Packaging Overview

Now that I’m in full swing with packaging at River North, I thought it would be a good idea to show you a few of the things that have caught my eye, or surprised me in the packaging component of the brewing operations.

I would have thought that the packaging process was nearly 100% efficient, with little waste of beer. However, like everything else these machines are not perfect and that results in damaged cans, low-fills, and a product for some other reason that cannot be shipped to the consumer. As hard as it is to take, that means that some cans must be dumped down the drain.

Despite feeling like it is a waste of beer, the total rejection rate is very low, probably in the 1-2% range. When thinking about it in whole, it really is an amazingly efficient process from de-palletizing, to filling, capping, and error detection. It is a streamlined process!

Dumping damaged or low-fill cans.

Bottle runs are very similar to canning, though are done on a much smaller scale. Here is a few quick looks a bottle labeler, which gets those labels on straight and amazing fast.

Bottle run label machine.

Sometime after bottling, almost all of the specialty beers are given a wax dip. This gives the bottles a nice look while also helping with oxygen ingress in long-term storage. One fun thing about wax dipped bottles is that every one is a bit unique and each dipper has a bit different method.

I am thinking that this might be a nice thing to do for a special homebrew when giving out as gifts or party favors. Other than the cleanup, this is a really simple process!

Wax dipping filled bottles.

Back to canning briefly to show the lineup for applying paktek carriers to 6-packs as the come out of the canning machine. Each of these lids are applied by hand and the 6-pack is transferred to the case. Each lid requires a quick smack on top to make sure it has snapped onto the rim of the can. Otherwise, you or the consumer will have a can go flying when they pick it up later. Its a pretty quick process and there is something a bit therapeutic about applying these lids and transferring beer to a case. You get in a rhythm and are able to work really quickly and with few errors, which is kinda fun.

Applying PakTek tops to six packs.

Washing kegs can seem like a never-ending process, but I guess that is just a sign of working at a successful brewery. Keep those kegs a coming!

Running the keg cleaner…and a sea of stainless steel.
Wait, what?!?!? These kegs never end…

Filling the kegs from the brite tanks is another piece that is fun to see. The system can fill 2-3 kegs at a time, which makes it easy to roll up a pallet of kegs and get the filled quickly. Fortunately, the keg washer is right by the brite tank, which makes for a short haul for clean kegs.

Filling kegs off the brite tank.


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