It is packaging week on Craft Brewong Business. Did you miss our first dispatch from Pack Expo 2016? Check out all the latest trends here.
Amid all of the new entries in craft beer packaging, I found actual competition in two somewhat surprising places: Crowlers and can handles.
Can handle revolution: PolyPro
In plastic can handles, PakTech is the current industry leader with their 96 percent post-consumer waste, 100 percent recyclable can handles — the ones you’ve seen on Avery, Breckinridge, Revolution or pretty much anyone else that isn’t using a box. Now, Roberts PolyPro is breaking into this space with their own, open-design multipack handle.
The Roberts PolyPro handle is not made from post-consumer material, but it remains 100 percent recyclable. However, because of its spare design, it uses less material and thus costs less. That’s good news from the producer’s point of view.
From the consumer’s point of view, the most exciting thing may be that you can actually get a can out of the PolyPro handle with only one hand. Trivial as that may be, it may make all the difference in cutting into PakTech’s market share.
Rise of the crowler
Jason Dan of Oskar Blues was “spreading the gospel of cans,” as he put it, with their Crowler table-top single-head seamer.
Tap rooms can mount a Crowler seamer behind their bar and fill and seam single-use 32-ounce cans at the beginning of the day or on demand. Crowlers keep beer fresher for longer than glass growlers and give breweries more control over the cleanliness of the package they’re pouring their beer into.
Dixie Canner Co. also offers a Crowler seamer which they argue is a heavier strength and more precise machine than the Oskar Blues model, which also justifies their higher price point (almost $6,000 vs. $3,900 for the Oskar Blues rig).
Oskar Blues acknowledged that there was a quality issue early on with their first model, but Dan called it “growing pains” and assured me that, with proper maintenance, their machine would function indefinitely.
Dixie, by contrast, offered their over 120 years of experience. I spoke with Parrish Stapleton, who said he often has to educate his brewery customers about just what is involved in moving into cans, not to mention Crowlers. They help connect their customers to both can and label companies.
Brad Fruhauff sent several dispatches from Pack Expo 2016 our way. Check them out all this week. Brad is a killer freelance beer writer who contributes to CBB. Check out his own site here.