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Canning systems: What’s the true cost?

At its core, beer isn’t all that expensive. The basic ingredients of water, grain, hops and yeast are plentiful and reasonably affordable. It’s the equipment required to brew and sell beer at a commercial level that comes with a much steeper price tag. That includes your canning system.  

From mash tuns to fermenters, brite tanks to keg washers there’s no shortage of equipment for a brewery to invest in. Not all costs, however, are created equally. It requires only a basic understanding of simple math to go shopping and purchase brewing equipment. Figuring out any additional costs–the true costs–of brewing equipment is a much more complex and nuanced equation. 

As Chris Leach, Northeast Sales Manager at Wild Goose Canning said in a recent episode of The Start A Brewery podcast, “The upfront costs are only part of the costs of owning a piece of equipment.”

There’s a lot to unpack in Leach’s statement, so let’s take a deeper dive into what exactly he means. Below, we’ll explore some of the other considerations that can have an impact on beer canning system costs. No matter who you purchase a canning system from, when it comes time to make that significant purchase you should be fully aware of its true impact on your bottom line. 

WG10 Dual Lane Evolution Series Canning System

CANNING SYSTEM STICKER PRICE

To fully understand what kind of investment goes into a canning line, let’s start with the sticker price. Be warned: We’re not going to pull any punches here. Beer canning systems are advanced, technological pieces of equipment that have been engineered to efficiently fill cans with consistency and ease. They are priced accordingly. Depending on their capacity and manufacturer, modern-day canning systems can have an upfront cost that range anywhere between $25,000 and $200,000 when purchased new. We’ll use that initial cost – let’s call it $100,000 for this discussion – as a baseline. 

NEW OR USED?

Faster than you can say “Craigslist,” breweries that begin shopping for beer canning systems are going to unearth a long list of used equipment for sale. No doubt, buying a used canning system can seem like an affordable and attractive option. But just like purchasing a used car, it’s caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.  Should you decide to go the used route, do so with your eyes wide open. Ask questions. Be nosy. Why is the owner putting it up for sale? What’s the machine’s service history? Is it a model that’s still easy to get replacement parts for? Is there somebody close by you can trust to service it? Is the warranty still valid? While it’s true that sometimes buying used equipment makes sense, it can often cost a lot more to get it installed, running, and properly maintained. The lifelong costs of a piece of used equipment often far outweigh the initial purchase price.  

TAX CONSIDERATIONS 

Good news! Buying a beer canning system can actually save you money. Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment for the current tax year — instead of writing off the purchase over the course of several tax years. 

To qualify under Section 179,  equipment can be new or used, as long as it’s new to you. If you purchase some equipment for your business but don’t use it until the following year (say, you buy it at the end of December but don’t use it until January), you’re only eligible to claim it for the first year you use it. 
Talk to your accountant, for sure, because the IRS often changes rules for how much business owners can claim as a deduction, but go into your purchase with the confidence in knowing there are tax advantages for buying equipment.

At Wild Goose, we can help you get started on owning your equipment. Contact us for more information about our financing options.  

YOUR REPUTATION MATTERS

We’ve also written about this before, but the quality of your canned product is a key driver of your brand’s position in a crowded and competitive marketplace. We know that canning machine quality has a direct impact on the end product you’re sending out the door. Without a doubt, you can lose customers and money if your beer that’s unleased out to the masses is underfilled, oxidized, or just flat. You want your product to taste like you intend when your customer cracks open a can. So do we. 

A canning line that offers flavor-protecting technologies like dissolved oxygen prevention technologies, fast cycle times and repeatable seaming will save you significant costs while building up brand equity.

BUY THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT FIRST

Do you know what really costs money? Not having the right equipment for the job at hand. Consider a carpenter who decides to build a house using an old-fashioned hammer rather than buying a new nail gun. How much time and energy does that cost? 

When it comes to beer canning, many folks will consider the differences between using the services of a mobile canning vendor or purchasing their own canning system and it’s important to consider the pros and cons of that debate before making a purchase. For many, owning their own canning line makes the most sense.

From the compact Gosling 2.0, now with an embedded screen for fast user interaction, to the Evolution series that grows with you, Wild Goose is here for every step of your craft packaging journey.

LEARNING CURVE

We’ll leave you with this last point. Figuring out what canning system is best for you and how much you want to spend on it is a personal decision. We get that. It requires research and consultation with your business plan, employees, and trusted advisors. Enlisting the help of industry professionals who have designed, installed and serviced canning lines around the globe can certainly streamline your decision process. In the end, that helps save you money. 

If you’re just starting to consider the purchase of canning equipment, if you debating a used canning system, or if you want to know how much you can expect to spend, please reach out to us. We’re here to help you can your beer and save money while you do it. 

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