A lot happened last week at the Great American Beer Festival. Award-winning brewers received prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 84 beer categories covering 138 different beer styles. More than 620 breweries could be found in the festival hall, serving more than 3,100 beers to 49,000 attendees. But one of the biggest new releases at the event (and we do me BIG), was the debut of San Diego’s Mission Brewery‘s first quart-sized cans — the first to be used by a U.S. microbrewery.
Mission’s quart “cannons” hold the ambitious microbrewery’s increasingly popular Shipwrecked Double IPA and its hoppy new session beer, El Conquistador Extra Pale Ale. These gigantic canned brews are also appearing now on retailer shelves in California and Colorado. The cannons will reach our other states over the next few weeks. The quart cans are Mission’s first entry in the popular canned craft beer niche.
The move to quart cans came about earlier this year when Mission founder Dan Selis was in a meeting with his local distributor. “One of their staff,” Selis recalled, “said, ‘I’m waiting for a microbrewery to get off its ass and put out a beer in an oil can like Fosters.’ After the meeting I couldn’t stop thinking about that.”
Selis and his staff accepted the 25-ounce can challenge, only to discover Ball Packaging’s new quart can. The 32-ounce can allowed Mission to take the bigger can idea up several more ounces and it fit with Mission’s goals.
“We’re always looking for ways to make better beer and have more fun,” Selis said. “And we like the benefits of cans and had been thinking about using them. The quart can meant we could hit those two goals and embrace aluminum cans in a fashion that smashes the status quo.”
”The idea of our luscious beers in a gigantic quart can cracked us up,” said Martin Saylor, Mission’s national sales director, “and no microbrewery has ever done them before. We couldn’t resist the idea. Now we’re the little brewery with the huge package and a great beer.”
El Conquistador is a low-alcohol hoppy showcase. It sports the hop charms one expects in an IPA, but in an ultra-quaffable ale of just 4.8-percent ABV. Complex, El Conquistador is built with pale malts, a touch of crystal malt and a few treasure chests of Centennial and experimental hops.
“It’s the ultimate session beer for hopheads,” said Mission head brewer John Egan.
Shipwrecked Double IPA delivers the unctuous hop punch you’d expect in a West Coast IIPA, but with an equally hearty compliment of malted barley. The beer is lush with pine, citrus and candied grapefruit notes from a hop blend that includes Cascade and Magnum hops. These charms meld with chewy caramel notes, a velvety body and a slow bite of finishing hops. The beer is 9.25-percent ABV.
Like all cans, Mission’s quart cans offer full protection from light and oxygen damage, are welcome in places bottles aren’t allowed, and help Mission shrink its carbon footprint for shipped beer. “But our cans,” he added, “also deliver two full pints of our beer. So Mission fans get a big-volume beer in a lightweight, ultra-portable, infinitely recyclable, freshness-keeping cylinder.”
“They’re also pretty hilarious to see,” Saylor added, “and make for a unique and jarring presentation for our small-batch beers. Our retailers are very excited about them.” The cans are filled on a Cask Brewing Systems machine that was custom-built for Mission and the 32-oz cans.
“Craft brewers,” said Ball Packaging’s Jerod Brody, “are incredibly creative in finding ways to make their brands stand out, and few packages make a bigger impact than our 32-ounce can. Not only does it provide a huge 360-degree billboard for branding, it’s also shareable and encourages socializing with friends.”