Here's why more craft brewers are canning beer

What is the advantage of canning vs. bottling beer?

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - More and more craft brewers are switching part of their production from bottled beer to canned. But why? Since Wednesday, Jan. 24, is Canned Beer Appreciation Day, we set out to get answers.

Because Founders Brewing Company is able to can 800 beers per minute, we figured that would be a good place to start.

"The real advantage with cans is that they're recycled more," said Founders chief production officer Brad Stevenson.

"They're actually easier to move through the system more often than [a] bottle is, so they're better on the resource side in the long run, and also they weigh less, so there's a real and distinct advantage on freight."

Founders had always been bottling their beer, but customers wanted to take their beer places they couldn't take glass -- the beach, out hiking, on the river, or the ski slopes just to name a few. So in the last five years, Founders started canning their beer.

They started with All Day IPA, expecting canning to be about 10% of their market. Now, it's more than 60% of all packaged beer sold.

"We have a very active customer base and they like to move this beer around and cans are easier to do that with," Stevenson said.

"The 15 pack has been phenomenally successful, so I think you have many things coming together that drove that success."

The lakeshore-based New Holland Brewing Company recently released its beer in cans for the first time, and its brewers plan to expand their canning options in 2018. They echoed Founders' sentiments on mobility in a recent interview with our partners at the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

“Having cans is going to ultimately benefit our consumer — our beer will be able to travel more places in a package that is desirable for people on the go,” said New Holland founder and president Brett VanderKamp.

But if you prefer bottles, you're not out of luck.

"There's occurrences where I want to buy a beer in a bottle and there's others where I want a can and others where I want a draft beer," Stevenson said. "

I think that's still pretty common and probably will be for some time."

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