Day 13 & 14: River North Canning & Bottling

To complete the second half of my internship, I wanted to get some experience at a brewery when canned and/or bottled beer. Fortunately, a friend of mine had a connection with the owner and head brewer at River North Brewery. Matt was happy to have me in to help them out in all aspects of their brewery. My first to days are River North were helping them with their canning and bottling lines, the exact experience that I wanted to get in my internship!

Their canning machine is a combination of a Wild Goose canning system, with some pieces thrown in from Ska Fabricating. It was certainly impressive to see this machine in action. Although this is quite small as far as canning systems go, it is quite a sight to see. Operating speeds vary, but at a normal rate of approximately 30 cans per minute, there is a lot to keep on top of during a canning run (more on that in an upcoming post).

For my second day at River North, a bottling run was in order to prep a barrel-aged release for the holiday season. The canning machine below is from Maheen, and can be tailored to fit the specific bottle size and bottle run. Surprisingly, the process from bottling homebrew and commercial beer is not very different. They main difference you would see in on the canning line is that everything is done in rapid succession; purging, filling, and capping six bottles at a time.

Seeing the canning/bottling operation in action certainly helps me to appreciate the distinction between the taproom and distribution business models. For myself, I certainly see the utility of canning to get your beer out there in greater quantities; however, when you invest that much in your equipment, it becomes a big part of your operation.

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