Fillin’ cans with the Can Van

I got to spend an awesome friday morning helping out on the canning line of the Can Van. Seeing the canning process up close and personal really gives you appreciation for the logistical nightmare they’re trying to solve.

For those that are not familiar with the Can Van, they provide a mobile canning line for small breweries and brewpubs who might not have the capital or space to install a dedicated line. When installing a canning line, breweries not only have to worry about the canning line itself but also the truck loads of cans needed. Companies like Ball only sell cans in volume, and storing a years worth of cans isn’t feasible for most breweries in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Can Van solves this issue by buying blank cans in bulk and applying a wrap around label to the cans inline. Their canning line is partitioned into enough pieces to fit through any door way and can be parked next to a brite tank.

The Process

The process for canning starts with taking blank cans off pallet and sanitizing the with StarSan.

Cans are then placed on a conveyer belt which leads the to a head that flushes them with CO2 and then a head that fills them. Cans are flushed and filled in sets of four.

Lids are placed on top and then enter a seamer one at a time.

Next cans were washed and checked for low fills. I always assumed a scale was used for checking for low fills but the simplest solution of seeing how the cans floated was the preferred method.

Cans were hand dried and labels applied.

Cans were packaged into cases and placed on pallets.

I was really impressed by the Can Van’s quality control. All the cans were checked at each step. Samples were continually taken and will be checked is one month for shelve life. Cans were cut up to the monitor seaming.

It was great to see the analytical approach to quality control and future additions to the system. I look forward to seeing the system in the coming years to see how it changes!

IDEX Fundraiser, Come Taste 6 Unique Beers

We’re completing with 5 other homebrewers for street credit at the IDEX Fundraiser at the Mission Cultural Center. IDEX identifies, evaluates, and grows the best ideas from local leaders and organizations to alleviate poverty and injustice around the world.

For the Fundraiser each of the six breweries was randomly assigned a region where IDEX is actively fighting poverty, and had to develop a beer around that region.

Expect to see 6 distinct beers using native ingredients and other standards. Euphemia Ales will be showing off a Belgian Wit with turmeric!

Drinks and appetizers are FREE! Of course, tips are encouraged to help support IDEX and our grantees!

  • When:  Thursday, June 14th 6 to 9 pm
  • Where:  Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission Street, CA 94110
  • Who: A diverse range of socially conscious professionals interested in celebrating and supporting IDEX’s efforts.
  • Tickets:  Get them ahead of time for a discounted price!

There is a sliding scale of $20 for Students and/or Young Professionals, $45 for Professionals, and $65 for Executives. Available at the door with a $5 increase.

Purchase them on Eventbrite now http://idexmomentum.eventbrite.com

Homebrewing Demo at Speakeasy Brewery

Where: Speakeasy Ales and Lagers (map)

When: Noon-3pm, Firkin Friday, February 17th

Ever thought about learning to brew but don’t know where to start? Come participate in our homebrewing demonstration at Speakeasy Ales and Lagers during Firkin Friday of SF Beer Week. The Euphemia homebrewers will be brewing up three homebrew versions of Big Daddy IPA along with Pine Street Brewery and Artisan Brewing.

Come ask us the hard questions and see the basics. We’ll have three groups brewing the same recipe on different systems. Artisan Brewing will be rocking the extract/mini-mash batch that can be done in any apartment. Euphemia Ales will showing off an all-grain brewing system.  Pine Street Brewery will have the big guns out with a three-tier gravity system. All three variations are great examples of what you can do in your own home!

The homebrewing demonstration will be followed by “Meet the Brewers” of the SF Brewers Guild and live music. So come on down and support Speakeasy with $3 beers!

Touring Anheuser Busch Farfield Brewery

A member of our homebrew club organized a great tour of the Anheuser Busch Farfield Brewery yesterday. Since he works at the brewery, we received a great 2 hour behind the scenes tour.

The Farfield brewery has a 4 million! BBL production capacity and is actually one of the smaller A-B breweries. The LA Brewery can produces 12 milling BBL a year and the St. Louis Brewery can produce about 16 million BBL a year. Which is a truly amazing feat.

I wish I had taken more photos but I spent most of the time in awe of how the brewery operated.

One of the first places we stopped was the finishing fermentors.

There are 140 of these 1,600 BBL fermentors which span three floors of the building.

Beer is finished on birch wood in these fermentors. The birch wood is stored in these torpedo shaped canisters.

There brewery is incredibly energy efficient both in reclaiming water and also energy. All not brew water is used in atleast two processes. For example, the water from the last clean in place (CIP) cycle on a tank is saved and used as the first cycle on the next tank to clean. The brewery also has a bio-digester to generate methane to power the brewery, a giant windmill, and is planning on installing solar panels.

The brewery was automated in 2004 and now only needs 5 people per brew shift to operate everything. All brewing and tank transfers are controlled from a center control room in the brewhouse.