Written by Jay Brooks for the Brookston Beer Bulletin
Back in the last week of April, I visited the Ball Can Factory in Fairfield, California to watch the first beer cans for 21st Amendment Restaurant & Brewery being manufactured. Last week, I followed up on that story to watch the next part of the can’s journey to your hand. So I joined owner/brewer Shaun O’Sullivan and his assistant brewer, Mike D., early Thursday morning at the brewpub to watch as they went through the process of taking empty cans and turning them into a full six-pack of beer. I even had a chance to pitch in briefly, which was great fun. All of the equipment used for the canning came from Cask Brewing Systems of Calgary, Canada. So I’ll step you through the process in detail:
First, Shaun O’Sullivan pulls out empty cans ready to be filled. At this point they have no end on one side and are open on top.
The cans are then rinsed and sterilized.
The next step is to fill the cans using the filler pictured here being tested prior to being used.
The empty cans are then placed under the two nozzles to be filled.
Where the beer fills the can rather quickly, in no more than a few seconds.
They are slightly overfilled to insure the proper amount as the end is readied to be placed on the top of the can.
A tray full of metal ends sits in between the two machines. The trick is to place an end on one side of the opening and then seat the end on the entire can.
The next machine in the process is the seamer.
Which rotates very fast and double seams the end to the can top.
The can is carefully placed in between the gap, which is relatively small (I knocked a couple of the ends off doing this which meant having to discard those cans).
Then a lever is pulled forward and down which closes the gap and begins rotating the can.
Which double seals the end to the can, making it airtight.
The last machine attaches the six-pack ring to create a six-pack of cans. Red cones are set on top of six cans and a lever releases the cones, creating a gap so a plastic ring may be placed on top of the cones.
Then the lever pushes the rings over the cans and seals them in place.
Voilà, Mike D. shows off a finished six-pack!
Here’s a movie of the entire canning process that follows it from empty can to finished six-pack. But be warned, it’s a very large file (over 87 MB). You can either download the movie to your desktop or just click on the link to play it in your web browser (assuming your web browser has the quicktime plug-in installed).