Beer Man

Tommyknocker Brewery Switching Entirely From Bottles to Cans

Tommyknocker Brewery Switching Entirely From Bottles to Cans
Tommyknocker Brewery

Most craft-brewery owners thought Oskar Blues was idiotic back in 2002 when the company became the first to regularly package its beer in cans. They said it destroyed the image of good beer and that it wouldn't work. But those brewers have all since come around to idea that good beer can be served from aluminum.

Not everyone panned the idea, though. In fact, Tommyknocker Brewery and Pub in Idaho Springs also tried to can its beer the same year, but things didn't go well with the equipment it was using, and the company gave up. But not for good. In 2014, Tommyknocker briefly tried again, this time with a mobile canning company, before putting the project to rest a second time. Now it looks like the third time might be the charm.

Last year, Tommyknocker bought its own canning line from Golden's Codi Manufacturing, and the brewery plans to roll out its first cans of TK IPA and Pick Axe Pale Ale this month. The brewery plans to continue through the year, releasing all nine year-round beers and five seasonals in cans by the end of 2018.

click to enlarge Tommyknocker's new canning machine. - TOMMYKNOCKER BREWERY
Tommyknocker's new canning machine.
Tommyknocker Brewery
"The plan is to replace bottles and switch to cans 100 percent. There's just not enough room on shelves for both," says longtime Tommyknocker head brewer Steve Indrehus. "I think bottles are a dinosaur anyway. Hopefully, we are going with the future here." Tommyknocker has also updated the recipe for its TK IPA, formerly known as IPA & A Half, and switched its Pick Axe from an IPA to a pale ale.

In 2019, Tommyknocker, which was founded in 1994, is likely to undergo a rebranding, as well, Indrehus says. "How does a heritage brewery get noticed again? That's the question. You have to stay current with the new market. You can't respond to every trend, so you figure out what you can do well and move forward."

To celebrate the launch of the brewery’s cans and to commemorate the brewery’s 10,000th brew, which rolled out on January 10, Tommyknocker will host a 10,000th Brew Party on Saturday, February 10, from 7 to 10 p.m. The party will include music from the Rapidgrass Quintet, food and drink specials, and the release of a Baltic porter that was collaboratively brewed by more than fifteen former and current Tommyknocker employees.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes