Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Steam Whistle Canning Line

Steam Whistle believes that they are the only North American brewery canning their beer in 500ml cans and I can't prove them wrong. Not that I want to or anything, it's just that doing an online search I couldn't come up with any results. Sybil Taylor, director of communications at Steam Whistle, told me that they wanted to be the first to offer their customers with that extra little bit of beer for roughly the same price as some other import cans in the same format. "The cans have to be purchased from a company in England as you just can't get the 500ml here in Canada," quoted Taylor.

I recently had the opportunity to join Taylor down at the brewery to witness their new canning line in operation and meet some of the great individuals who work at the brewery. I watched as the empty cans were loaded onto pallets then moved to the vacuum line to enter the tunnel where they would eventually be filled one at a time. Marek Mikunda, brew master at Steam Whistle, claims that the canning line can fill 150 cans per minute and he was there keeping an eye out for malfunctions and to ensure things went smoothly.

The canning line runs one day a week and requires five staff members to handle the product; however, come summer, I think that Steam Whistle may be required to run it more as sales will surely increase. There were a number of employees carefully observing as cans whipped down the line from start to finish, some making sure the cans were upright, some watching for half fills and some loading the finished product onto pallets for shipment.

Taylor has been impressed with the sales figures since the cans were released back on September 15, 2008. "They have been selling really well at the LCBO's and Beer Stores and we have seen how popular they are with Universities and Colleges, they want to eliminate the glass bottles," stated Taylor as we walked around the equipment.

Steam Whistle missed out on the summer season as there were issues getting the canning equipment to Canada (a strike in Brazil, where some of the machines came from) but they have big goals for next summer. "Everyone knows how well cans sell in the summer months and we anticipate that our products will do exceptionally well."

The cans are available at select LCBO's and Beer Store's across the province and can only be purchased as a single unit ($2.70). However, in Alberta and at the brewery's retail store, the cans can be sold in a nifty four pack suitcase package that resembles the larger bottle cases. "I think these are so cool," Taylor exclaimed, "We hope that one day the four packs will be available for wide scale distribution like the four packs of Guinness, Boddingtons etc," she went on to say.

Below is a video I took with my cheap camera. The quality is not so good, and the movement isn't the best, but it is what it is.


Zoran said...

Well, I don't think they are first to offer 0.5 L cans. I did some research and I came with two Hockley beers (currently discontinued) that were offered in that size.

You can find them doing the search on LCBO site: Hockley Gold and Dark.

Troy Burtch said...

Zoran - you are right, Hockley Valley DID can their beer in 500ml..did. They now can with 473ml cans.

I said in the post that Steam Whistle is the only one doing it in North America - not the first.


Zoran said...

Troy, and please take my nitpicking as a complement for your great blog, because it is. It actually makes me care enough to scrutinize it since it's so damn interesting.

Lager Bore said...

I just like watching the cans go down the slide.

Troy Burtch said...

Zoran - thanks man, glad you enjoy the site.

Anonymous said...

great to see pictures of the canning line that i built last summer with pivot packaging systems with 3 other guys, i wanna come back to toronto to see it in action

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