In July of 2010, the Wind River Brewing Co located in downtown Pinedale, WY received its brand new canning line, making it the first and only brewery in the state of Wyoming to package its beer in cans, 16 oz. cans to be exact. Once reserved for inexpensive mass produced beers, canning is the latest trend in craft brewing mainly because of the fact that cans will not let any light through them, thus better preserving the beer’s taste and freshness. But the brewery also had another reason in mind when they chose cans over bottles… the fact that they are located in the state of Wyoming, where people come to enjoy the abundant natural resources and the many outdoor activities the region has to offer. Cans are much more transportable than bottles when you want to enjoy a quality brew during your time out in the wild. In addition, Wind River Brewing’s packaging is 100% recyclable, including the 4-pack rings, which are also re-usable.
Wind River Brewing Company is one of a few hundred small craft brewing companies operating in the country. They carefully brew beer using a 20-barrel (620 gallon) system. To put their size in perspective, Budweiser brewery will spill more beer in a day than they can brew in a day. The brewers use only the finest quality ingredients in the brewing process, many of which are imported from the U.K. and Germany. The water they use in the brewing process from the local glacier fed lake is very special, testing 98.9% pure, so they do not alter or adjust the chemistry of the water at all. All the beers they produce are Ales and the majority are English style ales.
The first beer that Wind River Brewing has put into a can is the Blonde Ale, a light, mild flavored beer, and their highest quantity selling beer by far. Richie Strom, Head Brewer at Wind River Brewing Co, says, “the Blonde Ale is very popular because it is a good introduction to craft beer while still being acceptable to domestic beer drinkers”. In fact, the Blonde Ale has won many awards in the last few years including 2006 Silver Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, 2008 Peoples Choice 1st Place at the Powell Plunge Beer Festival, 2009 Peoples Choice 1st Place at the Lander Beer Festival, and again in 2010, Peoples Choice 1st Place at the Lander Beer Festival. It is available in 16 oz. 4-packs and 12-packs and is sold at most Wyoming package stores as well as at the brewery.
The brewers are anxious to begin canning a second beer soon as well. While the beer style has yet to be chosen, it will likely be at the opposite spectrum from the Blonde Ale. Holding up the process is the amazing success of the Blonde Ale, which caused the brewery to unexpectedly hit capacity following the second order from the distributor, and they have been running full speed ever since just to keep up. In August the brewery began searching for more equipment in order to increase its brewing capacity. They plan to have equipment in place by October that will triple their current capacity and hopefully allow for additional beers to be canned.
While Wind River Blonde Ale is available in many stores throughout Wyoming, the
immediate goal for the brewery is to be able to readily supply all of Wyoming with more than one offering before entering into other markets. Ultimately, the goal is to supply the entire mountain region and beyond.