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Beer canning goes mobile
July 09, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

Heather Murtagh/Daily Journal Jenn Coyle, CEO of The Can Van, oversees the first part of canning local hand-crafted beer in Belmont Tuesday morning.

Making craft beer is challenging enough without figuring out a way to get it to the masses.

That’s where The Can Van, a fairly new Belmont-based business, hopes to offer a solution. Founded by five friends who met while in the Presidio Graduate School Sustainable MBA program, The Can Van offers mobile canning services to craft brewers. Operations got up and running in January, after picking up the machinery needed to make the idea really work. Now the day-to-day work continues to have smaller challenges like working with a variety of craft brewing equipment — since each brewer seems to have his or her own system.

The daily labor of brewing love started with a plan, a business plan — a requirement of the MBA program. Presidio’s program encourages businesses that do good and do well, explained COO Lindsey Herrema.

Those working on it additionally had an interest in creating a small business that worked with the community, said CEO Jenn Coyle. Since those involved all had an enthusiasm for home brewing, the idea of packaging became the focus.

Canning beer, rather than using a bottle, has been growing in popularity with brewers. Canning machinery is a big investment for a small brewing operation and it takes up a lot of space, said Coyle. By offering it as a service, the costs should be lower for brewers and the machinery won’t simply be taking up space. After finishing the project in 2011, everyone remained committed to turning the class project into a reality.

Only two manufacturers offered the machinery needed to make the idea work. A road trip to Colorado allowed the team to pick up Bertha, a machine created by Wild Goose Canning Technologies.

Along the way, Belmont-based brewer Devil’s Canyon Brewery was always willing to help by offering advice on equipment and, when The Can Van was getting started, space, said Herrema. Now the company has moved nearby which allows them to work together in an area on Industrial Road in Belmont that seems to be drawing many interested in home brewing.

"It’s amazing. People have been finding us,” said Coyle.

The company’s niche has turned out to be small breweries that are just starting to produce enough beer to distribute. Herrema noted one home brewer called to see what his setup should have so they could work with The Can Van once it was time.

Technical tweaks have allowed the increase of canning ability. Down the road, there’s hope of working with even smaller brewers.

To learn more about The Can Van visit www.thecanvan.com.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: heather@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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