How Oktober Can Seamers Beer Can Fillers Helped Craft Pubs
What does bottling of beer into aluminum cans look like in US craft establishments now? Pubs and breweries wash and sanitize empty jars and lids, which are then stored in cold stores to avoid long waits for guests. When guests arrive for beer, the cans are immediately filled with carbon dioxide and then beer from the tap and sealed with an Oktober seamer. The buyer pays, picks up the goods and cheerfully goes his own way. At home, fresh beer is waiting for him directly from the brewery or pub. Or not only beer: you can pour and sell cocktails and any other drinks in the same way.
In 2020, a novelty from Oktober Can Seamers literally saved craft brewing, which was predicted to die in America due to a pandemic! Cars are selling like hot cakes, manufacturers and crafters are happy. What is the secret of success?
From space to bottling drinks in aluminum cans
Dennis Grumm, CEO of Oktober Can Seamers, holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University. After graduating, he worked for the Campbell Grinder Company, designing and developing CNC grinders for the aerospace industry. But in his free time, the engineer was fond of home brewing and dreamed of his own business.
One day Dennis thought: wouldn’t it be easier for homebrewers to pour their products into aluminum cans? And he wrote down the idea in his smartphone: “a machine for rolling up metal cans of beer.” Based on his work experience, Grumm spent a lot of time drawing in 3D, assembling and testing prototypes of such a device. He set himself the task of making the car compact, extremely simple, convenient and reliable, with a minimum of carefully fitted parts. So engineering skills in the space industry found a new, terrestrial application.
“While our can seamers are really simple in appearance, there is a lot of attention to design tolerances, overhang, size and shape of components and parts ,” says Dennis.
Initially, Grumm and two engineering friends designed the seamer only for home brewing. But after creating the first working prototype in 2014, everything changed. To test the invention in practice, the authors invited the craft brewery Grand Armory Brewing Co. (Michigan) use it to bottle beer on Independence Day. The machine worked perfectly and allowed me to sell a whole mountain of beer cans in one weekend.
Grumm realized that he had chosen the right direction for the business. He made a couple of changes so that the device could be adjusted to metal cans of any size, drew up a business plan, and sent the first production model to the Grand Armory. Handicraft production in the basement in the company of several friends in 5 years turned into a small factory with an area of 900 square meters. m with 20 employees. The growth was smooth: first one sale per week, then two, then five per week, 5-6 per day. And then the pandemic hit…
The Oktober seamer is a lifesaver for the US craft brewing business
When the lockdown began, America’s craft world plunged into chaos and turmoil. The technical solution proposed by Grumm turned out to be unique and so relevant that even such large breweries as Founders adopted the machine. During the day, sales jumped 10 times and have only been growing since then. In 2020, the company’s profit doubled. More than 10,000 Oktober Can Seamers have been sold to date.
The fact is that quarantine in the United States was stricter than in our area. Since spring, all breweries and pubs have closed to the public. The choice was simple: shut down permanently or sell take-out bottling. Sales of beer in kegs immediately fell sharply, because the public could no longer sit in pubs for a long time, as before. I had to urgently change the methods of packaging and delivery of goods. New requirements have appeared: to sterilize and hermetically close the dishes. Without this, it was forbidden to issue beer with you. And in the current situation, metal cans turned out to be the best way out… For some craft breweries, beer sales even doubled compared to 2019 only thanks to the new packaging. Oktober seamers help breweries and pubs get beer into the hands of consumers as quickly as possible without violating quarantine rules.
Aluminum cans are not only safer and lighter, but also more convenient for customers than large glass cans. During the time that one large jug of 2 liters is being filled, 4 metal cans can be poured. In addition, not all guests buy expensive craft beer by the liter.
The seaming device itself is very reliable, easy to operate and maintain, and operates silently. It is easy to use in a small brewery or at the bar – just put it in a convenient place closer to the outlet.
The basic version of the Model 7 Can Seam er™ is a manual machine with a quarter horsepower motor that spins the can as it closes. Oktober machines are carefully calibrated to standard beer can sizes and are ready to go straight out of the box with no setup required. It is enough to screw the handles. An empty aluminum can is filled with carbon dioxide and then beer and covered with a sterilized lid. You need to select the type (diameter and profile) of the metal cover and the appropriate adapter from the kit.
The jar is installed in the machine, turned on and sealed by moving the clamps to the top edge. The process takes a matter of seconds. CO 2 is heavier than air and protects the beer during pouring. Due to this, there will not be so much air in the closed can, but still, the protection against oxidation is not as reliable as with factory bottling. Beer from such cans should be consumed on the same day, it is not intended for long-term transportation and storage.
Despite this, according to brewers, the machine helps to increase beer sales by at least 25% and quickly pays off. Those who previously could not sell beer in cans at all because of the high cost of bottling lines, seemed to have a second wind. Many people have been successfully using Oktober Can Seamers for several years and managed to seal up to 50-70 thousand cans (about 3000 per month) on the same machine without the slightest failure, with minimal maintenance.
Beer in cans for takeaway has become a new popular product and, according to rough forecasts, even after the restrictions are lifted, it will bring craft pubs up to 40% of the total revenue.
Another direction that is useful for the bar business is the take-away sale of cocktails made from fresh or perishable ingredients. Like beer, cocktails in metal cans are meant to be consumed quickly.
A homebrew version of the Oktober SL1 Homebrewer has recently been developed . It is just as high quality and durable, closes beer cans just as reliably, but is designed for less intensive use. Seaming rollers are optimized to work with one lever instead of two: less parts, less problems.
“The story of last year was just crazy. The opportunity to help all these breweries was an unexpected stroke of luck for us, ” says Dennis Grumm. “ We did not expect anything like this, but the whole team, everyone who worked on the creation of machines and their shipment, were very happy to work to help the craft business. We are all real fans of craft brewing, so it was a cool experience for us. I’m sure we’ll never forget him!”
*In preparing the article, texts and photos from the sites www.hopculture.com and hazyandhoppy.com were used.