Back when he was playing Vincent Chase on the HBO series ‘Entourage,’ actor and social entrepreneur Adrian Grenier was no stranger to catapulting a beverage brand into the spotlight.
Grenier — or at least his character — could regularly be seen drinking brands like Vita Coco or Avion Tequila. The show is over, but Grenier is still boosting a brand — only this time it’s his own craft beer company.
The recently launched, Seattle based, Churchkey Can Co. is the work of Grenier and co-founder Justin Hawkins, who met through mutual friends.
The company’s differentiation point is a flat top steel can package, requiring the use of a metal ‘church key’ opener to get to the liquid. (Don’t worry, one is included with each 6-pack purchase in case you left yours back in 1950).
“I think we have a really strong story,” said Hawkins. “We really hope the can and the beer will become a symbol for craft and artisanship. It’s something we are really passionate about.”
So passionate that the pair invested in six, 60-barrel fermentation tanks and a Cask Brewing canning system.
The beer is being brewed as part of a unique partnership with neighboring brewery Two Beers Brewing. Two Beers founder Joel VandenBrink brews the beer on his system. The product is then transferred into fermentation tanks located on the Churchkey premises next door. In exchange, Two Beers is able to use Churchkey’s canning line.
Churchkey is looking to early adopters and trendsetters as its target market. The company plans to leverage Grenier’s star power to help draw attention to the brand, but also knows that telling an authentic story will be critical to their success.
“I believe we are in a unique situation where we have more exposure to the brand, but at the end of the day we hope our customers love opening churchkey with the tools we provide,” Churchkey’s CEO, Ryan Sowards said.
The question, obviously is if consumers will go for the idea, packaging innovation has come a long way in 50 years.
Churchkey has signed on with Maletis Beverage and The Odom Corporation for distribution in the Pacific Northwest. The product will launch on April 15th.
The complete press release is below.
SEATTLE, WA – Back to simple times with simple tools that change an interaction into an experience. For the first time in nearly 50 years, craft beer lovers in Seattle and Portland can once again experience beer from the original flat top can. Offering a unique, handcrafted Pilsner-style beer in authentic 12-ounce steel cans, Churchkey Can Co. — a new craft beer-can company based in the Pacific Northwest — is on a mission to offer this forgotten beer experience once again.
“We are here to bring you a beer we are proud of, in a can we are honored to share,” said Co-founder and Creative Director Justin Hawkins. “It’s about the joy of drinking good beer — from the people you drink it with to where you drink it and, now, how you open it. We didn’t make these traditions, but are keeping them alive with Churchkey.”
Co-founded by Portland-native Justin Hawkins and actor Adrian Grenier, Churchkey Can Co. began as the desire to someday experience a great beer in a simple can as the generations before had. Quickly realizing the flat top can — introduced in 1935 and a standard in the beer industry until the pull-tab came to market in the mid-1960s — was all but a memory, Hawkins and Grenier set the wheels in motion to found Churchkey Can Co.
To get the flat top can just right, Churchkey turned to the Ball Corporation, the largest supplier of beer cans in the world and a company that played a key role in the evolution of the beer can. Made from highly recyclable steel, protecting the beer from both light and oxygen, the Churchkey flat top can provides an airtight seal and must be opened with a churchkey. This opener, which obtains its name from its similarity in style to the large old fashion keys formerly used to open a church, is used to punch two small triangular holes into the top of the can allowing for aeration and pouring of the beer.
Inside each can, craft beer lovers will find a delicious Pacific Northwest-brewed Pilsner-style craft beer. The recipe for which was originated by Portland-based home brewers Lucas Jones and Sean Burke — who have been crafting home brewed beer in their garages for many years, and are passionate about their beer and the community they cultivate with it — the Churchkey Pilsner is made using only the highest quality ingredients. The body of the beer comes from the light, grainy pilsner malt taste, accented by a smooth clean bitterness. The Saaz hop taste and aroma featured in the Churchkey Pilsner make for a uniquely complex, yet sessionable beer at 4.9 percent ABV and a 29 IBU.
To bring the beer to market, Churchkey Can Co. turned to Joel VandenBrink, a skilled craft brewer based out of Seattle. Head brewer at Two Beers Brewing Co, the first Washington brewery to produce 12-ounce cans, VandenBrink and his team embody the Churchkey philosophy. They love what they do and work hard to bring true craft beer to their community. As part of this unique partnership and friendship, Churchkey Can Co. works together with Two Beers Brewing to produce and package its Churchkey Pilsner.
Beginning April 15, Churchkey Can Co. Pilsner can be found at a variety of retailers and drinking establishments throughout Seattle and Portland, available for $9.99 per six-pack — with a churchkey opener included — and between $3-$5 at bars and restaurants. For a full list of bars, restaurants and retailers carrying Churchkey cans, visit www.ChurchkeyCanCo.com.
About Churchkey Can Co.
Launching in April 2012, Pacific Northwest-based Churchkey Can Co is a new craft beer-can company on a mission to reintroduce beer lovers to the original flat top steel can. For the first time in 50 years, Churchkey Can Company offers this forgotten beer experience once again. Because in the tradition of the great men and women before us, we know it’s worth the effort. Follow Churchkey Can Co on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, visit ChurchkeyCanCo.com.