We are at the FINAL stage of our inaugural brew and are so excited to dive into what goes into that last step before it hits your doorstep or your local retailer. On this post, we will cover different types of packaging, the pros and cons of each, and where trends are headed. After the beer goes through its final processing and is ready to be consumed, there are a variety of ways to package it so it arrives to consumers fresh and tasty.
Bottles – Bottles have been the more traditional container for beer for centuries. For a long time, bottles were more cost-effective than cans but that’s been mitigated as the cost of aluminum has decreased over time and the wall thickness of the cans has thinned. “Although some brewers still use corks, most seal their bottles with the familiar metal cap. A liner on the inside of the cap seals the bottle and the metal edges of the cap crimp around the lip of the bottle to hold it in place and maintain the seal. A well-sealed bottle protects beer from oxygen well and for a long time.
Most beer bottles are made of brown, green or clear glass. All three colors let in light although brown lets in a lot less than the other two. If you have ever had a skunked beer, also called light struck, then you know why this is a problem. The unpleasant odor and flavor are caused by ultraviolet light hitting certain molecules in beer, a process that can happen very quickly. So, bottles need to be packaged and/or labeled in a way that prevents light from getting through” according to The Spruce Eats.
Cans – There has been a shift in packaging over the past few years as more and more beer is packaged in cans over bottles. We’ve covered the cost efficiencies of canning over time but what are some of the other benefits? Whereas bottles let light in, the opaqueness of the can prevents that from happening. Cans are “air tight and hermetically sealed, preventing oxygen from damaging the beer. Over time, oxygen can leach into bottled beer under the cap” according to TapTrail.com. One of the perceived downsides of using cans is the metallic taste that can sometimes overtake the beer. However, the can is sealed so the beer never actually comes in contact with the metal. When people perceive a metallic taste, it’s usually the smell of the can that’s interfering. An easy fix is to pour the beer in a glass, and the problem is solved!
If you haven’t heard, there is a national can “shortage.” Part of the reason is the increased demand on “off-premis e” consumption. COVID has dramatically shifted consumption away from draft beers (traditionally consumed in restaurants and bars) to packaged beers (in cans and bottles). Additionally, there has been increased consumption for cans, particularly in hard seltzers. Retail sales of canned products were up 24% since March, according to the Wall Street Journal.
This shortage has led breweries to seek out alternatives. “Unfortunately, the first alternative you go to is plastic and no one is excited about that — cranking out more plastic containers.” Nestle is looking “at trying to make a plastic bottle out of biodegradable non-plastic. But they’re not at the point where they can put alcohol in it yet” according to mibiz.com.
We are grateful to have cans for our initial brew and look forward to hearing what you think! Excited to be packaging and shipping this out – definitely a bright spot of 2020!
Take care and be well,