The Age of Aluminum

As expected at last month’s Craft Brewing Conference (CBC) & BrewExpo America in Denver, the can was the star package.

Ball Corp. enjoyed enhanced visibility on a couple of fronts, thanks to its work with Oskar Blues Brewing Co.

A total of 145 Colorado Brewers Guild member breweries collaborated on this year’s CBC commemorative symposium beer, Centennial Pale Ale. Centennial, which was brewed at Oskar Blues and distributed to all attendees at the registration desk and at various Oskar Blues events around Denver that week, was packaged in 19.2 ounce and the first American craft beer to use Ball’s Dynamark variable printing technology.

The technology created a collection of cans, each with a single letter or digit, which, when arranged, spelled “2014 CBC Colorado.” Oskar Blues also used CBC as its launching pad for Old Chub Nitro, the nitrogen-infused version of its popular Scotch-style ale. Each 16-ounce can of Old Chub Nitro includes a Ball-developed widget that releases nitrogen when the can is opening, producing a much creamier head and mouthfeel.
 
Supplier Crown also has built its presence in the craft brewing segment, especially as more and more small brewers embrace the package.

“We went from having fewer than 50 customers at the end of 2012 to just shy of 200 at the end of 2013,” reports Crown’s craft brand manager, Brian Thiel. “And I would say that as of today we probably have 250 craft customers.”
One of the new innovations it showcased last month was its can with a matte finish. “It’s a specialty finish that we do,” explains Thiel. “As opposed to most cans that have more of a glossy, varnished look, this has more of that Harley-Davidson flat black look to everything.” The matte can that it displayed was a custom job that it did for Boulder, Colo.’s Sanitas Brewing.

The craft canning surge obviously has generated a great deal of activity for companies that supply metal to can makers, as well. Among those is Novelis, which says it’s the largest recycler of aluminum cans in the world.
Novelis had a great deal to celebrate, as it announced that Georgia’s Red Hare Brewing Co. became the first craft beer customer for its Evercan, made mostly of recycled aluminum. “Craft brewers are very focused on sustainability,” notes Novelis director of business development Eric Anderson, “and we’ve really kind of found this as a sweet spot for us to promote our product and get it out in the marketplace.”

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