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I have quite a bit of knowledge on this specific aspect […]
I have quite a bit of knowledge on this specific aspect of craft beer and can give you the following reasons
Stigma - Up until the last several years, most of the major craft beer players exclusively bottled beer. As such, there was just a perception by the general public that a can was inferior and that good beer only comes in bottles. In actuality the can has several advantages over the bottle including a better seal and being impervious to UV rays allowing a can to better protect the flavor of the beer longer. But again, it was more of a perceptionFermenters Manufacturers thing. In fact a big reason for the perceptions was back in the late 80’s/early 90’s a lot of the soft drink manufacturers were going away from bottles. At the same time craft beer was in its infancy. At the time, craft became synonymous with bottles because craft brewers were able to get these canning lines cheaper at the time used. It hasn’t been until recently that many have started incorporating cans.
The biggest thing for most smaller breweries is working capital. If you bottle your beer, you can buy one generic bottle style and then apply a different label to it depending on the beer you put in it. So if you buy a truckload of bottles, you can use those bottles for any of the beers you make. However, with cans if you want to use a pre-printed can….you have to buy a truckload full of each style of can at a time or else you typically incur extra charges. A truckload is 25 pallets of cans. That may not sound like a lot but for a smaller brewery, it may take several months to go through that truckload. Now, depending on how many beers you can, you would need a truckload for each. You also have longer lead times on the cans since they are specific to your beer compared to a generic bottle. In fact it can be a challenge to find time to run your cans. Big manufacturers are used to running millions of cans at a time. It isn’t very economical for them to switch over and run your breweries 25 pallets worth of cans, so they sometimes have long lead times on when they will run them for you. So you have a relatively large amount of your cash tied up in packaging inventory if you go with cans and it can have long lead Wholesale Fermenter Supplierstimes which makes it hard for you to schedule your ordering.
Lastly, I can’t speak for bottling lines, but their aren’t many canning lines out there. It seems like their are a lot of small canning line, but not a lot of medium size ones. So when you outgrow your small one, you might have to go to a big rotary line that costs a significant amount.
That being said you do have some alternatives. Like one poster said, mobile canning lines are becoming a thing. However, you will pay more for the service (but it will save you the initial capital outlay on a canning line). We have also dabbled in using shrink wrapped cans. With those you buy a pre-printed shrink wrap and have it applied to a plain silver can. So that way you just need one style of can, that can be used for multiple flavors. The problem with this is between the can, the label and the shrink wrap application, it can cost up to 3 times the cost of a pre-printed can. Also it doesn’t look or feel as good as pre-printed