SHERIDAN — Thanks to the recent installation of a canning line in the back of the popular brewery, fans of The Black Tooth Brewing Company will have another means by which to enjoy Sheridan’s native beer come June.
Following a lengthy planning process that entailed both logistical and regulatory hurdles, workers at the Broadway facility began canning their Wagon Box Wheat, Saddle Bronc brown ale, Indian Paintbrush Ale (IPA) and Bomber Mountain Amber earlier this week.
As employees hurriedly manned the canning line Thursday morning, Black Tooth owner Tim Barnes said the new equipment will allow the company to further expand its reach into new realms of the Sheridan community.
“It gives guys a chance to have (the beer) on the golf course, at the pool, on a boat,” he said.
Previously, Black Tooth beer had only been available to take out of the brewery via glass growlers. Cans, however, provide for a better, more portable product, Barnes said.
While initially the cans will only be available for purchase inside the taproom, Barnes said Black Tooth hopes to begin distributing them to Wyoming retailers sometime in the future.
For now, though, Black Tooth management said the decision to invest in the newly acquired canning line was still a worthwhile endeavor.
“It just (wasn’t) available in our area,” Brew Master Travis Zeilstra said. “It seems like a good fit for Sheridan.”
Zeilstra added that aside from the beer’s newfound portability, the product itself stands to benefit since cans, unlike bottles, prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from coming into contact with the beer and affecting its flavor.
As excited as he may be to see the new equipment in use, Barnes said the process of bringing the new canning line to Sheridan was anything but easy.
About eight months of planning and administrative regulations stood in the way of its final implementation.
With that behind him, however, Barnes said the new technology will allow Black Tooth to run an even stronger operation.
“It’s certainly more cost-effective, and all of the big guys in the craft beer industry have introduced cans,” he said.
In keeping with the brewery’s local orientation, Barnes purchased his cans — about a quarter million of them — from a company in Worland and the canning line itself from a company in Colorado.
“We want to keep as much of that (investment) money local as possible,” he said.
And while, to start, the company only plans to spend two to three days per month manning the canning operation, Barnes and Zeilstra are both hopeful that demand will one day force them to dedicate more time to the process.
For the time being, Zeilstra said he’s happy simply spreading the word that Black Tooth beer is finally available in cans. The people he’s already told have responded enthusiastically to the news.
“They couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I think people have this perception that breweries that can are massive.”
And while certainly not a massive operation, Barnes and Zeilstra said the recent implementation of the canning line is no doubt another step toward further growth and expanded visibility in the national craft beer scene.