Julia and Ken Rosenthal were thrilled.
The first canning run of Hop Bet Red IPA and Clearwater Honey Cream from their Pair O’ Dice Brewing had finished, and sales from the brewery and distribution to store shelves would soon begin.
“The canning went beautifully,” Julia said. “Too beautifully I suppose.”
The last cans rolled off the line late Thursday night.
The first inkling of a problem came the next morning, when some of the guys running the canning line, who had taken home a few six-packs, noticed beer on the bottom of their refrigerator shelf.
They informed the Rosenthals, who promptly checked for any leaking cans at the brewery.
“We went into the cooler to find several cans with beer dribbling down the side.” Julia said. “As we started to do visual inspections on the Hop Bet Red IPA that afternoon, we found that of the initial 14 cases checked only two cases were considered ‘good.’ Then, as those ‘good’ cases warmed up, we noticed more leakage.”
After further inspection and testing, it became clear that both runs of beer had the leaking issue, and by 6 p.m. Friday, it became obvious that those cans would never see the market, and would be dumped.
The news went out on the Clearwater brewery’s Facebook page early Saturday morning:
“We are disappointed to announce that our release of cans has been delayed until next month. Quality is our number one priority and yesterday a seaming issue was discovered that affected the majority, if not all, of the cans we produced this week. This resulted in extremely high dissolved oxygen levels in the beer greatly reducing the shelf life. We stand by our mission to produce a high quality product and therefore will not be selling any of these first run of cans in the tasting room or sending any out to distribution.”
“We never questioned what had to be done, but it was very upsetting to say the least,” Julia said. “We are a small brewery, bootstrapping our way along so the financial and employee morale blow was huge. All of our staff was so excited and worked so hard to get to this point, and it felt like a kick in the face.”
The subsequent outpouring of support from the local craft beer community overwhelmed the Rosenthals. Customers expressed their sympathy. Fellow brewers offered equipment and expertise for the next canning run. People even offered to buy cases of the beer to help offset the financial loss for the brewery.
But even though the beer inside the containers still is good, for now, the oxidation issue will quickly affect the quality, so even selling it to people who are aware of the problem means that within a short time, there would be product “out there” that is not of the quality the Rosenthals intended.
Another idea formed. Since the beer would need to be dumped and the cans destroyed, why not make a party out of it? And at the same time, give those offering support and encouragement a chance to follow through in a tangible manner.
Hence, the Crush the Cans Party was born.
- Any beer consumed must be consumed (responsibly) on premises. Remaining cans must be poured down the drain, and the can crushed and put into the recycling bin.
- You can take a can or two home as souvenirs, but it must be emptied at the brewery.
- All pop-tabs need to be removed to donate to a local Ronald McDonald House fundraising program. In case you were wondering why only pop-tabs, from the RMcDH website: “Although the whole aluminum can is valuable, the tab is much cleaner and easier to collect in large quantities than whole cans. The tab of a standard soda can is made of high quality, high-grade aluminum. By itself, it doesn’t mean much, but when you pull together, pop-tabs add up and become a valuable donation to your local Ronald McDonald House.”
In addition, anyone who wants to sponsor a case but can’t make it to the event can do so remotely. Julia promises that Ken will dump the remotely sponsored cases via video. Click here to remotely sponsor a case.
The money from the sponsored cases will go toward helping pay for Pair O’ Dice’s next canning run, scheduled for October 7-8.
“We need to buy more beer ingredients and Ken wants to buy some QA equipment as well, such as a micrometer so we can measure the seams ourselves,” Julia said.
Those cans should be available for purchase in the tasting room on October 9, with cases sent to the distributor the next week.
Meanwhile, the Crush the Cans Party is shaping up to be a good time that will help one of the Tampa Bay area’s newer and already well-respected craft breweries recover from a setback that a more well-established business would be better able to absorb.
“I’m sure we’ll have fun coming up with some creative ways to crush the cans as well,” Julia said.