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Independent brewers have always prized novelty, and their customers tend to reward that. The spirit that drives us to revive historical beer styles, push the envelope with new hop varieties, or explore the possibilities of obscure farmhouse yeasts is also nudging breweries toward altering their customers’ experiences with packaged beer.
The pace of change can be dizzying. It was only a few years ago that cans were a viable alternative to bottles, rather than the virtual default for craft beer—and we could say the same about the shift from 12-ounce toward 16-ounce sizes. The pandemic kicked that pace of change into a higher gear, as larger packs became white-hot—when customers filled their shopping carts and garage fridges to stock up for the unknown—but now they are already starting to cool. Meanwhile—especially for breweries more accustomed to selling beer in their taprooms than in their local supermarket chains—this has been the year of the Crowler, as manufacturers of can seamers have seen their business expand while struggling to keep up with demand.
Briefly, here are some of the latest shifts in the packaging landscape, providing a sneak preview into what the world of beer packaging could look like in 2021.