and best for higher volume beers that you can order at least a 1/4 truck load to full truck load (40,000 or so 16 oz cans = 1/4 truck load to give you an idea of volume). You need to be doing a higher volume beer or printed cans are not economical. So, the decisions here are going to be different from brewery to brewery. We only can beers that we can do volume where we can use printed cans because we like the high level of detail we can achieve in a printed can.

    I would say you can can/bottle literally with a brewery built setup for a few thousand dollars, but it's not going to be easy to make consistently, high quality product with good shelf life. If you want a consistently high quality product with shelf life then entry level for new bottling or canning equipment is in the $50 to 80K for top end equipment. Used equipment just varies if you can find it. The packaging costs for bottles and cans varies a lot depending on your choice in #3 above.

    We can now but we also want to be able to do bombers/750s in the future for some special releases and are evaluated a smaller scale bottling capability. All of the above is based on purchases and evaluation in the last 18 months.
     
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  14. ShaneP

    ShaneP Initiate (167) Jan 26, 2013 Indiana
    Industry

    Breweries can and do buy shrink wrap equipment. Sun King owns their own canning line and the shrink wrap equipment so they can produce cans for some of their smaller run seasonal releases. It's also very common for mobile canning services to use shrink wrap as it gives then a way to provide a full service for lower volume beers and seasonals from breweries (see my other post of the volume required for printed cans to really make sense)
     
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  15. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,135) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    Conjecture on my part, but my guess is the filling equipment itself is pretty much equal cost with the caveats 1) you get what you pay for; 2) apples to apples on capacity. I don't work with fillers much, but the cost of the actual filler must be a small percentage of the total installation what with building modifications or construction, utilities, conveyors, rinser, capper for glass or seamer for cans, carbonation system, CIP/sanitation systems. Whether you do palletizing by hand or automated, etc. A whole lot of things that look like small 'taters until you tally them all up. There's some pricey can seam inspection equipment - I don't know if it is required or not. There are also procedural considerations for glass fillers that might add some cost. Maybe it all washes out roughly equally. Labels - have to have them, what type would impact the cost of the equipment some (pressure sensitive, wrap around, glued, shrink. etc).

    I can't compare to what we purchase, unfortunately, nor could I disclose the cost. We just bought two brand new Krones fillers. Quick survey of one of my used equipment vendors puts a plastic bottle filler around $100 K and a comparable can filer around $95 K in used "like new" condition. But the whole installation? I mean, one of the filtration systems I work with costs $300K, but the rest of the plant around it costs $3 - 4 million...For a single piece of equipment, we usually estimate the installation cost as double the purchase price of the equipment.

    Not sure that helps anybody and I might be way off target here, but what the hell...gave me something to think about as the work day winds down.
     
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  16. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    Now you know why really small breweries have those bottling/packaging "parties."
     
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  17. MattRiggs

    MattRiggs Initiate (161) Dec 1, 2012 Illinois

    Minimum order for pre-printed cans is 250,000 units. Minimum order for blank cans is 150,000 units.
     
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Matt,

    What is the source (vendor) for the values you quoted?

    Here is a link that discusses canning for small breweries: http://www.beveragebusiness.com/archives/article.php?cid=1&eid=27&aid=205

    From that article:

    “And at a 15O,OOO minimum print run on the cans, you've got to make a solid decision on what to can."

    Cheers!

    Jack
     
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  19. ShaneP

    ShaneP Initiate (167) Jan 26, 2013 Indiana
    Industry

    Reality is you have two options to purchase printed cans. It is Ball or Crown. They have different minimum purchases based on 12 and 16 oz cans. What I have quoted is the Crown model which is who we use. We started with 1/4 truckloads and now buy full ones... a full truckload of 16 oz cans is 136,150 cans.... that means a beer you make a lot of.....
     
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  20. MattRiggs

    MattRiggs Initiate (161) Dec 1, 2012 Illinois

    I got that number from Ball.
     
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  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    "We started with 1/4 truckloads..." So, in the beginning you were able to purchase printed cans in lot sizes of approximately 34,000 (1/4 of 136,150)?

    Cheers!
     
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  22. ShaneP

    ShaneP Initiate (167) Jan 26, 2013 Indiana
    Industry

    Yes, about 43,000 16 oz cans is actually where it comes out (it's not exactly 1/4 obviously due to how many cans fit on a standard pallet). We work with Crown and they have a program for the less than truck load option that is new in the last 18 months or so and it was a great way to get started in our case.
     
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  23. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Devotee (493) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Depends.
    There are quite a few different price points at work.
    For example: I'm talking exclusively about bombers here. But. You can bottle on a 4 - 8 headed DIY contraption that costs under a few hundred bucks, and there's an arms length of breweries that have, and continue to do so. You compromise nearly everything with what you are bottling, but for the month or so before it goes to shit. You got a beer on the market, and money to afford something better. Or you can spend the 15 - 30k for something like a meheen.
    For general consumptives?
    It's another ball game for packaged beer, and you are at the mercy of what you feel your current and next potential few rounds of expansion needs are. How much automation do you want? How much hand packaging do you want? How many people do you want to have on staff? Do you want a date coder? The upfront costs for the different bells and whistles that automate certain functions in packaging and serve to replace staff on line can save you a hell of lot of money later.
    You can go "cheap" and have a 2 head inline where a 7 bbl run will take 1 - 2 days to deplete, or have a 10 head in line that can rip through a 30 bbl run in a few hours, or you can have a 65 headed filler bowl and a room sized monstrosity that can hit 600 pm and make mince meat of a 275 barrel brite in one shift. It really depends on what you can afford, and what you feel your needs are currently and what you anticipate they will be.

