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Craft brewery tanks pass through Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor

Craft brewery tanks made in Europe passed through the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor on their way to Bell's Brewery in Michigan.

A Bell's 12-pack arrived at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor last week — a 12-pack of 25,353-pound brewery tanks that stretch 40 feet long and can hold 800 barrels of beer.

The M/V Federal Mackinac shipped in a dozen stainless steel brewery tanks that each can hold 198,400 pints of beer and collectively weigh 304,235 pounds, according to the Indianapolis-based Ports of Indiana. The cargo headed from the deepwater port on Lake Michigan to Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, a Midwestern favorite best-known for its popular Two-Hearted Ale and Oberon Ale.

"When you consider our port's strategic location in the U.S., its logistical access to ocean vessels, river barges, rail and truck transportation, and our experienced cargo-handling services, our port is uniquely qualified to handle oversized cargoes," port director Ian Hirt said. "For large shipments of beer tanks, wind turbines or machinery, shippers can realize significant savings by keeping the cargo on water as long possible, rather than dealing with the hassle, permitting and costs to drive oversized loads to or from the East Coast or West Coast. Having ocean access in Indiana is a tremendous advantage for Midwest shippers."

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Federal Marine Terminals used a crane to lift the massive tanks, which will be loaded onto heavy-haul semi-trucks for the journey to one of Michigan's best-known craft breweries.

The stevedore, along with workers from the International Longshoremen's Association and the International Union of Operating Engineers, unloads "heavy lift" and "project cargoes" that have become increasingly common at the port.

Over the last three years, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has unloaded dozens of brewery tanks in five different shipments from Europe, the center of the brewery tank manufacturing industry.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.