With volume sales of craft beer in the UK up 43.6% and the growing desire of consumers to purchase an all-round ‘experience’ rather than just a drink, it is little surprise that cans are now being utilised by craft breweries in the UK to help meet these demands.
Cans are within the top 4 trends of the UK beer and cider market according to a recent presentation by CGA Strategy. Cans aren’t just being embraced by craft breweries because they protect beer from light and oxygen, retain fresh hop flavours, and are highly portable; they offer good marketing opportunities too, as emphasised by Martin Constable, Chairman of the information service CanMakers:
“Canned beer … allows for cool and exciting packaging, such striking imagery opens the love of beer up to a wider audience …. Consumers are falling in love with the look, feel and taste of canned beer.”
There is, however, another very plausible reason why canning is on the increase amongst UK craft breweries. The canning equipment which was once unattainable to them is now within their reach:
“In recent years, breweries that wanted to can had to commit to eye-watering order volumes with major manufactures or be fortunate enough to be able to invest in their own canning lines. Most of these in-between were left to look longingly at their US brethren, ably canning their beers with enviable ease. But as breweries in the UK and Ireland continue to flourish, so have the avenues available…” The Brewers Journal, Sep/Oct 2015
A few years ago when we heard the first whispers amongst our craft brewing friends here in the UK about their desire to can, we started out on our own journey. Our aim was to bring them the kind of canning machines they coveted from the US, with one proviso: The equipment had to be specifically designed for the scale and requirements of craft (as oppose to mass) beer production.
We did a lot of research and we discovered American Beer Equipment (ABE) and set off to their production facility in the heart of Nebraska to meet Adam Kosmicki, Director in charge of Engineering & Customer Service, to take a look around. We were impressed with what we saw and by the feedback we got from the craft brewers who use their lines. So much so, that we decided to add ABE canning lines to our range here in the UK. Adam was a great host and we’d be lying if we said that the fantastic American craft beers and burgers didn’t help to cement the relationship! On our return, we worked hard to ensure the lines are suitable for the UK market.
Since the launch, we’ve supplied and installed canning lines at 5 craft breweries in the UK, including The Harbour Brewing Co and The Wild Beer Co. It’s been a real pleasure to build relationships with each brewing team and learn more about their unique brands. We feel privileged to have helped them to develop their production. We are really pleased to be supplying another two canning lines in the very near future.
These are exciting times for craft breweries in the UK and they are really rising to meet the challenges of increased demand: to stand up and stand out in a flourishing market in order to offer that experience which consumers crave.
So, is craft beer in cans cool? I think so but maybe we’re just biased!
From the team at Vigo Ltd