23 November 2009
I was lucky enough to be invited down this afternoon to witness the end of an era at Lion Brewery. As of the end of today’s production schedule, Lion is ceasing the use of 16oz returnable bottles. It was exciting to see the last batch of bottles going through the soaker, and the last batch of bottles being filled with Stoney’s Beer. It’s always an amazing trip inside the Lion Brewery, but I was lucky enough to see the soaker in action. As Darel put it, the soaker is an amazing Rube Godberg-type machine that cleans bottles, removes old labels and prepares them for filling. This machine is the size of a house and has been in action since 1964 at the Lion. It was incredible to witness the giant gears, shafts and arms as the soaker swallows empty bottles and kicks out sparkling clean bottles.
After today, the Lion will begin bottling in 12oz non-returnable bottles. The soaker will eventually be removed, the line changed and even a building addition will be added to allow Lion to implement a canning line in the future, so stay tuned for details on that.
The photos below show 1) The used bottles being organized to go into the soaker, 2) The bottles being loaded into the soaker chains, 3) the bottles entering the soaker, 4) The clean bottles exiting the soaker, 5) the back of the filling line before the pasteurizer, and 6) the bottling lines running the last of the 16oz returnables-- Stoney’s Beer.
Returnable bottles go way back for the Lion Brewery so it is certainly a historical day for local brewing. Thank you to Darel and the rest of the guys at Lion for inviting me down to witness it for myself.
**As an added bonus…be SURE to tune in tomorrow for some more exciting news from Lion.