Churchkey Can Co. On Hiatus

Here’s a script that won’t be worked into any new Entourage episodes anytime soon — but it is a sobering reality for anyone hoping to launch a new craft beer company.

Adrian Grenier — (Entourage character name: Vincent Chase) — starts a beer company (Churchkey Can Co.) with partner Justin Hawkins, garners some early media attention and launches his suds at popular, hipster-filled speakeasies in Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Manhattan.

But six months into production, the company hits a snag and is forced to pull all of its freshly made beer from the marketplace.

The idea was to revive the flat top steel can, a package that hadn’t been used in the beer industry in more than 50 years. But quality control issues and what Hawkins described as “bulging cans” forced Churchkey’s founders to halt production last October.

“The integrity of the beer was being compromised,” Hawkins said. “The canning line wasn’t as efficient as we needed it to be, the pressure inside the can was too high and we ultimately had to pull the beer off shelves.”

But even though the company hasn’t produced a single drop of beer in more than 10 months, Hawkins said the Churchkey executive team is still intact and evaluating ways to solve the canning issues. One solution would be to move away from the steel package altogether, but that’s something Hawkins said he’s not quite ready to do.

“That’s definitely been a conversation, but it is extremely important to our brand that we get it right.” he said. “It was the standard can for more than 30 years so there shouldn’t be any reason why we can’t do it. We are currently trying to find another brewing and canning partner, which has been difficult because we are trying to bring back a package that hasn’t been used in so long.”

Churchkey had been producing its beers as part of a contract agreement with Two Beers Brewing in Seattle, Wash.. Two Beers has since taken over the space where Churchkey was making beer and launched Seattle Cider Company.

Despite the challenges, Hawkins is hopeful that the Churchkey brand will return to retail shelves within the next six months.

“We are optimistic and moving forward,” he said. “Consumers really seemed to like the beer, the brand and the can. We just have to figure it out.”

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