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MadTree cans roll off the line and make history

The day we have ALL been waiting for finally happened today.  The much beloved new kids on the block, MadTree Brewing, have started pumping their PsycHOPathy IPA into cans with the help of their pal, Canny Rogers, the canning machine. Cincinnati (and beyond when I do some beer trades soon) can finally satiate their thirst for local IPA in nearly any place at nearly any time without the assistance of a barkeep.  Now, if you lack opposable thumbs it may be challenge but I’m sure where there’s a will there’s a way.

Ohio’s first canned craft beer

MadTree has the distinguished honor of being Ohio’s first craft brewery to can their beers in the modern age.  The last local canned beer carried names like Hudepohl, Schoenling, and Burger – and well, they weren’t the most flavorful beers out there.  Both Jackie O’s in Athens and Fat Heads in Cleveland have canning plans in the works for the near future but they haven’t put any out yet.  More proof that Cincinnati’s craft beer scene is a force to be reckoned with.

Canned beer? Really?

Okay, lets squash the negative stigma of canned beers immediately.  Many folks see cans as the delivery device of low-brow, flavorless yellow beers since it makes them cheap and easily concealable in a brown paper bag.  However, don’t scoff at the mighty aluminum coffin.  Cans are actually beer’s best friend for a couple of reasons.  First, the opaque cans block out all light which means you minimize your risk of opening a skunked beer (I’m looking at you clear Corona bottle).  Also, it acts as a far superior oxygen barrier compared to their cousin, the crown cap, that sits atop most bottles.  Oxygen + finished beer = stale/wet paper or cardboard flavors – blech.

So far the aluminum can has knocked out two of beer’s biggest enemies when trying to get full flavors into your belly.  What else is so special for the can?  It’s light and recyclable.  So that means you can finally sleep at night if you are concerned about the carbon footprint emitted by production and transportation of goods and services.  It’s also REALLY portable if you like to bring your beverages to the beach or pool, or near any other solid surface that presents a potential safety hazard to glass bottles.  Let me be clear that I am not anti-glass or solely pro-bottle, but a can really expands your beer range.  Folks also really like collecting them, so that’s cool.

Here comes the science.

If you don’t watch the History and Discovery channels obsesively like this author you may wonder how beer makes it from the fermenter to your hands.  It’s a relatively simple process thanks to modern engineering.  First, you run a large beer line from your bright tank to your bottling machine (liquid in).  You then load up the cans into a feeding tray/funnel to put them into a single file conveyor belt system.  Each empty, topless (T-O-P-L-E-S-S; high five if you get that reference) can is fed down the line to await a CO2 purge and then the beer fill.  In the MadTree system, two wands put a small burst of CO2 into the can to purge out the unwanted oxygen; CO2 is heavier than O2 – thus the O2 is pushed out when filling.  Then two wands pump the beer in front the bright tank into the cans.  Thanks to the CO2 burst, foaming is minimized as is the exposure to harmful oxygen.  The filled can then moves down the line and a dispenser spits out two sealed lids to float on top of the beer.

Sorry to disappoint some of you, but there aren’t any widemouth or other air inducing doohickeys to help you chug this beer.  Have some respect!

The lid rests atop the now full can and passes into a laser-guided sealer.  The can is spun at a high speed as a press compresses the outer edge of the can to the lid, all the while spraying a little beer out (a sad waste, I know).  In about one to one and half seconds, the can is sealed and on its way to a water bath to rinse off any spilled/sprayed beer.  Boom.  Process done.  Check out the video below of Canny Rogers in action!

Beer me!

The next logical question is “Where can I get it?!”  There are a few venues lined up for the immediate future with plans to expand as capacity, production, and capital do the same.  However, here’s where to go if you gotta have it.

  • The Brewery: Your best bet is to swing by the brewery itself.  The taproom will be open in about two weeks to serve beers on draft as well as six-packs to go ($9.99 each).  If you can’t wait for the taproom, you can probably stop by during the day and catch Kenny, Jeff, or Brady there to hook you up.
    5164 Kennedy Ave, Cincinnati OH 45213
  • Great American Ball Park: Yep!  The hometown team will be supporting a hometown brewery.  Look for cans bright green cans of PsycHOPathy at the park where other real beers are sold.  Fifteen cases were sent down for Opening Day so make sure you get some if you’re going to the game!  Sell the place out on day one!  I know what I will be drinking all spring, summer, and fall down at the park!  More detailed info here from BeerQuest ABV about locations and selections.
  • Jungle Jim’s: It should start hitting store shelves in mid-April so check in often or keep it tuned here to find out when it becomes available.

That’s all I know for now but things are sure to change as word gets out and demand increases.  I can already read the headlines of the Great Cincinnati Beer Riots of 2013…

What’s next at MadTree

I already alluded to it above but their taproom is set to open on April 13th.  It’s a gorgeous place with lots of great high-top tables and a long bar with plenty of space.  There is a big screen TV to catch all the great sporting events, political debates, awful reality TV shows, and probably cartoons if you come in when some of the MadTree saplings are around.  In addition to canned and draft beer, you can pick up T-shirts, can coozies, and some kick ass glassware with the MadTree logo.  Cash and credit cards are happily accepted.

Their Sprye (Spring Rye Ale) is making its way to the distributor as we speak and should be hitting your favorite local bars and restaurants very soon.  This is a REALLY damn good beer so make sure you look for it.

I also spied about six bourbon barrels with Axis Mundi aging away in the warehouse.  That should lead to some really tasty beverages later this year!

That’s all I have for now… enjoy some other still shots from the first day of canning.

Mike Stuart

Craft beer enthusiast and hombrew dabbler. Part-time writer, sometimes funny.

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