Boulder Beer, Colorado's oldest craft brewer, plunges into cans

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Oh the places you CAN go.

It's a slogan that will be printed on the side of Boulder Beer's new Hazed & Infused cans and part of the company's new strategy for Colorado.

"You can take cans places where you can't take bottles: trails, pools, rivers, climbing," says Boulder Beer marketing director Dan Weitz, echoing what a number of other brewers have said about their reasons for trying the canned beer market.

As a result, the state's oldest operating craft brewer - Boulder Beer was founded in 1979 - will begin hand-canning its signature IPA this May in 12-packs for sale in Boulder and Denver.

"Our beers are available in thirty states, but we're only going to distribute this in our hometown of Boulder and Denver to see how it goes. It will be our test market," he adds. "This is a big deal for us. If you are going to do it, you have to do it right."

The cans themselves were made Tuesday at the Ball Packaging plant in Golden (which also makes cans for at least seven other Colorado craft breweries). The logo will be printed using Ball's Eyeris technology, which can reproduce high-resolution, photo-quality images on the side of the can. "It's wicked cool," Weitz says of the design.

Boulder Beer expects its new canning machine to arrive this week from Canada's Cask Brewing Systems. The machine can fill eighty cases a day; by comparison, Boulder Beer, the nation's 48th largest craft brewer, bottles 72 cases of beer every twenty minutes.

"In a perfect world, we will get a bigger [machine] in a year," says Weitz who believes the canned Hazed will sell out quickly. "The liquor stores area saying, 'Please, give us cans because people are asking for them so they can take them places."

Boulder's Avery Brewing also plans to begin canning four of its brews in May; Boulder Beer and Avery follow on the heals of at least half a dozen other Colorado craft brewers, including New Belgium, Wynkoop and Breckenridge, who have begun canning recently.

Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont became the first craft brewer in the United States to make and can its own beers in 2002. It's now the 44th largest microbrewery in the nation.

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