Californian craft brewer experiments with test run in cans

Californian craft brewer Russian River has produced a test run of beer in cans, issuing a limited run of its popular hazy IPA over the Thanksgiving period as it mulls a move away from bottles.

The company announced the news on Instagram and later told local media that the initial run comprised 2,100 four-packs of Mind Circus beer. The brewer, which is based in Windsor, about 110km north of San Francisco, charged US$22 for a four-pack, according to the reports.

Co-owner Natalie Cilurzo was quoted as telling the Press Democrat that Russian River sought a mobile canning operator that could guarantee low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the pilot. DO trapped in beer can accelerate the spoiling process.

“We designed this brewery around bottling,” Cilurzo reportedly said. “Cans have been creeping up in the market share … We were kind of really hesitant.”

California is the hub of US craft brewers, generating $9 billion of economic benefit to the state last year in the form of sales, wages to workers and other associated synergies, according to the Brewers Association, the industry body for niche and independent producers. More than a third of all American craft beer sales are now in cans, up from around 11 per cent in 2015, according to researcher Nielsen, which valued the sector at $820 million, double the figure from four years ago.

Russian River will continue canning if the experiment is successful.

“We are dipping our toes,” Cilurzo was quoted as saying in the Press Democrat. “I wouldn’t take anything off the table.”