St Austell have announced that they are putting their lager, Korev, into 330ml cans.
In their press release, they explicitly present this as an embrace of ‘craft beer’:
The craft beer revolution continuing to sweep America has now resulted in the unexpected return of the humble beer can as the container of choice for over 400 US breweries – and now this trend is crossing the pond.
Canned beer certainly isn’t new and you can go into any supermarket in Britain and find shelves filled with tins of London Pride, Bass and other somewhat interesting beers. But those are 440ml or 500ml containers, and have long been the budget option in a market where the upmarket choice is a ‘premium bottled ale’ (PBA).
The new generation of ‘craft cans’ are materially identical but look like soft drinks – cute little R2-D2s which sit neatly in the hand, and slip easily into rucksacks and handbags for train journeys and trips to the beach. And for stronger beers, or those that are more strongly flavoured, 330ml is plenty. Some people even report that beers taste fresher from cans, perhaps because they are better protected from the light.
Their real significance, though, in our view, is cultural.
If the Campaign for Real Ale liked traditional pubs, ‘craft beer’** likes chrome’n’neon bars; ‘craft beer’ rejects cask-conditioned ale in favour of keg; it chooses IPA over best bitter; and now it is embracing cans over the 500ml bottles which seemed so exciting when they appeared in supermarkets from the late 1980s onward.
In the post-BrewDog era, cans are yet another way to underline the changing of the guard. But they are also a way for the old guard to take a slice of the cake. After all, they do own most of the canning lines in the country.
** We’ve updated our page explaining what we mean by ‘craft beer’. In this case, we’re using 2: “…used to describe a ‘movement’ arising from c.1997 onwards which rejected not only ‘mass-produced’ beer but also the trappings of established ‘real ale’ culture”.