Sightlines — Red Brick Brewing to Ditch Bottles Almost Entirely

Austin Ray
cans.jpg

THE GIST
Atlanta’s Red Brick Brewing has detailed plans to drop bottles from its lineup, shifting its year-round and seasonal portfolio to canned packaging. Founded in 1993, Red Brick is Georgia’s oldest brewery, yet the company only canned its first beer in 2014.

WHY IT MATTERS
Not so long ago, aluminum was largely viewed as the disreputable cousin of glass in the beer packaging family. For starters, people thought cans tinged the beer itself with a metallic taste. Second, the can simply failed the optics test. Aluminum was employed by corporate beer giants to cut costs, while real brewers—the artisans—treated their beer to glass. Not only are those days dead and gone, the industry seems well on its way to a 180 degree turn on the subject.
 
Here’s Red Brick president and brewmaster, Garrett Lockhart, on the company’s decision: “We continue to focus on sustainability and we feel that cans are a more sustainable option. Aluminum is one of the most widely recycled consumer packages in the United States. In addition, aluminum provides our products complete protection from harmful UV light.”
 
It’s a short quote with quite a bit worth unpacking. Let’s start where he does: sustainability. He mentions recycling, but also worth a nod is the fact that aluminum is lighter in weight, literally, which means it’s cheaper to ship and carries a smaller carbon footprint. So when he says it’s sustainable, think “green” both ways. As far as the issue of taste goes, it’s no secret that most cans these days are lined on the inside with a polymer coating to protect the liquid from any metal injection, real or imagined.
 
There’s a second bit that’s interesting here as well. Although Red Brick no doubt paved the way for the many craft breweries in Georgia, it’s clear now the company is taking a page from the playbook of those that followed them. And they’re hardly alone there. Boston Beer, considered by many to be the godfather of American craft beer, only began canning in 2013. Stone, which makes the types of hop bombs so popular in 16 oz. aluminum vessels, announced they’d make their first foray into canning in Berlin, with America to follow. New Glarus, too, announced earlier this summer plans to begin canning. Those are all top 50 companies following in the footsteps of those they blazed the trail for. It’s no coincidence and you can bet that trend will continue.
 
As for Red Brick, you can expect the transition to take effect this January. The company also specified that select brewery-only releases would continue to be released in glass.

—Dave Eisenberg

READ MORE
Red Brick Brewing Transitions Fully to Cans [The Beer Connoisseur]