As the craft beer revolution continues to gather momentum, demand for aluminum cans as the packaging format of choice for brewers is on the rise in the UK and throughout Europe. The need to accommodate the requirements of craft producers outside of the mainstream has been recognized and embraced by CROWN Bevcan Europe & Middle East, a business unit of Crown Holdings, Inc. (crowncork.com). In response, the company has partnered with Scottish brewers BrewDog (www.brewdog.com) to develop a new 400 cpm filling line in the company’s Aberdeen production center.
BrewDog spearheaded the rise of craft beer in the UK and is listed in The 2012 Sunday Times Fast Track 100 as the fastest growing food and drink company in the UK, exporting to over 55 countries and boasting a global portfolio of 26 bar franchises. The new packaging line allows for BrewDog’s premium branded beer Punk IPA to be packaged in 33cl and 50cl cans, as well as its three main brands Dead Pony Club, This. Is. Lager. and Jack Hammer to be canned in the 33cl format - and has the capacity to include further brands in the future.
The can is the perfect choice for craft brewers as it affords a wider range of options when compared to other packaging formats. The protection cans offer from light and oxygen is also crucial, as it ensures that the beer reaches drinkers in the same condition in which the brewer intended – something that is of paramount importance to BrewDog.
Craft brewers are also increasingly turning to metal packaging as a means to better differentiate their brands on store shelves, making full use of the 360-degree billboard a can offers. BrewDog selected Crown as its development partner in Aberdeen due to the latter’s ability to offer cutting-edge pre-press and print technologies and unrivalled customer technical expertise. The team is working with BrewDog to create innovative and striking packaging design concepts and then quickly bring them to market. New cans will be developed with Crown’s soft touch varnish finish – a tactile effect that reduces the reflectivity of metal over the whole surface of the can, giving the product a premium look and feel while reflecting the uniqueness of the ingredients within. All design creation, pre-press and proofing activities for BrewDog will take place at Crown’s European Design Studio. Located in Leicester, UK, the studio serves as a one-stop shop for brand owners across the EMEA region.
Martin Dempster, director, special ops, BrewDog, plc says, “We see cans as the ideal packaging for craft beer. Its ability to keep the beer fresh and to retain its unique flavor is what attracted us to this format and the team at Crown has made it possible for us to move forward with this very quickly. Within the wider drinks industry we are a relatively small player, but Crown’s technical service team tailored training and support for us and made the whole process feel like a partnership from start to finish, in the same way it would for a global brewer. It is this bespoke treatment and its obvious passion for the can, and the industry, that put Crown ahead of its competitors for us.”
In addition to providing the packaging itself, Crown has provided added support and expertise, offering flexibility with order sizes and facilitating line support. Historically, minimum order sizes made it difficult for craft brewers to justify packaging in cans, but Crown has diversified in order to accommodate the needs of the craft brewers in this area. Other services offered to BrewDog include a 360-degree review of its operation, from security analysis to package integrity, helping to maintain filling lines at optimum speeds with minimum downtime. In addition, Crown’s comprehensive training for operatives and engineers gave BrewDog the necessary tools to carry out changeovers themselves, quickly and efficiently.
“Our Customer Technical Service team has established an excellent relationship with BrewDog,” says Matt Twiss, marketing & business development director, CROWN Bevcan Europe and Middle East. “BrewDog chose to work with us following a series of discussions, throughout which their team was able to see that our approach is one that echoes its own views that the can is the obvious, and most sustainable, choice for packaging craft beer. Crown has a legacy of leadership in the craft brew sector and is strongly passionate about this fast-moving, innovative industry. We love being a part of such a rapidly expanding, exciting sector and our work with BrewDog will help it to expand its operations and to support the next level of growth.”
Craft beer has seen extensive growth in the US in recent years, which has driven its popularity around the world. Over 500 craft brewers are in operation across its 50 states and numbers continue to rise at a phenomenal rate. It is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down and the UK is already beginning to follow in these footsteps. US brewers such as Sly Fox, Upslope Brewing and Dagger Falls, to name but a few, have all taken advantage of Crown’s dedicated service when it comes to moving their products successfully into cans. Now, across the pond, BrewDog is seeking to emulate their successes and to expand its horizons in the same way. For craft beer, cans, it seems, really do provide all the answers.