The Sour IPA, a digitally printed can, and the wolf

Visiting Dr. Brauwolf and filling the Canmakers Can of the Year 2022

Australia, a few years back: a Ph.D. student in Science steps fortunately into the craft world: there I understood how fresh beer tastes better than the mass-produced one.

Fast forward to today and we are in a quite cozy brewery called Dr. Brauwolf after the name of that student: Stefan Wolf, Ph.D. 

Dr. Brauwolf can legitimately be called one of the most rad breweries in Central Switzerland, with a good mix of delicious beers, wicked designs, hype location, and a flavored community always ready to join parties and pioneering initiatives. Stefan, following this path,  trusted digitally printed cans with No Minimum Order Quantities since the beginning, deciding to pour his delicious Sour IPA into packaging without plastic sleeves and tags. Plus, this very own beer became quite successful for the brewer as for the designer: "Philip designed it – it is still Stefan talking – he is the mind behind our labels and visual identity. You can see his art on almost all our beers but thanks to digital printing he found a new dimension with that matte background and glossy metallic finish, making the wolf pop out even more." It really does, and the final recognition for this artwork came out from the Canmaker Magazine itself and it feels good to be there celebrating such an innovative product.

Filling the Canmaker Can of the Year 2022

But, let’s be serious, the main protagonist of the filling is the filler itself: yes, the container can be, and it is, cool, but a creamy croissant is basically useless without a tasty Nutella jump, so a can is just a wonderful exercise without its golden liquid inside. That’s what we are doing here today, we are filling wonderful pieces of art with a special recipe: "This is a sour IPA, a beer that has always had a solid following base" – it is Michael talking, Dr. Brauwolf’s Master Brewer coming from Australia. "This time we slightly changed the hops though, instead of using the one called Golden I used El Dorado which gives a bit more of a floral taste that blooms together with the natural crunchy sourness".

And, if I have to be completely sincere, its thick yellow color makes the perfect match with the deep black of the can, it is just all pretty special.

But not everything comes super smooth during the canning phase: "there will always be some nerves on filling days"– still Michael – "because when the beers stay in the tank, in its natural habitat, nothing really can happen, but during the transfer, things can go wrong: microparts can get in contact with the liquid plus it can be exposed to light and oxygen, so in those moments everybody just need to be focused and sure that everything it’s right.

Dr. Brauwolf cans into boxes (with labels)

Light and oxygen, those the elements that make me come up with the classic newbie question. What’s better for beers: cans or bottles?

"In general, cans are better for beers – Michael is quite sure – Because the two biggest issues with the beer going spoiled are oxygen and light – here you go – and a can is for sure better sealed than a crown-capped bottle and for light is a no brainer, into a can the liquid is way more protected than into a bottle.

That’s a question I need to ask also to the other players of the filling, the fillers themselves: Moritz and Valentin from Lab 63, basically the most famous mobile fillers in Switzerland: "beers in cans are just better, more protected, easier to cool down, lighter for transport and they fit better on my beer fridge. But we are kind of coming from the obvious side because we went straight to cans when we started this activity". 

Starting the activity: "We are actually quite emotional for this filling –It is Valentin – because at the beginning of our journey, the first beer we canned was the Dr. Brauwolf Sour IPA, this exact beer, and it was the first time for us but also the first mobile canning happening in Switzerland. And now, three years later, we are here filling exactly the same beer into an award-winning can.

If for Valentin and Moritz this filling is so special, some notes of emotion can also be visible in Stefan’s eyes: "This design is just beautiful. You can see all the details, the matte finishing is even more special now that the can is dry, and we are so happy to have used this technology in such an important beer for Dr. Brauwolf. And it is incredible the amount of possibility that Nomoq gives us brewers to present and distribute our products.

The Dr. Brauwolf Portfolio

I go back home on my bike with a backpack full of beers – I have the feeling that my fridge will no more be empty, like Moritz's one – but also with a satisfied heart: serving the brewing community has something special not only for my inextinguishable thirst but because there is something special in the people populating it. And one thought goes to the last question I asked Stefan: "what's the next design you will digitally print? "

Stefan: "I don’t know yet, but I know where it is going to come: the sketch circle, where artists and illustrators seat down together at the end of every month to exchange, pitch, and present their coolest sketches. We printed already a label coming from there, but our next digitally printed should also come from the talented artists seating on that circle, and we are already excited to see what’s next. 

And so do we.

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