Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm All For New Package Sizes

7ozs, 250s, 12ozs, 22s, 500s, 40s, 750s, 1/2 gallon growlers, 1/6 barrels, 1/4 barrels, 1/2 barrels. All great vessels for pouring beer. Heineken and other breweries have tried refrigerator-sized kegs, but the problem is that they lose their carbonation if not consumed immediately - basically they are just large growlers.

But now MillerCoors is testing a new, recyclable, 1.5 gallon refrigerator keg that holds its carbonation. "The boxed product, which is designed to fit into refrigerators for drinkers to consume periodically, rather than for one-time party use." Strangely, the price per ounce will be higher than a case of cans, but MillerCoors is betting that you'll pay a premium for "draught quality" Miller Lite. "The tap comes with a 8 or 16 gram C02 container to release the CO2 into the keg and a tap handle on it."

This type of package size could be pretty interesting in a craft universe. Perfect for those beers that you just like to drink every day. I could see breweries playing with bottle/keg conditioning with this package size to create truly creamy draft-style milk stouts and pale ales and Irish reds that just don't seem to carbonate right in a bottle. It would also be great for seasonal offerings, like Furthermore's Fallen Apple, where a 6-pack isn't quite enough, but consumers aren't going to go back to the store for a second 6-pack before the "season" is over. Moreover, this could really open up some interesting new markets. Small retail facilities like coffee shops or small bars wouldn't need to install a tap system, they could just buy a few of these to sell to the occasional customer. The biggest question is whether this will, in fact, filter down to the craft world. Although, as noted in the above articles, it's really nothing more than a small CO2 canister attached to a mini-keg.

I would buy a draft keg of New Glarus IPA, at $30 every two weeks for the rest of my life.


  1. I was just talking about this with my co-founder Jason. He and I were both of the persuasion that it is kind of dumb to buy it this way for the reasons you mentioned. I.e. the price / volume just isn't economical. But I have read in some research that it does taste pretty damn close to draught quality, so there is a quality point there.

    I do like your twist on the let's make it a craft brew thing. But wasn't there something you wrote a while back about the economics of the plastic beer kegs with smaller brewers, would this be economical for them? I would love to see it, and I would also be willing to pay a premium for GOOD QUALITY beer in a mini-keg.

    Thanks for the links and mentions to our article.


  2. "We're really trying to meet that occasion when you just got back from work and want to reward yourself," rather than "the party occasion," he said.

    ...when I think of reward, I immediately think of triple-hops brewed Miller Lite from a box! Swill is swill no matter the medium. I'm sure it will make for more lame ads though.

    I don't think it's something I'd buy, even if it were sold in craft beer versions. I'm all about variety and trying everything, but 1.5 gallons wouldn't allow for too much variety. Sometimes even a bomber or a 750ml seems like too much beer of one type at once, so 1.5 gallons would be overload.

  3. Looks like a smaller version of a party pig to me. It's recyclable instead of reuseable - and a number of brewpubs use them (I know Hereford&Hops used to).

    Looks like the big brewers are picking up on a package system homebrewers have used for quite a while. They did similar things with the 5L minikegs (Heinekin, Bells, etc) and smaller barrels (1/6) I'm wondering if the Tap-A-Draft system is far behind...

    I agree with Steve though - swill is swill

  4. The minikegs are basically 5L growlers so they go flat if you don't finish them in a reasonable amount of time. What I like about these is that they do stay carbonated. And, yeah, swill is swill, but I was commenting more on the package itself which could be really useful for something, like say NG IPA, which would be great to just have on hand for a period of time to just be a regular, every-day dinner kind of thing rather than always running out to by 6-packs or cases.

  5. A friend of mine works at a brewpub in Montana (Lone Peak Brewery) that does party pigs for home sales instead of kegs. The party pig, as the other poster mentioned, is basically a re-useable version of these packages.

  6. Beer Talk Today: That's some unique marketing there. I like that idea. I would love to walk into Tyranena and get a Pig refill.


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