Front Range

Road Show

Two Coloradans turn canning beer into a mobile operation.

September 2013

5280.com Exclusive: Read a Q&A with Renegade Brewing owner Brian O’Connell here. You can also watch a video of the canning process at the brewery here.

The curse of the can has been lifted. Once emblematic of cheap beer, aluminum cans have steadily gained credibility among craft brewers as perfectly serviceable—even preferable—vessels for their quality ales. Lyons’ Oskar Blues Brewery began packaging its deliciously hoppy Dale’s Pale Ale in cans a decade ago, and today more than a dozen other Colorado craft brewers have embraced aluminum. Lighter, less expensive, and more easily recycled—what’s not to love?

As it turns out: the 100 G’s it costs to get started. That’s the going rate for a canning line, a pretty high barrier to entry for nanobreweries, like Denver’s Renegade Brewing, with small spaces—and even smaller budgets—that only produce a few hundred cases of canned beer a week (as opposed to Oskar Blues, which hammers out millions of canned beers each year).

Enter Longmont-based Mobile Canning Colorado (MCC), founded by homebrewers Pat Hartman and Ron Popma, Pennsylvania natives who met in Colorado while pursuing tech careers. The company’s two mobile canning lines can be rolled into the back of any brewery, where they sanitize, fill, and seal up to 36 cans per minute.

The idea for MCC came to Hartman while taking classes for the University of California Davis’ Master Brewers Program in 2011. “They started talking about this process of mobile bottling,” he recalls. “And I was thinking, cans are definitely the better way to go with beer.” He and Popma launched MCC three months later.

Since then, their client roster has grown to 14 breweries, including Renegade, Crystal Springs Brewing Company, and Boulder Beer Company. “We’ve been taking the money we’re saving with these guys and putting it back into producing more beer,” says Renegade owner Brian O’Connell, who cans his Redacted IPA, Elevation Triple IPA, and 5:00 Afternoon Ale with MCC. “Cans have been the backbone of our growth.”

This year, MCC decided to take its on-the-go canning model nationwide with a kind of affiliate program: For a flat fee, MCC wannabes receive a business plan for launching their own mobile operations—six-pack not included.

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