As a consumer cracking open a 12oz can of Irish Death and enjoying the dark elixir with each sip you may ponder how exactly the beer got into it’s package. I am here to tell you the untold story of your loyal packager and just what one goes through to get these wonderfully delicious brews to your mouth holes.
At Iron Horse Brewery, packagers put their blood, sweat, and tears into our beers. Let me clarify, actual blood, sweat and tears DO NOT go into the brews, even though that would be really metal! We run all of our beautiful machines; canner, kegger, and bottler to capacity. That equates to about 400 ⅙ barrels, 350 ½ barrels, 1500 cases of 22 ounce bottles, and 2000 cases of 12 ounce cans a week! With this amount of beer going through our machines we are bound to have problems. But we do not cower in the face of adversity at Iron Horse Brewery. Through patience, busting knuckles, cursing, and perseverance we not only fix the machines with the quickness of a cheetah but with the finesse of a peacock.
Problems are happening on a daily basis making packaging like fighting the Vietcong in ‘65 (thank you to all veterans for your service). The type of Packaging Technicians we hire are a special breed. Packaging that amount of beer is as monotonous as watching paint dry. It takes a strong person, not only physically but mentally and spiritually. Physically, this job will make you a barrel chested behemoth. Lifting half barrels over your head and flinging full cases of 22oz bottles to and fro would make the biggest of bodybuilders quiver in their tight show underwear. Mentally you have to be as strong as Mother Teresa and as focused as a champion chess player. With the machines being pushed to their utmost limit, vigilance is the name of the game and the game can be real, real hard. As far as spiritually, you pray to whatever deity will help you in times of intensity. Machines are broken down, orders need to be filled, truck drivers appeased, and the Head Brewer must be kept full and happy. Praying in any form, whether to God, Allah, or the Beer Lords of the ancients is always encouraged.
At the end of the day you get to wipe your brow and be proud to not only be part of one of the most kick-ass industries but one of the greatest small businesses. Packaging may put the “Iron” in Iron Horse Brewery but the sales teams, management and marketing crew all work together, drink together, curse and joke together. And when all’s said and done we are making beer and what could be more fun than that?