Tech Investors Dive Into Adrian Grenier’s New Beer Startup, Churchkey

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Old movie buffs (and older readers) may remember a time when beer was sold in steel cans that were opened with a “church key.” Entourage star Adrian Grenier is tapping into that nostalgia, with a new beer startup he’s cofounding, Churchkey Can Co — with the support of some tech industry leaders.

The cans are the old-timey variety that you probably haven’t seen since the 60s. They’re made of fully-recyclable steel, and require a churchkey opener to get into. You puncture one corner of the top, then make a deeper puncture on the other side to drink out of. Ever noticed a triangle-shaped piece of metal on the other end of some bottle openers? It’s for these types of cans.

The packaging will not only win points for nostalgia. Steel cans are recycled more often than aluminum cans (66% v. 58%), and has the highest recycling rate of any food package.

Okay, right, so what about the beer itself?

It’s a pilsener, created by long-time homebrewers Lucas Jones and Sean Burke. True to its light-beer form, it’s 4.9% alcohol with a relatively mild score of 29 in International Bittering Units. Sounds pretty similar to my personal favorite, Trumer Pils, although I haven’t had a chance to compare yet.

The company, cofounded by former Nike designer Justin Hawkins, has just begun distributing the beverages to local stores across the beer-obsessed region. It’s got stiff competition because the Pacific Northwest is full of excellent microbrews. But the unique can, the quality of the beer, the local brewers, the celebrity founder (and investors?) should all give it a good push. Sources, who you’ll have to guess the identities of on your own, say that sales have been brisk so far. Look for it to head south sometime in the coming months.

There’s been surprisingly little press for Churchkey to date (which is what the company apparently wants). But they’ve raised capital from, among others, a number of tech leaders. We’ve heard that executives from Facebook and Zynga, as well as CrunchFund, have put money in to date.