Oasthouse

In partnership with Oasthouse Engineering

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Oasthouse Engineering is a family-run business based in South Yorkshire, and has been providing canning and packaging solutions to the craft beer industry and beyond for the last 20 years. Since its inception, it’s worked on all things from dispense to machinery, but in the last five years has added the supply and printing of sleek, slim and standard cans from 150ml to 568ml, to its repertoire.

If you’re reading this magazine, you’ll be aware of the advantages canning offers, and the speed with which nostalgia for traditional yet inferior bottles has been overcome. Sam Morris, Oasthouse’s operations manager, seemed to have been ready for this transition, and says Oasthouse couldn't sell labelling machinery, if breweries didn't have cans to label in the first place. Since incorporating the supply of cans into the range of services offered, this aspect of the business has boomed, and is now its primary focus.

To give you an idea of the scale of the growth, Sam tells us that in the beginning, if Oasthouse sold a million cans a month that was a big deal; now it’s closing on a million cans a week, and a total of 45 million cans passed through the hands of its twenty team members last year alone. 

Oasthouse is a champion of the craft beer industry in a plethora of ways, but one unique feature of the business that strikes at a particularly tender place in my heart, is the flexibility they allow when it comes to order and supply sizes. “We supply everyone from the lone brewer who just wants a thousand cans to companies that want lorry loads” says Sam. “For us, the key thing was to be able to support the market with smaller pallet sizes.”


It doesn’t bear thinking about what our craft scene would be like if brewers, taking their first tentative steps towards our fridges, were unable to reach the bar because of something as fundamental as canning companies not having the systems in place to allow smaller orders to be fulfilled. 

In a similar vein, Oasthouse has recently invested just short of £3m in a printer that will allow designs to be printed directly onto whole cans, including the neck, heading off what Sam anticipates will be a challenge in the future, when European governments follow in the footsteps of Canada and the US, and crack down on packaging materials. 

Oasthouse’s Hinterkopf printer will be the first and only one of its kind in the UK and will mean breweries can order cans that arrive at the brewery already designed and printed in sustainable, UV cured inks. The minimum order for printed cans is just one can, scaling all the way up to 40,000, meaning the company is set up to grow with breweries as they expand. “It just means everyone has the same balance and the same opportunity,” says Sam, and confirms the printer will be up, running and accepting orders from September 2022. 

“Because it’s digital, it means there’s no platework, so you’re working with an infinite number of colours… it will do 12,000 DPI, so it will do up to photo quality, you can have faces there, scenery, anything you want.” An additional benefit of this printer is that it will tailor the pricing as design details are input, meaning that where budgets are of concern, you can play around with your ink costs and find something that works for each brewery's unique need. 

Oasthouse will supply cans to whoever and wherever needs them, and has recently sent orders to areas of Norway in the Arctic circle, Iceland, and Lithuania. “We’ll support wherever we can,” says Sam. “Shipping at the moment is difficult, but we find ways that keep the costs down. We know the can market is difficult, but that’s what we’re here for, we’re here to support as many people as possible.”

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