The meteoric rise of Sun King continues with the addition of an automated canning system that should help the brewery get its beer on local liquor store shelves by mid to late March.
Many craft breweries are still small batch bottle processing, a slow and tedious process that involves touching each and every bottle that goes out the door. Sun King's new canning system is capable of maximum speeds of 18 16oz cans per minute - or somewhere between 60 - 70 cases per hour.
What this means is that you can expect the beer in even more locations. "This enables us to sell the beer to folks who may not have a spare tap line available" said Robinson.
One potential problem with canning versus bottling is that pre-printed cans must be bought in bulk - a costly initial investment that can hamper diversity of product. Sun King plans to start their canning with their most popular styles - Cream Ale and Osiris Pale Ale - and see how the demand shakes out.
"One of the reasons we went with this machine is that it allows for different can sizes" said Sun King Process Engineer Michael Pearson. "So if we want to do one-off runs of bigger beers in bigger cans, or smaller cans, or anything like that, we have the ability."
Another option the brewery is looking into is a shrink-wrap type label that would allow for in-house labeling of blank cans. This would allow for cost-effective smaller batch or one-off varieties.
Robinson noted that he has already been in talks with 8 to 12 local liquors stores, with names local craft beer fans are familiar with - Mass Ave Wine Shop, Vine and Table, Goose the Market, Crown Liquors and Kahn's were just a few mentioned - so the beer should be available all over the city. That's a good thing, because initial taste tests proved that the beer out of a can is a tasty and wonderful thing. Considering Sun King's success, we wouldn't expect anything less.