When 3 Floyds debuted its flagship Alpha King American Pale Ale back in 1996, there were only about 1,000 breweries nationwide, as opposed to more than 7,000 today.
The pioneering 6.66 Alcohol by Volume beer that 3 Floyds describes as "a bold yet balanced American Pale Ale with slight caramel sweetness and aggressive citrus hoppiness" helped elevate 3 Floyds into one of the largest craft breweries in the United States and one of the top-ranked breweries in the world, also inspiring many of the local home brewers who went on to launch their own craft breweries in Northwest Indiana.
After 23 years, Alpha King will become available in cans for the first time now that the brewery has opened a second production facility in Munster.
3 Floyds Communications Director Sara White said 3 Floyds is now canning Alpha King and Gumballhead wheat beer at the former Whole Foods distribution center at 480 45th St. in Munster, which had sat vacant since Whole Foods moved its Chicagoland warehouse from Munster to Chicago's Pullman neighborhood last year. It's strictly a production facility, unlike the nearby brewpub, where 3 Floyds pours its hoppy beers and serves gourmet food against a backdrop of heavy metal music and bohemian art.
"No taproom or tours, just beer," White said.
The new canning brewery, about a mile north of 3 Floyds' brewpub and a half-mile from the Indiana-Illinois border, is canning Gumballhead in 12-ounce cans that will be sold in six-packs, and Alpha King in 16-ounce cans that will be sold in four-packs.
3 Floyds plans to sell both beers in cans year-round in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin. White said the cans should hit stores soon, probably in April.
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Both Gumballhead and Alpha King will continue to be sold in bottles as well.
The craft brewery's new canning facility also will can limited runs of beers that will be sold at its retail kiosk at 9750 Indiana Parkway, starting with a dry-hopped tart red ale.
The buildout was overseen by Todd Haug, the heavy metal musician and former head brewer at Minneapolis's Surly Brewing whom 3 Floyds describes as its "director of brewery engineering/veteran brewmaster/actual wizard."
3 Floyds, which RateBeer consistently ranks as one of the best in the world, and which the Brewers Association said is the 37th largest craft brewery in the United States by volume, plans to can additional beers in cans.
White said the brewery "can't say for sure which ones just yet."
Initially scorned by purists who favored longneck bottles and 22-ounce bombers, cans have been growing in popularity in the craft beer industry. The Brewers Association estimates that in 2016 cans rose to 16.7 percent of total craft beer production and 28.5 percent of packaged production, excluding draught sales.
3 Floyds and the Danish brewery Mikkeller have been canning their collaborative WarPigs beers since 2017, but 3 Floyds had never previously canned any of its own beers.