Crystal Lake Brewing wasted little time — opening not even a year ago — before jumping right into the craft beer canning trend by installing a new, state-of-the-art canning line at its beer production facility in Crystal Lake, IL. Built and installed by Wild Goose Canning, the line is capable of packaging well over 60 cases of beer per hour, allowing CLB to offer its four year-round flagship beers in consumer-friendly six packs.
“We started here in the tap room, last August,” said Chuck Ross, brewery co-founder. “Then last November, our beers became available in local bars and restaurants, so people could enjoy CLB brews when going out. Having easy-to-take-home six packs is the next big step for us, and lets craft beer lovers enjoy our beers at home, on the lake, or wherever they might go.”
Ryan Clooney, brewmaster at Crystal Lake Brewing, explains why the move makes sense for Crystal Lake: “We’re young, but we are committed to becoming a world-class regional brewery. Being able to produce packaged product in large volume is absolutely essential for us to achieve that goal.”
CLB chose canning over bottling for several reasons, the most important of which was the guarantee of product quality. Modern can liners ensure that the beer never touches the aluminum, while light, which is the chief contributor to beer degradation, is blocked entirely. Aluminum cans are also recyclable, can be taken to the beach or pool, pack more efficiently, and chill more quickly. Despite the common notion that bottles are associated with higher-end products, the company believes that cans are by far the better package, making them an easy choice for the forward-thinking brewery.
The new packaging has created one problem for the brewery: production capacity. To meet the demand created by the additional outlet for its products, as well as the expansion into Lake, Kane, Kendall, DuPage and Dekalb counties, CLB is expecting the delivery of three additional fermentation tanks, nearly doubling the existing capacity of the brewery. The new tanks should be installed and operational by the end of July.
“The upgrades are incredibly exciting,” said John O’Fallon, brewery co-founder. “But what really thrills us is the fantastic reception we’ve received from the community. Moving forward, having a great, locally produced beer in a convenient package is the next logical step toward becoming a brewery that beer enthusiasts across northern Illinois can be proud of.”