2021 Craft Beer & Packaging Trends

Craft Beer & Packaging Trends

In 1873, there were 4,131 breweries registered in the United States. This number began to dwindle and eventually reached zero during the prohibition age. A slow rebirth throughout history and the introduction of craft breweries helped this number regrow to 1,813 by 2010. In the last few years, strong demand for locally made beer from small and independent breweries has led to a new record high of over 8,000 breweries being operated across the country. It's estimated that 75% of adults aged 21 or older live within 10 miles of a brewery. Cheers to that!

We’re all about challenging the status quo and no industry has done it better than the craft beer industry. Brewers continue to introduce innovative styles and a seemingly endless amount of flavors. (PB&J Strawberry Milkshake anyone?) With so many new beers being released, how does one stand out from the crowd? Here are the latest trends in the craft beer industry.

Breweries were forced out of their element in 2020 and had to adapt to their typical distribution channels of bars, taprooms, restaurants, stadiums, and local events being unavailable. Through it all, breweries were still able to find innovative ways to connect with their customers.

More Accessibility

COVID mandates across the country over the last year pushed breweries to rethink their distribution plans. Curbside pickup, local delivery, and online sales became an essential way to get beer out the door. Subscription services like Tavour have seen a steep increase in attention. Some breweries like East Brother Beer Company even started their own monthly subscription services to offer customers another way to buy their beers. This shift from draft sales to packaged beer should continue as it could take years for on-premise consumption to fully recover.

Expanding to the Outdoors

Maximizing outdoor spaces to create more space for visitors will also remain essential for taprooms. Many breweries got creative with their outdoor areas by converting parking lots into beer gardens or expanding current outdoor seating. The addition of fire pits, heaters, domes, and more have become popular so customers can enjoy a fresh brew in the fresh air no matter the season.

Increased 12-Pack Sales

According to Nielsen, sales of canned 12-packs increased by 15% in 2020. This has caused many breweries to add 12-pack options of their most popular beers. Bulk buying was a trend many industries saw last year. For the beer industry, customer loyalty and consumers wanting the best bang for their buck is behind the increase in demand.

Brand Focused Designs

Due to brand loyalty becoming more prevalent over the last year, focusing on increasing brand awareness via bottle or can labels and packaging is a focus for many breweries. Designs where the product names are front and center while showcasing the brand's personality work well to grab buyer attention and offer transparency into what the beer offers. Including the beer style and a brief, catchy tagline description lets the drinker know exactly what to expect.

Meet Our Resident Beer Expert

Ryan Hall - Inside Sales and Beer Packaging Specialist

We'd like like to introduce you to inside sales rep and beer connoisseur, Ryan Hall. We turn to Ryan when we have a customer call in for packaging help and of course when we need a new beer suggestion.

First off, what is your favorite beer?

My favorite beer is a free craft brewed beer! As far as beer style is concerned, Imperial stouts, Doppelbocks, and Tripels are a three-way tie.

What sparked your interest in craft beer?

My interest in craft beer started in 2004 when I was invited to participate in an event called a “Big Brew”. The owners (Marc and Katina Buttera) of Point Brew Supply invited friends and homebrew club members to their house to brew beer. I took home some wort and yeast and I was officially a homebrewer! I still like to attend any “Big Brew” in the area, however, I typically volunteer to be on the food committee.

Ryan Hall and his Homebrew Club

What brought you to Rocket Industrial?

What brought me to Rocket was the unique opportunity to join an organization that not only takes pride in being a great place to work, but has all the right tools in place for an individual to grow in their career. Rocket Industrial is on the cutting edge of many technological fronts which makes it an exciting time to work here.

According to the Brewer’s Association, two new breweries open for the first time every day. Do you see saturation in the craft beer market becoming a problem?

Not at this time, and certainly not in Wisconsin. As drinking and driving laws become stricter, there appears to be an undercurrent of “if I am only going to have one beer, it needs to be a really good one." Beer drinkers' preferences have been evolving, with more and more people enjoying craft beer.

Craft Beer Purchase Decision

What advice do you have for breweries looking to differentiate their product?

Local tie-ins are what draws me in to visit a craft brewery and am excited to know more about them. When most if not all the ingredients are locally sourced and partnerships are made with other area businesses, it's a win-win all around.

Can We Get an 'Ale Yeah' to Better Packaging!?

When you work with Rocket Industrial, we are committed to brewing up new solutions to reduce your cost per pack and make your packaging more sustainable. Contact a packaging specialist today to get started on optimizing your packaging operations.

Learn more about beverage packaging.Learn more about beverage packaging.Learn more about beverage packaging.