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Oskar Blues cranks up canning capacity.

On September 29, the Oskar Blues Brewery announced a new tool in the company's "gonzo beer in a can" effort. The company debuted a new automatic filler/seamer machine that increases the brewery's canning rates by 400%. The machine will fill and seal 75 cases of Dale's Pale Ale and Old Chub cans per hour.

The machine (made by Cask Brewing Systems, the Canadian manufacturer of Oskar Blues Brewery's original hand-canning gear) is the first of its kind in the United States.

"We're boosting our efforts in leading the Canned Beer Apocalypse," says Oskar Blues Brewery founder Dale Katechis. "We're on a mission and its time to pick up the pace."

"Great beer in a can is a glorious thing," Katechis adds. "It stays fresher longer and it's easier to recycle. It's better for the consumer, better for the environment. Outdoors, cans let you have your fun and drink it, too."

Katechis says the new machine will enable Oskar Blues to expand distribution and production.

"Our faster gear means we can pursue new markets," he notes, "and hopefully squeeze in some time to drink our beer."

The automatic canner has a conveyor belt feeder, a carbon dioxide gas "pre-purge" feature (to flush oxygen from cans prior to filling) and a five-head can filler. It also has a second oxygen-purge feature (prior to can lids being placed), a heavy-duty seamer and a rinsing and drying station for filled and sealed cans.

Katechis says the Cask machine is "small but very efficient." It takes up an area of just 12' by 3'. The machine cost approximately $45,000.

The automatic canner, says Cask's Jamie Gordon, elevates Oskar Blues Brewery's role at the "forefront of canning micros."

"Dale Katechis is the canning pioneer in the States," Gordon says. "He has opened the eyes of consumers and small brewers to the benefits of canned craft beer."

"Two years ago," Gordon adds, "brewers would hang up on us when we called. Not anymore. Thanks to Oskar Blues, now they say, "I'm interested.'"

Twenty American microbrewers now hand-can their beer on Cask equipment, Gordon says. "And our automatic machine will make canning more feasible for the nation's small and mid-sized craft brewers," he asserts.

This month, Oskar Blues added two 60-barrel fermenters to its operation, increasing its fermenting capacity by 50%.
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Title Annotation:Oskar Blues Brewery's production management
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 11, 2004
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