MAD designer freak, Derrit Derouen, and I spent a couple of days in Tampa, Florida in early February. We were visiting the Suncoast to witness the birthing of our Intuition Ale Works (Jacksonville, FL) can designs into real, live aluminum cans. The site of said birthing was the Ball Metals canning plant in Tampa.
We were originally scheduled for a pre-production meeting at the plant on Wednesday. At this meeting we’d review the ink drawdowns and the procedure for proofing the cans when the run occurred on Thursday. Mother Nature decided we should leave Austin an hour late on Wednesday morning causing us to miss our connection to Tampa and thus pushing the meeting back to first thing Thursday morning. Oh well.
Arriving at 4:30 Wednesday afternoon (rather than 11:30 Wednesday morning) put us in Tampa just in time for Happy Hour! Good friend and beer freak, John Hendry, met us at the palatial La Quinta and guided us to Cigar City Brewing.
Now, it was Wednesday afternoon, but I think I was expecting a bit more of a crowd. Good for us, though, because it made getting our beer samplers easier. We sipped on an impressive array of samples from the brewery and can say they were worthy of the buzz the brewery received at the 2011 GABF.
From Cigar City, it was on to Datz Deli, an awesome little gastropub, where we met up with Intuition’s Ben Davis. Super beer selection and and groovy menu. A great way to top off the evening. Our Thursday morning meeting was going to come early so, after chowing down, we called it a night.
The folks at the Ball Metals plant have this can printing thing down. Go figure. This plant produces around 8,000,000 (eight million) cans a day! They make cans for Miller/Coors, Coca-Cola and others. I was impressed that they would roll out the red carpet like they did for a small craft beer can run.
Quality Assurance Manager Ron McCauhey and Quality Assurance Supervisor Joe Gutierrez were cordial and bent over backwards to make sure we got the print job we were looking for. Kudos to Ball graphics guy, Greg Martin, for his help getting our colors right. All in all, a most excellent experience. Ben’s cans are now in Jacksonville and he has his first batch of Peoples Pale Ale canned and on sale.
In celebration of the successful day, our beer tour guide John met up with us in St. Petersburg Beach for a sunset beer at a little beach bar (I cannot recall its name). But I do remember that we got two Sierra Nevada Pale Ales and a Miller Lite for $8.00. Nice! From there it was back towards town and stops at The Burg and World of Beer. We finished off the evening with a grouper sandwich at Harvey’s on 4th Street.
Thanks to Intuition and Ben Davis for working with us to design his first cans, and to the good folks at Ball metals for making the process painless, and to John Hendry for his expert guidance in Tampa and St. Pete.
Our next adventure in canning should come in the next couple of weeks as we finally get the Hops and Grain Brewing (Austin, TX) cans printed. I’ll report on that when it happens.
The Mission: Fly to Tampa to oversee the first production run of Intuition Ale Works cans.
The Goal: Get the cans produced so Intuition could be Florida’s first craft beer in cans.
Ben Davis, Owner and Brewmaster at Intuition Ale Works
Derrit Derouen, Can Designer. The MAD House
Ron McCaughey, Quality Assurance Manager, Ball
Joe Guiterrez, Quality Assurance Supervisor, Ball
John Hendry, Tour Guide Deluxe, St. Petersburg, FL
Yours Truly: Herder of Cats, The MAD House
Outcome: Mission and Goal accomplished. First Florida craft brew in cans. Happy damn client.
Photos courtesy Intuition Ale Works, Jacksonville, Florida USA