Thursday, April 7, 2011

Six-pack market around corner for Climax

What's got a dozen heads and can go through 1,440 beers an hour?

The bottling line acquired by Climax Brewing.

The new addition will put the Roselle Park brewery's ales and lagers in six-packs for the first time and will likely double brewing volume over the course of a year.

Six-packs will also give Climax a wider reach across the state, says owner Dave Hoffmann. He's already been talking to a South Jersey distributor.

The 12-head Criveller bottler, bought from Fegley Brew Works in Allentown, Pa., and recently moved into the brewery, can handle 12-, 16- and 22-ounce bottles, Dave says, and run at speeds of 60 to 80 cases per hour.

"I'm pretty stoked about this," he says. Climax did 1,000 barrels last year, and Dave thinks six-packs will enable him to double that.

Bottling could begin around July. Between now and then, new labels need to be made, as well as six-pack holders.

The next step is to sit down with Gregg Hinlicky, the Toms River commercial artist who has done all of Climax's brewery artwork, and work out revising the labels that have adorned the half-gallon growlers that Climax has plied the bottled beer market with for years.

Those jugs of ESB, IPA, Nut Brown Ale and German-style lagers assigned the family name (i.e. Hoffmann Oktoberfest, Helles, Doppelbock etc.) were filled using a counter-pressure filler that Dave, a machinist in a past career, built himself.

Climax's jugs were nearly unique on the store shelves (often the only other beer in that kind of packaging was Rogue's Dead Guy Ale). But sometimes the growler size gave buyers a moment of pause, thus turning six-packs (and even four-packs) of 12-ounce bottles into a critical market to hit.

So what happens to that six-head, counter-pressure filler that drove Climax's bottle lineup?

"I'm gonna keep it and use it to fill jugs when I start making root beer," Dave says.

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