For those who are just coming into the craft brewing game, there is a lot of information to catch up on when it comes to storing and distributing your products. By now, you've probably heard of crowlers, bombers, growlers, and maybe a few other container names that are currently in use. So how does a brewery decide which containers to use and how they are going to use them effectively? This guide will walk you through all of the pros and cons that each container has to offer for you and your customers.
What is the Difference?
Before we can get into the pros and cons, we first need to identify the various options available to you. Crowlers are a recent addition to the lineup. These 32-ounce aluminum cans are designed to be filled and sealed on site using professional canning equipment. They are not resealable, but they can be shipped easily. You can read up on the history of Crowlers here.
Next up is Bombers. A bomber usually refers to an oversized glass bottle that holds 22 ounces of beer. Bombers have been around for a long time, and have often been used to store and ship specialty beers, like those with a high ABV. These bottles are less common today than they once were, but for breweries who want to score points for authenticity, they do add something to the final package.
Finally, Growlers are one of today's hottest sellers. A growler is a refillable container that holds 64 ounces of beer. People buy growlers and take them to their local breweries to be filled at the tap. Then they can seal it up and take it home. Growlers are traditionally made of glass, and they look more like a jug than a beer bottle. Some companies also make half-Growlers, called Howlers.
Which One is Right For You?
Now that you understand what each term means, we can compare them side by side to choose the right product for you. Crowlers are extremely popular among breweries who want to sell beer in stores as well as in their brewery. Crowlers use all of the same packaging practices that regular canned beers use, maintaining the freshness of the product. In addition, the cans are lightweight and cost-effective, so you can buy them, fill them and ship them out the way any large-scale operation would. The biggest benefit is that customers love the large size of the cans.
Bombers tend to be used only for special releases and visual displays. They look great, and the dark glass does protect the beer from sunlight and air penetration. However, glass bottles are already pretty expensive, and buying glass bottles in an unusual size can become quite costly. If you are doing a limited release, and you want to ship your beer in a collectible bottle, this might be the right choice for you.
On the other end of the spectrum, Growlers represent a great opportunity for both your beer and your marketing. Growlers must be filled on site at your brewery, which means you need to be prepared to handle the demand. However, consumers love being able to fill up a growler and take it home with their favorite beer of the week. While the growler can be opened and resealed multiple times, it does somewhat degrade the quality of the beer over time, but most buyers are willing to take the tradeoff in order to have your beer in their home, especially since the first pour comes from the freshest possible source. Even with a screw top lid, you can't completely avoid air getting through the seal. In addition, Growlers are large and heavy, and they do not ship well. These are best as a local product that consumers can take with them when they leave your brewery, and refill whenever they make a trip back. On the plus side, consumers typically get a good deal on filling up a growler to take home, which leads to repeat customers. Having a growler stamped with your brand name in their fridge is a good reminder that they need to visit your brewery again.
With crowlers, bombers, and growlers you can put your products in the hands of many different consumers at once. Each type of container serves a different need for your products and customers. You will likely find that a mix of two or more container types helps you reach a wider audience. Just remember, you want all of your containers to present a consistent image of your brewery. That's why you need to schedule a free beer labeling consultation with Pack Leader USA today.
Read The Brewer’s Guide To Craft Beer & Microbrew Labeling Equipment