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Cans of Canton brewery’s suds to soon be available on store shelves

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CANTON — It looks like an assembly line in miniature, a machine connected to a large metal tank with plastic tubing. Beer flows through the tube to an aluminium can, then a lid is dropped on top and sealed with a quick spin.

One down, 11,999 to go.

The St. Lawrence Brewing Co. began canning its beer for the first time last week. Three varieties soon will be available on store shelves across St. Lawrence County.

The Canton brewery hired We Can Canning Solutions, a Pennsylvania company.

The mobile canning company packed up its equipment and thousands of cans in a trailer and drove to Canton to begin the process Friday, and worked all through Saturday.

The beer will be sold in four-packs, with a suggested retail price of $8.99, according to Brewmaster Stephanie M. Russo. The packs soon will be available at Kunoco, Potsdam’s IGA and a handful of other stores.

The brewery canned 500 cases, or 3,000 four-packs: 150 cases each of its Maple Porter and Barnstormer Pilsner and 200 of its bestseller, Skinny Dipper IPA.

We Can Canning Solutions will return about once a month, according to Ms. Russo.

“A huge amount of our sales are going to go into the canning market,” she said.

Until now, its beer could be found only in bars and in the brewery’s own tasting rooms. Getting it onto store shelves opens up a much larger market, according to owner Kenneth M. Hebb.

“The majority of beer is sold to consumers in packages, so by being able to sell packages to customers on store shelves, it really increases our market penetration,” he said.

Mr. Hebb said he eventually wants canned beer to account for 45 to 50 percent of sales.

Eventually the brewery plans to install its own canning machine and handle things itself, but this is still a year down the road, according to Ms. Russo.

For now, brews like Skinny Dipper Ruby Canoe and Barnstormer will remain scarce outside the north country, but Mr. Hebb said it will not be long before they can be found elsewhere.

“I’d really like to create a really strong, consistent presence, first in our home market area,” he said.

However, the brewery already is looking toward bars in Rochester and Syracuse as potential customers.

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