Earlier this month canned beer received some prominence when it was featured in a story by NPR: Craft Beer In A Can? A Gutsy Move Is Paying Off. It focuses primarily on Alaska but also touches on Oskar Blues Brewing (who has become the defacto poster child for canned craft beer, I think). It dovetails nicely into Canned Beer Week and has a few interesting tidbits about beer in Alaska to boot.
But [beverage distributor John] Burket didn’t have many converts in Anchorage until early this year, when the city stopped recycling glass. Since then, he’s watched the market for good canned beer explode. In Anchorage, the cans often cost a dollar or two more a six-pack than similar beer in bottles. But Burket says even that doesn’t seem to matter.
“Actually the biggest problem we have now is trying to get more and more in. We get some in, we run out, we get some in, we run out.”
That supply issue is one Clay Brackley knows well. He’s the head brewer at the Sleeping Lady Brewery in downtown Anchorage. A few years ago, the pub invested in a small hand-canning system, to package its Urban Wilderness pale ale. In the beginning, Brackley says, sales were bleak. “The first couple of years were very depressing, very tough,” he says.
But then this summer rolled around.
“It’s been insane this year. It’s been over a thousand times what we did last year,” he says. “They sell faster than we can make them.”
(Seems odd that an entire city would stop recycling glass, but apparently there’s just too much of it—it costs too much to ship it out of Alaska, among other things.)
Incidentally, I believe Sleeping Lady Brewery is Alaska’s only craft brewer to can their beers.