In 2020 we invested in our own canning line. This was a big move, especially in the depths of Covid.
Pre-pandemic Swannay Brewery was more than 80% draught beer, less than 20% bottled beer and almost 0% canned beer. So why spend our dwindling funds on a canning line?
Three main reasons:
- It’s better for the beer
- It’s better for the environment
- It’s better for the business
When we can beer at the brewery the liquid goes directly from fermentation tank to the canning line. Contrast this with sending beer for bottling in transport tanks and it’s much less transferring of the beer which is less opportunity for spoilage (reduction in quality) and wastage (every time the beer is moved from tank to tank, a small amount is lost).
Since we always brew all of our beer in Orkney, what's sent for bottling must undertake a ferry journey and a minimum of ~230 miles on the road. For bottles coming back to Orkney, it’s another ferry and twice the miles. The hose from our fermenters to the canning line is 15 metres!
We’re proud to be improving our green credentials all the time and the canning line is a big part of this. In the summer of 2023 we filled our south-facing roof installed solar panels and we have other green projects in the pipeline, too.
Canning the beer at the brewery is cheaper vs. bottling overall and we get more control over mitigating cost increases (think transport and contract packaging fees). Also, some of the money that would have been spent on contract packaging can be diverted back to the local Orkney economy by way of a job at Swannay Brewery - less money leaving the island.
So far we have filled almost 100,000 cans at the brewery. That’s ~44,000 litres of beer weighing around 44 tonnes. Much better than driving that liquid down the road!
We learn and hone our process more with every canning run we do and are looking forward to many more beers and many many more cans.
The beer to drink in Orkney with the lowest road miles is draught or canned Swannay Brewery beer.