Forget bottles. Cans are here to stay, Ontario beer drinkers
Brewer, beer writer say breweries ditching bottles as stores demand cans, glass prices blow up
Not long ago, a certain type of beer drinker would snub any ale sold in cans and purchase — almost exclusively — beer packaged in bottles, assuming it was the superior vessel.
But those days are over, at least in Ontario, due to skyrocketing glass prices, a global supply shortage and retailers who prefer canned beer, said David Reed, who owns Forked River Brewing in London, Ont.
"There's been a shift in consumer acceptance of cans. It was to the point where grocery stores wouldn't take your product if it was in a bottle," said Reed.
Grocery stores prefer cans because they take up less space on shelves, he said.
And bottles are expensive these days.
Since Reed opened his brewery nine years ago, glass prices have steadily increased, which is why Forked River switched to cans a few years ago.
"Definitely we've seen the prices in glass bottles go up 70 per cent in the last four or five years," said Reed, who pointed to glass plants shutting down or relocating.
"We've really pivoted to cans," he said. "We have a bottling line here that basically collects dust because we've moved to mostly cans."
Until recently, the brewery was still bottling its higher-end, barrel-aged beers, but even those are now packaged in cans, said Reed. The brewery has also dumped selling new growlers too.
Cans are better anyway
"The current trend toward cans in Ontario wasn't actually driven by breweries or even consumer choices," said London-based beer writer Ben Johnson.
Because the LCBO is the biggest game in town, breweries deliver what it wants, said Johnson.
According to both Reed and Johnson, cans are safer to transport, fully recyclable and don't break. They also now have better liners to protect the taste of the beer, and have better airtight seal than bottles.
"The two main enemies of beer are air and light," he said. "Beer in cans is much better protected from the things that can oxidize your beer or make it taste skunky."