Brewers Are Selling Classic Beers in Larger Cans: Here's Why
I’ve covered beer professionally for over a decade, and even I do it: When I walk into a beer shop nowadays, I immediately gravitate towards the 16-ounce cans. Intellectually, I know that—though the can has plenty of advantages—it doesn’t mean the brewer did a better job creating the liquid inside than someone who decided to use bottles. But viscerally, in the past decade, we’ve been conditioned to believe that the best beers come in not just cans, but pint-sized cans—starting in the days of Heady Topper and continuing on with what seems likely nearly every hip brewer on the planet today.
Drinkers aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed this pull: Brewers have as well. And not just those aforementioned hip, new brewers. Older breweries have taken note, too, and many of them are trying their products in 16-ounce cans for the first time. For instance, Colorado’s Avery Brewing announced yesterday that it will start selling its flagship White Rascal Belgian-Style White Ale in 16-ounce cans. This development is especially interesting because White Rascal has already been sold in cans for nearly as long as I can remember. (The Denver alt-weekly Westword suggests that Avery actually started canning back in 2010—which just goes to show you how beer has affected my memory!) But these days, apparently the 12-ounce cans that White Rascal currently uses don’t completely cut it, so 16-ounce cans of the beer are on the way.
Now, admittedly, this is definitely not the first time a brewery that offers 12-ounce cans has decided to sell the same beer in larger 16-ounce cans. It’s a simple way to move more product (and attract buyers who want more beer per serving) that has been used by every major brewery in America for generations, from Budweiser to Miller to Coors. But Avery’s decision comes right on the heels of a bit of other interesting news: On Tuesday, I wrote about how Michigan’s Founders Brewing had announced plans to start brewing some of its All Day IPA supply in Avery’s Colorado brewery. That story came courtesy of the site Good Beer Hunting which also delved into Avery’s disappointing production numbers over the past three years…
“[Avery] has seen production levels flatten drastically,” Good Beer Hunting wrote. “After growing by 7% in 2015 (52,805 BBLs) and 18% in 2016 (62,097 BBLs), barrels were up just 2% in 2017 (63,250 BBLs), according to numbers reported by the Brewers Association. Earlier this year, the company said it wouldn’t reveal how much beer it would produce in 2018, and at least according to figures tracked by IRI, things weren’t looking great.”
Avery—which, for the record, still makes perfectly solid beer—has been around since 1993, making it one of the older brands on the market. And last year, the company sold a 30 percent stake to Spain’s Mahou San Miguel, giving its craft beer cred a bit of a hit. Clearly, Avery has plenty of reasons to try putting its top-selling beer in 16-ounce cans, but isn’t it possible that simply joining in with the cool kids might be one of them?
Obviously, that sentiment was nowhere to be found in Avery’s announcement. “We can’t wait to get these into the market,” Ryan Minior, Director of Field Sales at Avery Brewing, was quoted as saying. “White Rascal is such a bright, refreshing, and easy drinking beer that having a 16oz package option is great for those who may not have quick access for refills. We are looking to get it into stadiums, mountain resorts, concert venues, and more local liquor stores on the single shelf.”
Personally, I don’t spend a lot of time at mountain resorts, so I can’t imagine I’ll be seeing 16-ounce cans of White Rascal there. But on local store shelves? Yeah, Avery might be more likely to catch my eye as I make my usual subconscious move towards the pint-sized cans. I’ll still be grabbing something from a hip, new brewery, but maybe seeing that 16-ounce White Rascal will give me fond memories of when I first enjoyed it in a 12-ounce can eight years ago.