Canadian Packaging

Craft beers look at metal packaging

Growth of Craft Beer industry credited to new metal packaging.


September 26, 2011
by Canadian Packaging Staff

With the improving economic outlook, the craft brewing industry saw sales grow by 12 per cent in 2010, up seven percent from 2008. Part of that growth is being attributed to the evolution of metal packaging, which enables brands to keep up with the active lifestyles of today’s consumers and reach outdoor venues where other packaging formats are discouraged.

CROWN Beverage Packaging North America, a business unit of Crown Holdings, Inc., has provided support to several craft brewers seeking to expand their packaging options and increase exposure with consumers.

Metal has several intrinsic properties that make it an ideal choice for craft brews: Beverage cans are durable, portable and lightweight and serve as a powerful barrier against light and oxygen, helping extend shelf life and preserve freshness and taste. They also chill more quickly than other packaging formats.

For the Boulder, Colorado-based Upslope Brewing Company, it was the sustainability benefits of metal that drove interest in packaging its hand-crafted ales exclusively in cans as metal packaging is 100 per cent recyclable and can be recycled repeatedly without loss or alteration in quality.

“Colorado residents value products that are not only safe for the environment, but also fit into the outdoor-driven lifestyle that defines the state,” says Matt Cutter, Upslope Brewing Company’s founder. “From day one, our business plan included metal packaging. We knew that cans were the perfect way to get people to take our brews on their next camping or fly fishing trip.”

Cutter first put together that business plan, identifying craft brew as a growing industry, in late 2008—after 20 years brewing beer at home as a pastime. Upslope was looking for a partner that was flexible with minimum orders and, after much research, Cutter met Thomas Hughes, marketing manager of CROWN Beverage Packaging North America, who was able to fulfill his small quantity needs. Shortly after the meeting, Crown began to package Upslope Brewing Company’s Brown Ale, Pale Ale and India Pale Ale in 12 ounce aluminum cans.

“Craft brews are generating a loyal following because of the strong brand identities they have developed,” states Hughes. “Crown is well positioned to help both large and small craft brewers build on that foundation and convey a premium, progressive image to consumers while meeting the brand’s needs.”

It was these very benefits that made Avery Brewing Company, a fellow Boulder brewer, want to have its popular White Rascal Belgian ale, Joe’s Premium American Pilsner, Ellie’s Brown Ale and India Pale Ale brands available in metal packaging.

Avery turned to Crown, after an introduction from Upslope Brewing, for its 12 oz. beverage cans as well as technical assistance during the transition. Crown also provided extensive support to ensure printing was of the highest quality and to keep graphics consistent with the labels used on Avery’s glass bottles. Like Upslope, Avery was new to metal packaging and sought a supplier who could serve their small order needs, and Crown’s flexibility with minimum shipment sizes facilitated a smooth partnership.

“We had wanted to get into metal for some time, but needed the right partner to help us do it,” explains Adam Avery, founder of Avery Brewing Company. “As we are new to packaging in metal cans, our orders were going to be very small and we needed a supplier who could accommodate this. Crown understood our need and was able to provide the low can volume we were looking for, helping us get to market quickly and easily. Their flexibility and technical support really set them apart. We’ve had such great success with metal that we continue to explore putting more of our other ales and lagers in cans.”

About Crown Holdings, Inc.

Crown Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is a leading supplier of packaging products to consumer marketing companies around the world. World headquarters are located in Philadelphia, PA. For more information, visit www.crowncork.com .