What the ‘Craft Can’ Means

St Austell Korev in cans.

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”.

11 thoughts on “What the ‘Craft Can’ Means”

  1. What a load of tosh.
    Can­ning is cheap­er to do, cans are cheap­er to trans­port because they weigh a lot less, they keep beer in bet­ter con­di­tion than bot­tles and 3rd par­ty can­ning is only as much of an issue as 3rd par­ty bot­tling is any­way.

    1. I feel like you’re annoyed at some­thing we haven’t said.

      Can’t argue with the prac­ti­cal advan­tages of cans from the sup­ply side – they’re eas­i­er for shops to stack and store, too – but that’s hard­ly why beer geeks are get­ting excit­ed every time a brew­ery such as Cam­den announces they’re going to start using them.

  2. Is a “crafty” defined as some­one who is pre­pared to pay over the odds for beer in trendy child-sized bot­tles or cans? Korev is basi­cal­ly a pre­mi­um com­peti­tor to Stel­la – it’s not exact­ly Hard­core IPA.

    1. Korev is basi­cal­ly a pre­mi­um com­peti­tor to Stel­la – it’s not exact­ly Hard­core IPA.”

      No, and nor is Cam­den Hells, which is one of the oth­er UK beers that’s made it into this style of can.

      Why did Korev not go into 440 or 500ml cans? Because they’re naff and down-mar­ket. Why are they naff and 330ml cans aren’t? Prej­u­dice and fash­ion.

      1. 330 ml? What kind of weird met­ric mea­sure is that? Real craft beer comes in a 355 ml can (or bot­tle), because.

        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

        When you spell it out like this it all looks a bit… sil­ly, some­how. Gen­er­a­tional, if you know what I mean.

        1. A lot of this reminds me of when young, go-ahead drinkers reject­ed fud­dy-dud­dy dim­pled tankards for sleev­ers. And then the next gen­er­a­tion of hip­sters took up the dim­pled mugs again…

  3. Inter­est­ing. In Den­mark, the stan­dard can is 330 ml and has been for a long time. Bot­tles are most­ly 330 ml for stan­dard beer (which in Den­mark is Carls­berg, Tuborg, Roy­al Uni­brew and count­less dis­count offer­ings). Both bot­tles and cans for micro­brew­eries are usu­al­ly 500 ml. In oth­er words, the trend is com­plete­ly oppo­site the UK trend!

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