February 19, 2014
Mobile canning for beer is a relatively new concept, and one local brewery is helping a Central Virginia company mark a milestone.
"We're here today to fill our millionth can," said Michael Horn, owner of Old Dominion Mobile Canning
Horn's company canned its 1 millionth can at Wild Wolf Brewing Company in Nelson County. The company started 10 months ago, and Wild Wolf was its first client.
"That's a lot of cans for craft beer, and it just says how much Virginia is embracing cans," said Mary Wolf, owner of Wild Wolf Brewing Company.
Just by luck, the Nelson County brewery is also Old Dominion's 1 millionth can.
"We didn't want to invest in a canning unit. We don't even have the space for it," Wolf said. "Mike was just getting started from Old Dominion, so we just started talking to him."
Mobile canning companies show up to a brewery with their own equipment, set everything up inside and begin canning.
"We hook up to the beer tanks, what we call dial in the beer, make sure the pressure and temperature is right. It's very sensitive. Then away we go," Horn said.
On a typical canning day at Wild Wolf, Old Dominion cans 400 cases of beer. At 24 cans per case, that's 9,600 cans that will be distributed throughout Virginia and Washington, DC.
"I felt strongly about not putting great volumes of beer in bottles just because of the environment," Wolf said. "We live in a county that doesn't even recycle glass."
So for Wild Wolf, mobile canning just made sense.
"It's just great for the craft breweries. It's a very capital intensive business," Wolf said. "And as you try to grow the business, to spend another half million dollars on a piece of equipment that we don't have to is a great opportunity. It lets us get to market faster."
Canning his 1 millionth beer is a milestone that Horn didn't expect to achieve so soon.
"Idealistically, all my number crunching and planning, I didn't think it'd go this fast. But I'm pleasantly surprised," Horn said. "A little bit of a panic mode right now trying to keep up."
Horn said he's on track to can 2 million beers in this calendar year, more than double of what he's achieved in just 10 months.
"Business has been very good," he said. "In fact, we just ordered a second canning line. We thought we'd do it two years into the business. We've done it 10 months into the business."