Canning your own beer is an excellent way to expand your reach, raise brand awareness, and increase the value of each customer who walks through your door. In order to keep your canning operation running smoothly, proper maintenance and care of your machinery is vital. Whether you’re expanding your existing canning line or simply taking care of the one you already have, we have a few tips to keep the machinery moving and the beer flowing.
1. Clean Often
Beer can be messy, so proper cleaning is a must. Proper and regular cleaning will not only help your equipment work better, but it will ensure a higher-quality beverage. A messy canning setup is a maintenance issue at best and a health code violation at worst, so be sure to follow all the proper cleaning protocols for your equipment.
2. Perform Preventative Maintenance
The best way to fix a maintenance issue is to avoid it altogether. Set up a maintenance schedule and assign responsibility, either to one of your in-house staff or to a contract maintenance worker who can come in and check that everything is working properly. Keep the tools and parts you need on hand so that nothing is missed.
3. Keep Spare Parts on Hand
Every machine breaks down eventually, and when it does, you’ll need spare parts to fix it. Rather than waiting around to order new parts when something goes wrong, take stock of the pieces of your machinery that are most likely to fail. Start with anything made of rubber or plastic and anything that undergoes a lot of movement or stress, then order at least one spare of each part and keep it somewhere safe. When a part does fail, you or your mechanic will be able to get it back up and running in no time.
4. Hire a Mechanic
You might know the beer business inside and out, but the machinery that cans your beer is another matter altogether. Canning lines need troubleshooting and maintenance by someone who understands the inner workings of the machinery, so it’s worth your time and money to hire a mechanic who has the skills to keep your machinery running.
If you can get help from someone certified by the manufacturer, that’s even better, but they may not be available on short notice. Having someone you can call whenever there’s a problem is a necessity.
5. Watch the Weather
Most canning systems are kept in warehouses with minimal HVAC installed, so temperatures can fluctuate significantly from summer to winter. In winter, allowing lines to freeze can rupture pipes, seize lubricants, and damage valves, while in summer, extreme heat can disrupt flow meters and gas injection systems.
Every year in spring, we receive a spike in complaints from our clients about excessive foaming in their cans. Even a few degrees can make a difference — beer canned at 32 to 33 degrees fahrenheit will be stable, while beer at 35-37 degrees can foam excessively, wasting product and adding to your cleaning issues.
If you store your equipment in a facility that drops below freezing or rises above around 99 degrees, you’ll need to move it to a more room-temperature location and let the temperature stabilize for at least a day before running liquid through it. Parts expand and contract differently, so you risk equipment failure if you start running cold liquid through hot metal parts.
6. Keep Records
One of the most beneficial things you can do for your mechanic and your manufacturer is to keep detailed records of everything you do with your machinery. Data to track might include:
- Specific gravity and ABV of every batch you create
- Whether you’re using CO2 or nitrogen
- Size and shape of cans
- Accessories like palletizers or labelers
- Times and temperatures of each batch
- Beverage conditions at time of packaging
Even factors like altitude or barometric pressure can affect the way your beer behaves. If you do run into a problem, you’ll be able to tell the mechanic or manufacturer the exact conditions that led up to the problem.
Talk to Twin Monkeys
Canning your own beer is an excellent step to grow your brewery, but it’s not a step that should be taken lightly. If you’re ready to start canning or expand your existing capabilities, Twin Monkeys can help. We offer a wide array of customizable canning machines for any budget, space constraints, or canning capacity. Get in touch today!