A series of recent beer recalls has prompted the Brewers Association to offer new guidance to its members, recommending greater scrutiny of canned beers and canning processes.
Canned-beer sales are growing, while bottled beer is slowing. For America’s craft brewers (as defined by the BA), sales data suggest that the volume of beer sold in cans is likely to surpass the volume of beer sold in bottles sometime this year. Meanwhile, more of the country’s 8,000-plus breweries will follow perceived customer demand for canned beer.
Our recent Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® Best in Beer reader survey also found surging interest in canned beer, especially in the 16 oz format, over the past three years. Meanwhile, our readers’ interest in buying 12 oz bottles has dropped each year since 2017.
The BA notes a few possible causes of an increased number of issues with canning. They include a wider range of beer types being canned, a wider range of can liner materials and film weights, and the growing number of brewers who are choosing to package in cans.
In an Industry Update posted January 2 for BA members, the association urges greater scrutiny of canned beers that are more acidic, saltier, stronger, have more sulfur dioxide, or have more residual yeast. The guidance urges brewers to get to know the wide range of canning materials available, to work with suppliers to understand their compatibility with specific beers, and to communicate their needs to can suppliers and manufacturers.
The BA also advises brewers to keep beers of different brands at room temperature, even beyond their expiration dates, to test them regularly for quality issues. Among other things, these can include sensory issues, oxygenation, carbonation, and failures of package integrity.
The BA also offers guidance on what to do in case a voluntary recall is necessary.
A handful of voluntary recalls have made local or national headlines in recent months:
- In November, Southern Tier Brewing (Lakewood, New York) recalled cans of Chocolate Milkshake Nitro and Pumking Nitro, citing concerns that they could burst open due to “slightly too much nitrogen.”
- In September, Two Roads Brewing (Stratford, Connecticut) recalled cans of two IPAs, Lil’ Heaven and Lil’ Juicy, not for safety reasons but because of a “noticeable sulfur-like aroma” and unpleasant taste.
- Also in September, Jailbreak Brewing (Laurel, Maryland) recalled two batches of its Special Lady Friend IPA, citing the presence of diastaticus yeast, which can lead to super-attenuation and over-pressurized cans prone to exploding.
- In August, Mean Max Brew Works (Glens Falls, New York) recalled some canned beers due to fears that they could explode.