Then you have ones that are slightly bigger than that and only slightly more advanced than that technology. Then you have ones that do 700 cans a minute, but there's very little in between so it's really a financial step up to invest in the larger, faster equipment.
For us, it was of those things where we thought that there were lots of places that people would like to be able to drink craft beer where a bottle is not a good idea: rafting, kayaking, skiing, back-country skiing, golfing or watching sports in stadiums where bottles just aren't allowed. Cans gave us the opportunity to offer our customers good, fresh beer in places where they wanted to be able to drink good, fresh beer.
We all owe Dale a debt of gratitude for being bold enough to consider this notion. Maybe because we're in Colorado and we see Dale regularly, but I kind of just got this bee in my bonnet and said "Do cans." People thought that was crazy, and that's one of those CEO moments where you say "No, I want to do cans, let's get started on it." Sometimes I think pioneers get arrows in the back and sometimes they're rewarded with some kind of competitive advantage.
Speaking of Dale, he and Oskar Blues are coming out to the Asheville area with you ...
He's already there. He's the first one.
Is it comforting to have one of your craft brewing neighbors come along for the ride, or is there a bit of competition to make it work out there?
There is certainly competition out in the marketplace, and we all know that. I'm sure Ken would describe it in his own way, as would Dale, but my feeling is that you kind of have to put those feelings in a box and, when you're together, ignore that.
I tell my people that I believe in competition and believe in them going out there and doing the best job they can, but I also believe it's a long life and you want to make sure you feel happy about the way you're living it. We try to be friendly and helpful and supportive of one another and we are not interested in talking smack about people.
Dale and Ken and I were just on a panel together in Durham, N.C., and then I spent the beginning of the week with Ken at the Brewers Association board meeting and then we joke that we've got to stop meeting like this. "How can I miss you if you won't go away?" And we also enjoy each other's company.
I don't think there's a rivalry except as might be expressed through healthy competition in the marketplace, and that's perfectly acceptable.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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