How Tallboy Beer Cans Took Over Craft Beer


There was a time, not way back, when your souped-up imperial stout or equally proportioned “dank” IPA may need arrived within the once-standard 12-ounce bottle. At the moment, nonetheless, it’s not simply the glass that may really feel overseas within the common craft beer drinker’s hand, it’s the diminutive serving, too. Bottles have all however disappeared in a sea of aluminum, and even essentially the most adjunct-packed beer, pushing 12 p.c ABV, now is available in 16 ounces. 

Blame (or thank?) beers like The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. For many years, craft breweries caught to bottles as a method to buck customers’ associations between cans and a budget macro beers they grew up in opposition to. However, as co-founder John Kimmich advised a Vermont newspaper, when The Alchemist was bulking up manufacturing in 2011, he selected to can his brews in an effort to strike pretension from craft beer. LIke a number of the different breweries who have been breaking from 12- and 22-ounce bottles on the time, it was additionally about effectivity and the need to provide craft beer its personal look. The way it got here to dominate craft beer from there’s easy: As a result of sought-after beers appeared in 16-ounce cans, 16-ounce cans grew to become inextricably linked with craft beer in all of its “higher than macro lager” glory. 

However is {that a} good factor? Had been brewers so centered on differentiating craft beer that they missed all the explanations a 12-ounce can is superior? In any case, there’s a cause the 12-ouncer had grow to be the ever-present vessel pre-craft revolution. It’s a extra approachable serving dimension, making it simpler to throw again gentle beers or bask in a heavier, stronger beer with out immediately feeling full or hungover the following day. It’s wallet-friendlier, contemplating 12-ounce cans usually are available in six-packs and 16-ounce cans in four-packs—72 ounces versus 64 ounces. And, crucially, it guarantees a greater ingesting expertise from first to final sip. “For me, personally, I like that the beer stays alive for the ingesting expertise,” says Doug Reiser, co-founder and COO of North Carolina’s Burial Beer Co. “Typically a 16-ounce simply takes too lengthy to drink and it warms, depletes carbonation and loses steadiness.” 

Nonetheless, Burial cans principally in 16 ounces, counting components like higher prices for breweries, the chance to get beers into leisure and sports activities venues (which normally don’t need smaller cans) and that greater cans imply greater canvases for the brewery’s label artwork. However its core lagers and IPA are available in 12-ounce cans, which, Reiser says, diversifies their “match on cabinets” and reaches “a wider array of shoppers.”

For the typical beer drinker, the professionals of the 12-ounce can usually make the selection appear exasperatingly easy. However for breweries, it’s extra difficult. “[Sixteen-ounce] four-packs present a greater margin to brewers and thus extra flexibility on recipe price because you want 8 much less ounces, two much less cans, and get to promote six models to a case,” explains Doug Veliky, chief advertising officer at Chicago’s Revolution Brewing, who blogs about beer enterprise at Beer Crunchers. And whereas 12-ounce cans are able to attracting extra mainstream drinkers, Reiser factors out that craft customers are accustomed to the upper worth tags on four-packs of 16-ouncers. 

However what about fashion logic? Many beer drinkers need lower-ABV, easy-drinking lagers in taller cans, and heavier, higher-ABV IPAs and stouts in smaller cans. Lawson’s Best Liquids in Vermont weighs ABV and magnificence right here. Two of its beers, clocking in at 10 p.c ABV, go in 12-ounce cans “to reasonable alcohol consumption,” says Chase Mohrman, the brewery’s digital advertising specialist. The sub-5 p.c ABV Scrag Mountain Pils, nonetheless, is available in each 12 ounces and 16, “as a result of historically, a lightweight pilsner is packaged in 12-ounce cans so you may drink greater than separately extra simply.” 

Certainly, the best way Large Beer instilled the concept that crushable lagers go in crushable 12-ounce cans complicates the “little ABV, huge can; huge ABV, little can” method. Like Lawson’s, many breweries are responding to the ingrained attraction of sunshine beers in 12-ounce cans. As Veliky writes on Beer Crunchers, amid the craft beer trade’s present crush of competitors, excessive provide prices and altering client preferences, many breweries want to get a worth choice on cabinets. A present swell of nostalgia, paying homage to PBR’s hipsterfication a decade in the past, makes this a really perfect time to draw drinkers with branding and packaging (like 15-packs) impressed by regional lagers of generations previous.

Different codecs even smaller than 12 ounces have begun to spring up sporadically, from the practicality of Evil Twin’s boozy barrel-aged stouts in 8-ounce cans to Hopewell Brewing’s in style Lil Buddy, a 4.2 p.c lager canned as an 8-ouncer that co-founder Jonathan Fritz says is ideal for every thing from Bloody Mary sidecars or as a “strolling the canine” beer. A confluence of things—from creativity to advertising to economics—means we’ll most likely by no means see a tidy group of “the stronger the beer, the smaller the can,” nor a 12-ounce takeover. The four-pack’s price advantages for breweries, aluminum can shortages (making it powerful for breweries to order completely different sizes) and the truth that not each brewery has the power to flex sizes on their canning strains will proceed to make sure that 16 ounces is the norm. However that’s a disgrace, as a result of the standard 12-ounce can is the true platonic best for a beer serving dimension—a method to get pleasure from extra beers, in additional types, with out a heat blech of the previous few sips. 


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