I’m a big fan of craft beer in cans and on the Hop Cast we’ve been promoting it for years. At this point we all know the benefits; lighter to ship, more likely to be recycled, immune to sunlight, etc…
But I have another thought about canned craft beer that’s a bit more psychological than just the visual benefits.
I grew up drinking soda that was primarily in the can, sometimes we’d pick up a bottle, usually when we were in the car and didn’t want to spill it. Most of the drinks I remember seeing were in cans, once in a while people would drink a bottle of coca-cola; even today I only see bottles of coke if someone had grabbed some of the mexican coke from Costco. So when I turned 21, would I grab a six pack of bottles or would I reach for cans? Actually, most of the time we’d pick up the cheapest thing we could get, often in a package that resembled a 24 pack of canned soda. Why? Well, it was cheap but it was also very familiar. I have a sneaky suspicion that the marketing folks for the big beer brands know this.
Well, like many other people, I grew out of buying beer by the case and got some more money and started exploring and trying craft beer. Craft beer until recently pretty much all came in bottles and there was a stigma that cheap, bad beer came in cans. Canned beer was the beer your dad drank. Canned beer was the stuff you used to buy in bulk to get drunk with your buddies before you knew about the good beer; now you like something better. If you look back, canned beer came before canned soda. Canned beer made it’s debut in 1935 but canned soda didn’t take off till the late 50’s.
Now the shelves of the beer stores are lined with brown bottle after brown bottle of craft beer. Heavy to carry and often breaking if you’re traveling with them. However, slowly breweries are making canned beer cool again for craft beer lovers. Often with unique designs and in a larger format, something that resembles the can you see at the gas station next to the soda, not your dad’s beer. That’s right, energy drinks. As the craft beer revival was happening (or rather a bit before that) soda was on the downturn and energy drinks were taking it’s place.
The Rise Of Energy Drinks
What do you see and hear about kids drinking these days? Cans of soda? Nah, they want something more, energy drinks… Monster, Red Bull, Rock Star. And these are all in cans. Energy drinks had 13.3% dollar sales growth in 2010. Most of these cans have attractive packaging and catch your eye when you walk past them in the cooler. This is what the smart package designer wants. Now think about those hip canned craft beers and the energy drinks you’re seeing everyone downing one after another. Boy do they look similar…. Heck, if I saw someone drinking a 16 oz tall boy of craft beer in public I’d probably assume it was just some new energy drink, unless I took a second look.
When kids these days turn 21 are they going to look to buy a six pack? Bottles no way! Cans! Bottled craft beer is what their dad drinks. Currently canned beer accounts for approximately half of the $20 billion U.S. beer industry, I have a feeling we’re going to see that number rise even more as the next generation of drinkers become of age.