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A six pack of Big Hop? Yes we can


Cans and craft beer have already proven to be good partners, across the country and here in Pittsburgh. But it took a more recent brewing industry innovation — a mobile canning production line — to finally bring cans to East End Brewing.

Even with an exponential increase in square footage when Scott Smith moved his brewery to its current spot on Julius Street, figuring out where to squeeze in a canning line — not to mention the mountain of empty cans he’d need to store — in the space. Paying for the operation? That’s a whole other question.

And that’s where We Can Mobile Canning of Danville, Pa., comes in. One day last week, We Can owner Pete Rickert and colleague Jason Cichoskie spent about 12 hours canning 275 cases of Big Hop India pale ale, the first time East End’s flagship beer has been available in something other than a keg, a growler or glass.

Why the change? Mr. Smith has always preferred the idea of canning over a bottling operation (with the exception of the special-release bottles that appear at the brewery a few times each year); they’re lighter and they do a better job of protecting the product from light and oxygen.

Add to that the availability of a company that can store East End’s empty cans and bring the canning line to the brewery? The decision to start canning became much easier.

The guys at We Can are finding that’s the case across their territory, which ranges from Cincinnati to the East Coast. Mr. Rickert said We Can got started two years ago with Lavery Brewing in Erie and now cans up to 10,000 cases of beer each week.

“We’re the canning line, we’re the warehouse and we’re the labor,” he said. “All our customers have to do is get the cans to the distributor or to their customers. We’re here to make this process easy.”

Post-Gazette coverage of East End and We Can:

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