    At this point, there's going to be a lead time on nearly everything to do with the packaging of beer, and what's more is there are new players on the market as well.
     
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    When it comes to small scale canning lines the two vendors I am aware of are Cask Brewing Systems and Wild Goose Canning Technologies. Are there other vendors besides these two for smaller craft breweries to obtain canning lines?

    Cheers!
     
  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Augie, from my readings on the Iron Heart Canning website it appears that they utilize the Wild Goose 250 canning line (automated fill and automated can top seaming). Can you confirm that Iron Heart uses the Wild Goose 250 canning line?

    Have you ever had your cans tested for TPO post canning? If so, what values did you get?

    Cheers!
     
  26. ShaneP

    ShaneP Initiate (167) Jan 26, 2013 Indiana
    Industry

    Cask and Wild Goose are the companies most trying to support smaller/medium scale breweries. There are many, many companies making canning equipment (and bottling). The technology and approach of both is actually very different. We chose the Cask but both companies are actually very well thought of in the industry and why a brewery chooses one or the other is all about priorities.
     
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  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Thank you for that input. Which specific Cask canning line do you have? Have you ever had the TPO tested in one of your canned beers? If so, what value did you achieve?

    Cheers!
     
  28. ShaneP

    ShaneP Initiate (167) Jan 26, 2013 Indiana
    Industry

    Hey we use the semi-automated Cask line and it's awesome
    http://www.cask.com/main/index.php?page_id=156

    Yes, we own Hach lab equipment and do TPO & DO testing. This was a major upgrade for our lab and we saw the improvement in our consistently immediately because we could more accurately test and as needed make adjustments in real-time. We do TPO and DO tests on all of our canning runs as well as our beer for draft packaging.

    Being able to test in house has made an amazing difference in being able to trace and determine where we could pick up DO and make reductions. We have seen TPO consistently in the low PPB levels (parts per billion) e.g. below 10 ppb in some cases.
     
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Shane, thank you so much for your willingness to provide open and honest discussion in this thread. You were a BIG help.

    It sounds like you did things 'right' at Daredevil Brewing; a TPO level of below 10 ppb is excellent packaging.

    I have read about your Kolsch style beer in a past thread and I was impressed. I don't know if I will ever make it out to Indiana but if I do I will seek out your beers!

    Cheers to Daredevil!
     
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  30. augiecarton

    augiecarton Aspirant (206) Oct 22, 2010 New Jersey
    Industry

    we haven't yet, we've only canned the 12 times. that is all part of the plan when we are canning ourselves in our house but like i said above so far we have been nothing but delighted with the product in the cans as old as 12 months
     
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  31. JGLittle

    JGLittle Disciple (328) Mar 24, 2012 Massachusetts

    Had both the Boat and 077XX and they were great. Good work. My buddy who got them was down in Jersey for his cousins wedding and ask the bartender for something local and he got handed a Boat. Got online and found out you guys were close by and he visited the brewery the next day. His cousin (who got married) is coming up this weekend and bringing him a couple of cases. Lots of new fans!
     
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  32. augiecarton

    augiecarton Aspirant (206) Oct 22, 2010 New Jersey
    Industry

    thanks, its great to hear it worked for you. see ya on the next one
     
  33. ironchefkook

    ironchefkook Initiate (0) Nov 5, 2013 California

  34. LMT

    LMT Initiate (0) Oct 15, 2009 Virginia

    Boat holds up really well for such a hop-forward brew. I've noticed no difference in quality from initial purchase to finishing my last ones over the course of several weeks.

    Now I just need to get my hands on some O'Dub cans...
     
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  35. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Do you continuously store your cans of Carton cold (in the refrigerator)?

    Cheers!
     
  36. LMT

    LMT Initiate (0) Oct 15, 2009 Virginia

    Yes. And they were stored cold in the shops I've purchased them from.

    So both of these factors add to the shelf life.
     
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  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,976) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Agreed!

    Cheers!
     
  38. Ranbot

    Ranbot Devotee (441) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    FWIW, I recently had St. Lawrence's Ruby Canoe, which had definitely soured and I doubt it was intentional for a bock. St. Lawrence is a customer of We Can, so I assume the canning was done by the manual canner shown in the video you posted above. Judging by the one written review on Beer Advocate and scrolling through some comments on Untappd it looks like I'm not the only one noticing Ruby Canoe going sour. The beer I had was bought by my father on 11/15, there's no date or batch code on the can, and my father confirmed the other beers in his 4-pack were sour too. My father is probably going to email St. Lawrence just to let them know [politely of course]. I've had cans from Round Guys, who also use We Can's mobile canning, and didn't detect any issues, so maybe it's just something happening at St. Lawrence. I understand there could be contamination sources unrelated to the canning process, so I'm not ready to blame We Can or mobile canning more generally, but the experience does make me more wary of brewers using mobile canning services, especially if I can't find any canning dates. There's too much other great beer on the shelves to bother with that risk.
     
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