Ska Brewing isn’t new to the canning game, as it was right behind Oskar Blues in starting the craft can revolution, but now the Colorado brewer is taking its entire flagship lineup aluminium. So long, bottles. Hopefully you guys can still be friends.
The new cans officially made their debut March 1, including Decadent and two of Ska’s most award-winning beers: Buster Nut Brown and Steel Toe Milk Stout.
“It’s funny, people think we’re early adopters, or trend-setters, but we just like outdoor adventures and cans go more places. We’re probably just selfish,” said Dave Thibodeau, Ska co-founder and president. “We started canning 13 years ago, because we selfishly wanted our own beer in a more portable package. We can’t really think past just solving our own problems. But this might solve some other people’s problems too — maybe even world problems?”
On all things can, it is good to turn to Oskar Blues for some fun, punny commentary:
“It’s about fuh-CAN time,” said Jeremy Rudolf, Oskar Blues CANigma, when probed about their fellow canning pioneers’ shift. “I’m really looking forward to Decadent in a can!”
We hold the same enthusiasm. There is still some room for glass in the Ska family though as the brewery will continue to offer its Robust Reincarnations (Decadent Imperial IPA, Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter and True Blonde Dubbel), in 22-ounce bombers, along with certain limited edition beers.
There are other reasons to can the bottle, according to Bill Graham, Ska co-founder and overlord of Brewing Operations. “People don’t want to drag a dozen bottles around for a lot of the same reasons we don’t want to ship a dozen hundred thousand of them. They’re heavy and fragile. Even when they’re empty.”
Graham makes a great point (made even better by the made up number). For more about the hugeness of the current canning trend, we turn to ourselves:
“We have also been seeing many of our core craft customers double and even triple in size,” said [Ron Skotleski, director of marketing for Crown Beverage Packaging, North America]. “We have been seeing lately many of the larger craft players, who have traditionally been in glass, looking at starting or improving their can footprint.”
For cans specifically, YTD the industry as a whole has experienced slightly over 2 percent growth in the Alcoholic Beverage Segment, according Skotleski. In 2015, Crown is projecting can sales for the craft market to finish up 56 percent vs. 2014. From the innovation side, Skotleski expects to see 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.
So, as we head into 2016, much like the craft brewing industry, do not expect the canning craze to slow down.
“From a marco, industry-wide perspective, I would expect 2016 to continue down the path of acquisition for larger, regional craft breweries. I would not be surprised to see regional breweries continue to expand their distribution footprint and open additional facilities to become national players. I am also optimistic that the larger craft breweries that up until now have focused traditionally on glass, will make a bigger push into cans,” Skotleski said.