Boxed Beer: A Good Idea That Probably Won't Catch On
Colorado’s Primitive Beer plans to only sell its still lambics on tap or in bag-in-boxes.
Over the past decade, the once humble can has emerged as the hottest beer packaging on the market. Even the wine industry has taken notice, with canned wines getting trendy in their own right. But now, a new Colorado brewery is taking a cue from the wine industry with a plan to sell all of its to-go beer in boxes.
Bag-in-box beers aren’t unheard of. According to beer writer Michael Jackson, a California brewery called Golden Pacific was serving beer this way back in the ‘80s. With over 6,000 breweries in the U.S., it’s also very possible someone out there might still be doing it today. But for Longmont’s Primitive Beer, which opens this Saturday, selling beer in a box is more than just an interesting gimmick.
Primitive Beer will be specializing in uncarbonated lambic-style sour beers which will be sold either on tap or to-go in 1.5-liter bag-in-boxes. The fact that these beers are still instead of bubbly instantly means they are more predisposed to boxes than fizzy beer that would be more susceptible to going flat in such a large format packaging. Additionally, in Belgium, where the lambic style of beer hails from, selling beer in bags is more common than in the States, so the decision to go with bag-in-box packaging has a pedigree to it as well.
Along those same lines, Brandon Boldt, who owns the brewery with his wife, Lisa, told Westword that the lower overhead of selling beer in boxes tips its hat to Belgium in another regard. “We’ve always wanted to use the Belgian methodology, which is not to overcharge,” he explained. Still, he admits that people may be slow to accept an unusual style (still lambics) in such an unusual packaging. “This is definitely an experiment,” he added.
No matter how successful this experiment is, however, boxed beer will probably not become the next big thing like cans, at least not in such a large, 1.5-liter format. Unlike wine (or even cider where boxes are commonly used in the U.K.), still beer makes up such a tiny percentage of the American beer market that switching to boxes isn’t a practical packing option for the vast majority of brews. Still, the novelty that creates could definitely prove to be a fruitful niche for Primitive moving forward. Boxed beverages always seem to be quite the conversation starters.
That said, if you want to go grab some bag-in-box beer for yourself, be forewarned, Primitive is planning to keep very limited hours. The taproom will only be open twice a month on the second and fourth Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m.