Two of Richmond’s startup breweries are looking to aluminum to expand their reach.
Center of the Universe Brewing Co. and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery have signed on with Old Dominion Mobile Canning, an upstart portable canning operation in Richmond.
Ashland-based Center of the Universe will can 220,000 beers, split between its Ray Ray’s Pale Ale and Main St. Virginia Ale. Co-owner Phil Ray said that, if the cans are a hit, the young brewery might eventually invest in the equipment to do it in-house.
“If the cans do well, we’ll stick with them,” said Ray, who opened the brewery with his brother Chris last year. “If not, we may look into getting our own bottling line. Either way, we’re going to have a permanent 12-ounce container for our beers.”
Ray said COTU would work with Richmond-based Brown Distributing to get the cans on local store shelves by May or June.
COTU brews are available on at least 80 taps throughout Richmond and Hanover County. Ray said it recently added three new tanks to keep up with demand.
“As soon as we opened, we realized we were at maximum capacity,” Ray said. “And we’ll have to keep expanding.”
From its home base near the Diamond, Hardywood is also starting with two canned beers: the Capital Trail Pale Ale, proceeds from which will benefit the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, and a second brew it isn’t publicizing yet.
Hardywood co-owner Eric McKay said it’s hard for small breweries to launch a canning operation because of the cost.
“We hadn’t planned on getting into canning in the near future,” McKay said in an email. “Old Dominion Mobile Canning offered a great solution that would enable us to start with a much lower upfront cost by bringing their canning line to us.”
Old Dominion Mobile Canning owner Mike Horn said business has been picking up as he prepares to start filling cans for his first clients next month.
In addition to COTU and Hardywood, Wild Wolf Brewing Company, Roanoke Railhouse Brewery and Devils Backbone, all in Virginia, have signed on.
“When I first started, I thought it would be a challenge for me to find work,” Horn said. “Now I think it’s going to be a challenge keeping up with all of it. It’s great.”
There are so many things I love about this story. Ray Rays in a can is very exciting news. Also really happy to see that these local breweries are doing well.
It’s great to see cans coming back to the birthplace of canned beer!
If there’s two comparable beers on the shelf–one in a can and one in a bottle–I’ll always buy the can. I play outside a lot.
I suspect COTU in a can will be a hit – I wonder how much will be due to the can and how much will just be that most likely cans will be far more cost effective per once than the 22s that COTU currently sells.