Which is right for your microbrewery: bottles or cans

Which is right for your microbrewery: bottles or cans

Microbreweries are becoming more and more popular in today’s market, and many entrepreneurs are considering how to choose the right packaging method for their business. Among them, bottles and cans are the two main options. Brewers and beer lovers have different opinions on whether to use cans or bottles to store their favorite beers. This article will answer you whether bottles are suitable for microbreweries or cans are more suitable.

Beer Packaging

Before we delve into the details of bottling and kegging, it’s important to understand the importance of packaging beer correctly. Packaging serves a variety of purposes, including protecting the beer from oxygen, ensuring consistent carbonation, and maintaining flavor integrity.

Beer packaging is more than just putting beer in a container; it’s a critical step in the brewing process that can have a significant impact on the final product. The right packaging can enhance the consumer’s overall drinking experience and help your beer stand out in a competitive market.

Beer Packaging

What is Brewery Bottling?

Beer bottling refers to the process of packaging and selling beer in glass bottles. This packaging method is a common one in the beer industry. At the end of the brewing process, there are many options for packaging beer. These include packaging the beer into individual bottles, capping them or sealing them with corks, and then sealing them to maintain optimal freshness.

Beer bottling can use bottles of various shapes and sizes. From classic long-necked bottles to unique screw-top bottles, each container has different aesthetics and functions. Brewers often choose specific bottle types to enhance the appearance of the beer and cater to the preferences of different consumers.

What is brewery canning?

Brewery canning refers to the process of packaging and selling beer in metal cans (usually aluminum cans). This packaging method is becoming more and more common in the beer industry, especially in the fast-moving consumer market and convenient packaging. Brewery canning usually uses aluminum cans as packaging containers. These cans can have different capacities, such as 330 ml, 355 ml, or 473 ml, etc., depending on market demand and consumer preferences.

Does Canned Beer Taste Better Than Bottled?

There’s nothing better than a fresh draft beer from your local bar or brewery taproom. But for those times when you don’t have access to ready-made beer and need it packaged, there are logical arguments that aluminum cans are the best choice for preserving beer quality. Canned beer blocks all UV rays, greatly reducing the likelihood that the beer will go bad (with a slightly altered flavor). Glass lets in light, which can break down certain hop compounds and change the flavor of the beer—turning a tropical IPA into a milder lager. Canned beer also keeps oxygen out because they’re completely sealed. Oxygen can sometimes get in during the bottling process, which can lead to over-oxidation, giving the beer a cardboard flavor (not our favorite flavor)

Glass bottles keep beer cooler longer, but does that mean bottled beer tastes better? The Huffington Post experimented with four different beer brands: Budweiser, Heineken, Sierra Nevada, and Sapporo, in both cans and bottles. The goal of the experiment was to serve the beer in mugs so no one knew which was which. Tasters compared the beers, guessing which they thought was the canned version and which they liked better. Results showed that tasters preferred canned beers for 3 out of 4 beers, and 54% of tasters correctly identified the canned beers.

Bottled beer

Vantagens

  • Brand image: Glass bottles are often seen as a symbol of high-end and quality assurance, which helps to enhance your brand image.
  • Freshness: Glass bottles can better protect the taste and freshness of beer, especially for products that need to be stored for a long time or transported over long distances.
  • Environmental advantages: Glass bottles can be reused or recycled, which has better environmental protection effects than other materials.
  • Market acceptance: Consumers have a high acceptance and preference for bottled beer, especially in the high-end market and gift markets.

Desvantagens

  • High cost: Glass bottles are expensive to manufacture and transport, which may increase your production costs.
  • Fragility: Compared with other packaging methods, glass bottles are more likely to break during transportation or use.

Canned beer

Vantagens

  • Cost-effectiveness: Plastic or aluminum cans are usually cheaper than glass bottles, which can reduce your production and transportation costs.
  • Lightweight and easy to carry: Canned beer is lighter and easier for consumers to carry and store, especially for outdoor activities and large gatherings.
  • Durability: Compared with glass bottles, canned beer is less likely to break and safer to transport and handle.
  • Market popularity: Canned beer has a wider popularity and acceptance, especially in the fast-moving consumer market and retail supermarkets.

Desvantagens

  • Environmental issues: Plastic cans may have a greater impact on the environment, and the current recycling rate is not high.
  • Brand image: Some consumers may think that canned beer is not as high-end as bottled beer, which affects the brand image and market positioning.

Bottling and Canning Equipment Costs

Equipamento de enchimento de cerveja costs are an important factor for breweries to consider. Because bottling line technology has been refined over hundreds of years, there are many options for equipment to choose from. Since bottles have long dominated the market, manufacturers face more competition, while brewers benefit from lower prices.

While canned beer has been around for decades, a large number of small craft breweries have begun to switch to cans, which was enough to cause beer prices to spike. Canning lines cost much more than bottling lines but require fewer human operators.

Bottling requires more time and labor overall, but the upfront cost of equipment is much lower. For small breweries that need to start with limited funds, a manual-filling bottling line is the most affordable option.

Many small breweries start with a small manual bottling line because the initial cost is lower, and then invest in a canning line when profits allow. It is also possible to start with a small bottling or canning operation and then upgrade over time. Some systems are easier to upgrade than others, and custom solutions may be needed to modify them.

What is brewery canning?

Microbreweries: Bottles or Cans

Flavor Differences

There is no qualitative difference in taste between canned and bottled beer. Consumers are heavily influenced by preconceived notions of quality that are not borne out when tested. Taste is not a quality factor that differs between the two packaging methods.

Preservation Quality

Canned beer has a slight advantage when it comes to preserving beer freshness. The elements most detrimental to beer are light and oxygen. If beer is exposed to too much oxygen inside the container, it develops an unpleasant musty odor that customers will immediately notice.

Aluminum cans are sealed with as little headspace as possible to minimize the potential for degradation due to oxygen.

Automated bottling lines typically place bottles under high-pressure water jets to froth the beer, which drives out the oxygen and replaces it with carbon dioxide. The system then caps the bottle before air has a chance to re-enter the bottle. Many small and medium-sized breweries fill bottles manually using a counter-pressure filling head, which injects carbonated beer directly into the pressurized bottle, minimizing the loss of carbon dioxide.

Consumer Preferences

Canned beer is becoming increasingly popular as more brewers believe that cans are the best way to package beer. In 2008, 56% of the beer brewed and sold in the United States was canned. By 2018, that number jumped to 62%. A large portion of canned beer comes from large breweries that sell beer by the case, but craft brewers are taking a growing share of the canned beer market.

Factors to consider

  • Target market: Which packaging method does your target consumer group prefer?
  • Transportation and preservation needs: Does your product need to be stored for a long time or shipped over long distances?
  • Brand positioning: Is your brand image and market positioning more focused on high-end and traditional, or younger, innovative, and convenient?

Whether using bottles or cans, there are unique advantages and applicable scenarios. The final decision should be based on your business needs, target market, and brand strategy to ensure that the packaging method you choose can maximize your sales and market development.