Michigan Mobile Canning owner makes case for cans

 Cans have some advantages over bottles

By Alex Mitchell
Kalamazoo Gazette

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Not too long ago, craft beer lovers seemed to be at a consensus that brews are best served in bottles.

Now, the industry is shifting away from that line of thinking for several reasons, according to Andrew McLean, owner of Michigan Mobile Canning, a company that specializes in canning craft beers for breweries by using its mobile machine.

“Cans protect against light better, protect against oxygen better and are 100 percent recyclable,” McLean said as he gave a presentation recently to beer enthusiasts at Wayside West as part of Kalamazoo Beer Week. 

McLean began his business in June 2013 after becoming an affiliate of Mobile Canning Systems of Colorado, the first company McLean is aware of that offered mobile canning for craft beer in the U.S., according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

McLean, who operates the business with Traverse City native Scott Richards, said he worried a steep education process would be necessary early on to show people the benefits of canning. But, for the most part, craft beer drinkers are already in-the-know, he said.

“Craft beer drinkers tend to be a pretty savvy crowd,” McLean said. “They’ve already heard the story. They just want a vessel that’s going to protect it best and make it the way the brewer intended when he was sitting there over a long brew day.”

The business, has worked with breweries in Michigan and Indiana, including the Saugatuck Brewing Co., Right Brain Brewery of Traverse City and the Wolverine State Brewing Co. of Ann Arbor.

Companies wishing to utilize the mobile unit, which is transported via trailer and runs off an air compressor and electricity, typically print sleeve wraps to be placed around plain aluminum cans. There is also an option to go a more expensive route and use pre-printed cans, which Michigan Mobile Brewing is able to arrange through a deal it has with CROWN Beverage Packaging.

Beyond choosing a preferred labeling method, the business operates on a “pay-as-you-go” method, McLean said.

“When we’re there, if we fill 3,000 cans, you pay us for 3,000 cans,” McLean said. “You don’t have to worry about the rest.”

Ben Finch, owner of Finch’s Beer Co. of Chicago, also sang the praises of canned beer while attending the presentation.

Finch said canning provides a more environmentally friendly packaging method for craft beer since aluminum cans can be recycled at nearly a 1:1 ratio as opposed to brown glass bottles, which require nearly three old bottles to make one new one.