It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
I was in our favorite beer store the other day just seeing what was new. One beer caught my
eye so I went to pick up the cans to read some of the details on the label. I was shocked - it
was a six pack. I immediately put it down as my first thought was good craft doesn't come in six
packs. No laughing at me Bill. Just look down any aisle in any good beer shop and I'll bet you
will be hard pressed to find the six-pack format instead of the 16-ounce four-packs. Just ask
any beer drinker what's the first thing that comes to their mind when the hear "six pack" and I
bet it's Budweiser or Coors or Miller. Six packs equate to watery macro lager.
Think back about five years ago when aluminum cans became the focus of craft instead of
glass bottles. I remember when craft beer fanatics like us were lining up outside Vermont's
The Alchemist to buy its Heady Topper IPA,. If memory serves it was one of the first beers sold
in 16-ounce four-packs.(Dales' Pale might have been the first) The beer was so good and it's
popularity so great that even its choice of can became the craft standard.
Heady's big can's design too became iconic. It stood out visually. A 16-ounce-size can offers a
bigger canvas for artwork and brand design. Important things in the marketplace.
One argument I've heard against the 16 ounce 4 pack is that larger containers could lead
consumers to drink too much. That doesn't make much sense to me., In fact the opposite may
be true. I mean that in a way the pint can might actually decrease consumption — a single pint
often satisfies people who would otherwise open a second 12-ounce can
Bill. I understand that demand drives a market and that an increased resale value is how it
works. .And to be honest I personally I don’t care that CBS sells for $10,000 since I wouldn’t
be buying it. But maybe it's not that simple. I have a nagging feeling that this inflated
price/trading can eventually hurt craft beer as a whole and us as beer drinkers.
Ask any retailer and they'll tell you it's the 4 pack that sells. In the past two years alone, sales
of canned craft beer have grown by 33 percent, while bottle sales have declined 12 percent,
according to Nielsen Data. In fact if you remember last summer, the rising demand for cans
caused delayed shipments of aluminum to area breweries.
All of this means 'm now adding a new rule to Gina's Guide to Beer Buying - only buy 4 packs.
That goes right behind always check the production date, and stay away from anything "on
sale", dusty, or .without an Independent Seal.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time!
Hello Gina -
You're obviously right about cans and the 4 pack. It's impossible not to notice that the
aluminum beverage can, due to its functionality and sustainability attributes, is becoming the
package of choice for beer and soft drink fillers across the country, And that ever increasing
use of cans has made the price of production lines more affordable which brings more into the
Cans also offer logistical advantages for brewers. For example a truckload of beer-filled cans
contains four times the amount of liquid as a truck loaded with bottled beer. Using fewer trucks
helps the company save on packaging and labor, and creates less carbon emissions. Canning
also helps protect the quality of the product from its two enemies, light and oxygen.. A can
shields the liquid from light more efficiently than glass and air that can leak into a bottle through
the cap. And lastly today’s canned beer tastes a lot better than it used to. The technology has
changed substantially. Gina, I'm sure you recall that metallic taste we got from some beers in
the can. Well that is only a memory. You won't find it anymore.
Now that we've agreed that cans are indeed the vessel of today and the future let me give you
my take on the 4 pack. .
Think about the price, Gina. The 4 pack is generally higher meaning you get less beer at a
higher cost. I'm no math wiz but the 4 pack had 64 ounces while the 6 pack has 72. Hope you're
not shocked at that. I wasn't since it's happening everywhere. When I went to the grocery
store, a half gallon or orange juice is now 1.6 quarts for the same price. I bought a can of
Barbosol shave cream that looked like the same size when I grabbed it off the shelf but then saw
it was at least 25% smaller.
Also think about the fact that 80% of the cans are lined with BPA. For some the jury is out on
it's dangers but it's something to consider. While I like a pint of beer I bet for some people that's
too much of a commitment. And isn't it interesting that virtually every imported beer -- from
Europe, anyway -- comes only in 11.2 oz cans or bottles, As a matter of fact, if a traditionally
imported beer comes in 12 oz sizes these days, to me it's a sign that it was brewed and bottled
in US breweries and not really "imported".
Gina, it's clear the 4 pack is here to stay and to me that's a good thing. Oh one last thought.
Supposedly, the magic number 6 was a result of studies conducted to determine the ideal
weight for the average housewife to carry home from the store. Ouch.
Here's looking at you Gina