A selection of Freedom Brewery's canned beer

Based in the heart of Staffordshire, Freedom Brewery prides itself on producing beers people want to drink time and again, with a strong focus on sustainability. An established, independent brewery of 25 years, their existing on-trade business was severely threatened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of the UK’s pubs and restaurants for most of 2020.

Pre-Covid, Freedom supplied kegs of beer to pubs, and bottles to restaurants such as Nandos, with on-trade making up 94% of their business. While their original plan had been to build customer awareness through the on-trade business before launching an off-trade product, Covid forced them to accelerate their plans.

Freedom already had a bottling line, but were conscious of the higher risks of breakages and shipping costs. As it was clear that consumer trends were leaning heavily towards cans, they decided that this would be their best option going forward. After researching canning systems, they contacted Core Equipment in mid-2020 to discuss the CODI canning system.

We were able to source the equipment they needed quickly and the new canning line was installed in late August/early September 2020 by our in-house service engineers, who soon had them up and running, providing on-site training to the Freedom Brewery team.

Initially using prelabelled cans, they’ve since moved to labelling cans alongside this as the demand for their range of special beer increased. Again, we were happy to help and sourced a labeller to add to their existing line.

CODI CCL-45 Canning machine

Since launching their canned beer, Freedom have seen sales go from strength to strength. In the last 6 months they’ve sold around 1.6 million cans, and their new line has already paid for itself.

They now sell direct to the customer, primarily through their website and ecommerce sites such as Beerhawk. They’re also in talks to have their canned beer on the shelves of a large national bricks-and-mortar store chain.

Their canning line now runs for 15 hours a day, 5 days a week, with the team sometimes working weekend to keep up with demand. They’ve filled up to 150,000 cans in a week, and are looking to scale up to 220,000 cans a week soon.

One of the reasons Freedom were attracted to the CODI line is the ability to expand if our canned beer continues to sell. If needed, they can add a second filling line to our depalletiser, doubling the production rate.

Moving to canning has completely changed the day to day business. In terms of labour, they can pack and distribute two palettes of cans for every palette of bottles.

Matthew Willson (Managing Director at Freedom Brewery) says ““Moving to canning was a major shift for Freedom Brewery and has been the key to us surviving the challenges of Covid.”

The canning line at Freedom

  • 1 x fully automated depalletiser (CODI)
  • Can twist rinse systems for 330ml and 440 ml cans (CODI DPL-250)
  • Counter pressure filling machine (CODI CCL-45)
  • Outgoing conveyance system (CODI)
  • In-line wrap-around can labelling machine (ENOS C5000)