A recent blind tasting of a Scottish craft beer suggested that the tasters – all craft beer lovers – could not tell the difference between beer stored in a bottle or from a can and the improvements in canning indicate that canned beer could soon supersede its bottled brethren.
Certainly, the export of canned beer is increasing and, according to Drinks International, the 330ml can has begun taking over the role of bottles. In fact, in the first nine months of 2016, more than half the 4.5m hectolitres of beer that was exported from the UK was canned. This makes cans the UK’s most used vessel for exporting its local beers to Europe and further afield.
Of course, while this is a new phenomenon for UK breweries, brewers in the US have been producing beer in cans for a long time and, like the weather, it looks as though its taking off in Blighty.
As far as consumers are concerned, cans are easier (and safer!) to carry and you don’t need a bottle opener to get at the contents. But what’s interesting is that it’s breweries that are leading the way with cans – or certainly the 330ml size. Although bottling lines have traditionally been cheaper and easier to buy second-hand, canning systems are now much more efficient and, once installed, are easier to maintain.
What’s more, once canned, with WaveGrip carriers, craft brewers can be assured they’re getting the lowest entry cost multi-pack solution and the lowest cost carriers on the market. It’s a win-win – a better solution and a more cost effective and taste-saving way of storing beer.
It’s a matter of taste
As we’ve said before, oxygen is not beer’s best friend and both bottled and canned beers are blasted with CO2 to extract the oxygen. However, because cans are sealed much faster than bottles, brewers can be more confident in the quality of the beer because its exposure time is reduced. Similarly, light is death to beer and it’s much harder to screen UV light effects in a bottle than in a can
Music to our ears
UK trade body Can Makers explains that the canned craft beer industry is well established in the US because small-scale canning machines have been available for over a decade. However, the UK is catching up fast with the US now and is well ahead of the rest of Europe.
There are now more than 35 craft beer can filling lines in the UK, with the number growing very quickly. And off-trade retail sales of 330ml craft beer cans grew by almost 500 per cent last year alone. Exponential!
That’s a huge volume of potential cans to collate just in the UK but, since our clientele is not confined by any means to these shores, the world, as Del Boy would say, is our lobster. And the era of glass bottles might just be coming to an end.
And where there’s a can …
…There’s a carrier! Of course, the best carrier for craft beer producers is WaveGrip, naturally. This is because people who believe in quality and sustainability and know that our carriers are not only completely recyclable but are value-engineered to be stronger, cheaper and more environmentally sustainable.