Brewers Association

52 small craft brewers put beer in a can

September 18, 2009

Seven years ago the Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado made the newswire with the announcement that it was the first small craft brewer to put beer in a can.  Now there are 52 craft brewers (and counting) that can beer. There was a buzz in the brewing community because of a number of reasons.

What are some key considerations for brewers: glass versus cans?

Glass packages offer excellent beer quality. It offers. Perceived elegance of beer in a glass bottle is favored by consumers. Glass is heavy. Shipping costs are based on weight.  Glass breaks.  It does not offer a complete barrier to flavor impacting light. Per unit cost is expensive, though minimum orders are not prohibitive.  Air ingress happens through the bottle cap/glass interface.  Glass most often requires labels and machines to put the labels on the bottle.  Glass provides a lower rate of heat transfer than aluminum cans.

Can packages offer excellent beer quality.  The can aluminum is coated so metal never touches the beer.  Per unit cost is low for large volume orders, but small orders can be a prohibitively expensive for microbrewers. Cans are light and reduce shipping costs.  Cans do not shatter when abused.  They can be taken where glass is prohibited.  They offer complete protection from light.  They offer a complete seal.  They expose beer to temperature fluctuations more quickly than glass. The image of beer in a can has a history of perceived inferior quality.  Craft beer in cans could be perceived as unique, distinctive and a specialized niche market.

Their challenge will be to overcome the negative image of beer in cans perceived by many beer enthusiasts.  Canned beer is commonly associated with mass marketed light American lager beer, budget beer and perceived inferior quality.  Small brewers will endeavor to put full flavored and quality beer into cans and depend on the beer drinkers’ experience.  A PR campaign to change attitude would be prohibitively expensive.

Hear National Public Radio story, Craft Beer In A Can? A Gutsy Move Is Paying Off  It starts out with “[pfffst sound of beer can opening] This sound has never been associated with top flight beer…”

Watch Bud Light Lime’s commercial and then read Advertising Age story In Juvenile Bud Light Lime Spot, This Butt's for You  that has image makers shaking their head in dismay  The lead in scene: “I got it in the can for the first time last night, I loved it…”   Advertising age says, “That ad sparked wide recriminations about how lowest-common-denominator advertising turns the product into a commodity indistinguishable by any measure other than whose proprietor has lower standards.”

Craft beer in cans celebrated by Food and Wine, Celebrating Craft and Canned Beers

52 craft brewers can their beer (brewery websites found at Brewers Association’s brewery website locator)

  • 21st Amendment Brewery
  • Anderson Valley Brewing
  • Arctic Craft Brewery
  • Big Sky Brewing Company
  • Blue Mountain Brewery
  • Bohemian Brewing Company
  • Breckenridge Brewing Co
  • Buckbean Brewing Company
  • Butternuts Beer & Ale
  • Caldera Brewing Company
  • Carolina Beer and Beverage
  • Coastal Extreme Brewing Co
  • Cottrell Brewing Company
  • David's Ale Works
  • Four Peaks Brewing
  • Harvest Moon, Belt
  • Heiner Brau, Covington
  • High Noon Saloon, Leavenworth
  • Kettlehouse Brewing Co
  • Keweenaw Brewing Company
  • Mammoth Brewery
  • Maui Brewing Company
  • Micro Packaging Solutions, Flagstaff
  • Milwaukee Ale House, Milwaukee
  • Mudshark Brewing Company
  • New Belgium Brewing
  • New England Brewing Company
  • New South Brewing Company, Myrtle Beach
  • Northwoods Brewpub and Grill
  • Old Capitol Brew Works
  • Oskar Blues
  • Pete's Place, Krebs
  • Prescott Brewing Co
  • Pug Ryan's Steakhouse & Brewery
  • Rochester Mills Brewer, Rochester
  • SKA Brewing
  • Sleeping Lady Brewing Company
  • Sly Fox Brewing
  • Southern Star Brewery, Conroe
  • Spilker Ales
  • Steamworks Brewing
  • Stone Coast Brewing
  • Surly Brewing Company
  • Thunderhead Brewing Co
  • Tommyknocker Brewing Co
  • Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery
  • Ukiah Brewing Company
  • Uncommon Brewers
  • Upslope Brewing
  • Warbird Brewing Company
  • Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver

A more detailed version of this story appears at 52 small craft brewers put beer in a can   on Examiner.com 

Charlie Twitters at  twitter.com/CharliePapazian

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