Nestled in the overgrown back corner of my farm is a small reminder of the past: a personal landfill started by a long-gone previous owner. Such "dumps" are not uncommon. Well before there was weekly garbage pickup, farmers either burned their trash or created mini-landfills like mine.
Besides being an easy way for a child to earn a trip to the emergency room, these trash piles are littered with ancient bottles, pots and other artifacts that have yet to succumb to the elements. Dig deep enough and you'll also find some old-school steel beer cans lacking the more-modern pull tab and featuring two puncture holes on top.
Those holes were created by a small metal tool called a "churchkey." They used to immensely popular back-in-the-day, but have since become obsolete as drinkmakers moved away from flattop cans and embraced plastic and aluminum. For Adrian Grenier, however, such obsolescence is a golden opportunity.
Together with former Nike designer Justin Hawkins and two longtime home brewers, the "Entourage" actor has launched Churchkey Can Co.
“All we wanted to do was open a can of beer the way our grandpa opened a beer,” Grenier said at TechCrunch Disrupt this week. What that translates to is a 100 percent steel can devoid of the usual pull tab. Instead, one requires an old-fashioned 1930s churchkey that punctures the can.
Grenier told audiences that the new brand allows customers to enjoy the experience of opening a car of beer and escape a culture focused on “the mass-produced consumer society.”
Reception to the first 1,000 cases of Churchkey has been overwhelmingly positive. The company sold out in four days. According to TechCrunch
, investors from Facebook and Zynga (among others) have already thrown capital behind the fledgling brand.
Naturally, with Grenier’s green background, Churchkey Can Co. is focused on making the product as sustainable as possible. According to the site
, steel cans have a much higher recycling rate (64 percent in 2008 vs. 54 percent aluminum beverage cans) and can be recycled indefinitely.
The company also uses 100 percent recycled steel for its cans, as well as six-pack packaging made from 100-percent recycled chipboard and printed with sustainable vegetable-based inks.
Look for more Churchkey to hit stores in Seattle and Portland, Ore., shortly. Have a look at the company's promotional video for the brew below.