It’s still just one beer recipe being brewed at the historic John St. Roundhouse in downtown Toronto, but the entrepreneurial brains behind the privately-owned Steam Whistle Brewing have decided the time has come to expand the packaging choices for the company’s popular, award-winning Premium Pilsner brand.
While Steam Whistle’s flagship brew—packaged in distinctive green-tinted, label-free bottles since the company’s launch in 2000—has become a common sight at bars and restaurants in and around Canada’s largest city, recent installation of a new canning line has opened up a whole new range of marketing possibilities, according to the company’s co-founders.
Now available in the Euro-style 500-ml aluminum cans—manufactured by Crown Metal Packaging in the U.K.—the new packaging format will help the company fill a long-standing void in the local markets for microbrewed beer, asserts company president Cam Heaps.
“We’ve had customers requesting this package format for a while,” states Haps. “Cans are a favorite for sports enthusiasts, sailors, golfers, cottagers and backyard barbecuers alike, and we’d love to have them all drinking our Pilsner cans this year.”
Adds co-founder and company vice-president Greg Taylor: “By offering our Premium Pilsner in this new packaging format, we can provide something new and exciting to beer drinkers.”
Retailing in four-packs across Ontario through LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) outlets and also in 24-packs available at The Beer Store locations, the introduction of canned Premium Pilsner appears to be a reflection of a Canada-wide trend toward canned beer.
“This trend started about 16 to 18 months ago and it does not appear to be slowing down,” says Leanne Rhee, LCBO’s beer category manager. “At first we thought that the can was a seasonal preference … however, strong sales for canned beer have continued into the fall-winter season.”
New container aside, Steam Whistle worked with its packaging suppliers to help maintain the company both the brand’s equity—mainly through faithful replication of the locomotive-inspired graphics—and a hard-earned reputation for innovative packaging.
For example, the pre-printed, B-flute corrugated 24-pack cases—produced by the Concord, Ont.-based Packaging Technologies Inc.—feature built-in zippers that quickly convert the fully-enclosed cases into open trays.
For their part, the four-pack paperboard cartons from Cascades Inc. come outfitted with built-in, easy-carrying handles—unlike any other four-can-beer pack retailing in the local markets.