In 2015, we projected can sales for the craft market to finish up 56 percent vs. 2014. That’s insane. From the innovation side, we discussed seeing more and more breweries experimenting with a variety of graphics capabilities (inks and varnishes) and some larger breweries trying specific labels in the sleek-styled can size vs. the traditional standard 12- and 16-ounce cans. As we head into 2016, much like the craft brewing industry, we do not expect the canning craze to slow down. Another indicator: One of America’s biggest craft breweries is canning its flagship beer (too bad it’s only for locals, but we still dig those yellow cans).
Widmer Brothers Hefe has been the brewery’s flagship beer for 30 years, and according to Widmer, the Original American Hefeweizen is still the best-selling craft beer in Oregon. To celebrate Hefe’s 30th anniversary this year, the beer will be available in 12-ounce cans in six- and 12-packs for the first time ever in the Oregon market exclusively.
“With 30 years of history, Hefe has hit quite a few milestones,” said Rob Widmer. “In 1996, which is amazingly 20 years ago, we thought Hefe being bottled was a major step forward. Now to see Hefe in cans after 30 years, it really is a big moment for us. We hope Oregonians agree, and enjoy the new Hefe cans.”
The history of this fine Hefe
Kurt and Rob Widmer, co-founders of Widmer Brothers Brewing, first brewed their improvised version of Hefeweizen in 1986. Initially, beer drinkers didn’t know what to think of the cloudy beer served with a lemon slice, but it didn’t take long for the distinctive beer to catch on in Portland and eventually elevate Widmer Brothers Brewing to national acclaim. Widmer Brothers is also credited with creating a new beer style with Hefe: American-Style Wheat.
Hefe made its first public appearance in cans yesterday, March 13, at the Shamrock Run, the famed Portland running season kick-off event that Widmer Brothers has sponsored for 16 years. Hefe cans will be available to finishers of the race who are 21 years of age or older free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis, and for purchase at the finishing area at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Additionally, Providence Park, home of the Portland Timbers, will start selling cans of Hefe at the next home Timbers game vs. Real Salt Lake on March 19, 2016. Hefe was named the “Official Craft Beer of the Portland Timbers” in 2015 and will continue to have a strong presence in and around Providence Park.