What’s Brewing In Craft Beer Packaging


The craft beer market is brewing today, and is quickly cementing itself as a profitable industry. Microbreweries and brewpubs are on the rise in order to satisfy this demand. According to statistics from the Brewers Association, in 2018, independent craft brewers brewed 5% more craft beer in the first half of the year when compared with the previous period in 2017. While sustaining volume growth rate, there are now 6,655 breweries operating in the country, with as many as 3,000 breweries in some degree of planning.

But what exactly defines the American craft brewer? According to the Brewers Association, an American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional.


Independent Seal
This practice is seen as accomplishing three things in today’s market.

  • Small: annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3% of US annual sales). Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
  • Independent: less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member which is not itself a craft brewer.
  • Traditional: a brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavors derive from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored Malt Beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

Packaging Trends
According to Beverage Industry, custom product packaging plays a very important role within the craft industry. Customers are innately drawn to innovative and eye catching packaging. Using innovative packaging to label their products, breweries can convey their individual and unique personalities for their brand which helps them stand out in this competitive industry. Purchases are also driven by consumer loyalty and love of the label and brand. Creative packaging is what sets apart the craft beer that is purchased, and the one that remains on the shelf. Craft breweries tend to compete on quality taste and price, but they really need to consider consumer’s visual tastes through branding, packaging, and marketing.

Feel has become more important in the spirits/beer industry, according to Ink World. 74% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they pick up the product. Raised text or a tactile finish on a craft beer label can promote this. Bold colors to stand out on the shelf, high quality graphics and eye catching inks and finishes are key. Also key is keeping the brand identifiable while still making it stand out not only on the shelves but in the cooler and fridge as well.

Although bottles decorated with cut & stack or pressure sensitive labels remain the majority of craft beer packaging, craft continues to see a trend in a shift toward cans. This shift has been driven partially by shifting package mix from brewers but has also been driven by growth dynamics where smaller brewers that use cans are growing faster.

Some brewers use full-body shrink sleeves over cans to achieve the best possible print quality on the can. With shrink sleeve labels, your product will be noticed from every angle since the label wraps around the entire product. This allows your product to be noticed on the shelf. Cans can also be decorated with pressure sensitive labels. A pressure sensitive label on your product can also make it stand out on the shelf through the use of eye catching enhancements such as glow in the dark, matte, scented, and thermochromatic finishes.

Fort Dearborn Company offers a variety of label formats and print programs to match the requirements for the craft beer market. Whether this means cut & stack labels with specialty varnishes, a pressure sensitive “no label” look, or full body graphics using a shrink sleeve, we have the capabilities to meet your needs for your craft beer label.

Learn more about craft beer packaging!


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