In a drafty warehouse on the outer east side, Owen Lingley resembles a mad genius devising a doomsday device. He searches for a lost washer, reattaches a monitor, and generally fusses over a stainless steel, Rube Goldberg-like contraption. Lingley’s year-old company, Craft Canning and Bottling, trucks the ungainly Wild Goose MC-250 from the warehouse to small breweries across Oregon that want to sell beer in cans but can’t afford (or don’t want) assembly lines of their own.
“I saw craft beer moving toward cans,” Lingley says. “I put together a plan, and off we went.” He sank his life savings into the Wild Goose.
A veteran of the packaging business, Lingley chose his moment (and his technology) well. Many craft brewers are gravitating away from glass bottles toward cans, for environmental, economic, and quaffability reasons. Aluminum carries a lower carbon footprint, gets recycled at a higher rate, and weighs less—and thus is cheaper to ship. It seals out light to avoid the dreaded skunk factor. And, of course, Lingley notes: “You don’t have to worry about aluminum breaking.”