September 11-15, 2017
Category: Packaging

Cheers to Glass

From the time Left Hand Brewing started making beer back in 1993, the craft brewer’s choice for packaging has been glass bottles. And, despite the increasing use of cans by some craft brewers, according to Joe Schiraldi, vice president of brewing operations for Left Hand, the company has no intentions—at least as of now—to mess with a good thing. “Why change something that doesn’t need to be changed?” he says.

Quality glass, Schiraldi says, continues to be the only package he trusts to protect his beer. “One of the things for us from a bottling perspective has always been quality,” he says. “I am of the opinion now that canning technologies are in the same spot that bottling technologies were 20 years ago in terms of the size of our operation, and that the quality parameters of a slower operating canning line do not match our expectations for quality of our product in the package. The bottom line is for a bottling line that is 200 bottles a minute, you’re not going to get a canning line that is going to give you as good a quality fill as a bottling line will now. The technology’s not there at that speed.”

Left Hand Brewing partners with O-I for its glass bottles, and has been very pleased with the relationship. About six years ago, O-I opened a new glass plant in nearby Windsor, Colorado that now supplies Left Hand’s brewery in nearby Longmont. The proximity is a plus, allowing Schiraldi and his team to even visit the plant if they need to. And new manufacturing processes at the state of the art plant provide Left Hand with stronger bottles that have thinner walls and weigh less.

The bottle integrity of the glass O-I supplies Left Hand has been especially important for products like its Milk Stout Nitro. “We are the only brewery in the U.S. that produces a nitrogenated beer in a glass package—in any package—that I’m aware of. And the glass quality is critical,” Schiraldi says.

Craft whiskey maker Balcones Distilling, of Waco, Texas, also only trusts its award-winning product to glass, and specifically, O-I. Says Chip Tate, the company’s founder, president and head distiller: “Every bottle we get from them is spot on and that’s really important because other than me, we don’t have a QC department. We really depend on our suppliers to get their part and O-I’s done a great job with that.”

Also, O-I works with smaller craft distillers like Balcones, whose requirements can vary widely. “Our volumes are small and they’re also variable,” says Tate. “We can’t afford to buy a whole bunch of bottles that we’re not quite ready to use and at the same time, we’ll turn around and we’ll have some 10-pallet order from France or something and call them and say, ‘Hey, we need 12 pallets of glass right now.’ So they’ve really been great with warehousing, just all the parts, basically not making it our problem. That’s kind of the bottom-line issue for me. Are you able and willing as a business to do what you do to let me focus on what I do?”

Here are examples of how other beverage marketers and are using glass packaging for their brands:

Beck’s Sapphire
The making of a black glass bottle is much more complex than your standard amber, blue, green or flint-colored glass bottles. It took 2 years of work with Beck’s suppliers to develop and perfect the technique that achieves the correct coloration of Sapphire’s signature black bottle. And the company actually invested nearly $2 million to this process to ensure the black glass met Beck’s standards.

After the R&D was complete, Beck’s produced a black glass bottle that provides a unique, high-end image for Sapphire while also providing for better protection for the beer than standard brown bottles.

Beck’s has a history of developing unique packaging. Previous examples consist of Beck’s being the first beer brand to export with green glass, the first to use a steel keg and also the first to have known artists curate the actual labels.

Alacran Tequila
The Mezcal Alacrán white bottle is a glass package, oven-painted for a soft-to-touch feeling with a matte look. The supplier is Vitro Mexico. It is Alacran Tequila’s newest product. The company notes that Mezcal Alacrán already is growing rapidly in the United States and abroad because of its sleek look and great taste.

Alova Sparkling Aloe Vera Beverage
Novamex, producer and marketer for renowned Mexican brands such as Jarritos premium Mexican soda, has launched Alova, the first natural, sparkling, aloe vera beverage. Novamex has entered into a partnership with The Fresh Market to be the exclusive retailer for the Alova line of premium, healthful aloe vera beverages featured in all of their 127 stores in 25 states. It is packaged in a custom-designed proprietary glass bottle 330 ML (11.16 ounces), Also, Lopez Marketing Group had the opportunity to work with the product’s developers to create a unique label that would communicate the quality, freshness, organic features and overall wholesomeness of the Alova beverage flavors through a clean and
slick design.  

Skyy Vodka’s Limited Edition amfAR Bottle
SKYY Vodka and the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), one of the leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to ending the global AIDS epidemic, partnered this past holiday season to launch the exclusive SKYY Vodka Blue Velvet Limited Edition Bottle. The sophisticated-looking, soft-to-touch bottle is flocked with an intricate, blue velvet pattern—a design element SKYY says has never before been used in the
spirits industry.

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