Monday, July 29, 2013

Ballard brewing up a storm (Pt. 1): Hilliard's

    Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, in a northwest part of the city, has had a couple of well-established breweries for a number of years, Hale's and Maritime Pacific.  About a year and a half ago, a third one opened up: Hillard's Beer.  This brewery announces its presence with standout graphics:
Inside, a good-sized plant (15 bbl) turns out four styles to go into the 16-oz, cans, the brewery's primary product.  These styles are saison, amber, blonde and pilsner.  They also produce a pale, a stout, an IPA, and a curious hybrid called Chrome Satan (lager yeast in an ale recipe), for kegs only..  The canning line puts out 27 cans per minute.
I learned more about canning here.  The nearest can manufacturer doing the 16-oz. size is in Tennessee.  A minimum order is 150,000 cans, about a truckload.  When one of those truckloads arrives, they have to stack up can stock on every available flat space.  Hilliard's self-distributes in the Seattle area and Columbia Distributing delivers to more distant markets.
The aluminum can appears to be winning over a lot of craft beer consumers.  Most brewers canning today eased into it after establishing a reputation with draft beer.  The business plan at Hillard's is different in that cans were planned from the get-go.
(Visited 7/26/13)

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