The "glass" for beer sales is half empty: according to National Beer Sales & Production Data, overall U.S. beer volume sales were down 1% in 2017. Yet the glass is half full for craft beer, where sales continued to grow at a rate of 5% by volume and reaching 12.7% of the U.S. beer market, growing the most for microbreweries.
It’s into the rising craft market that a new 64-oz polyethylene terephthalate (PET) growler jug is rolling out. The jug mimics the competitive glass design and provides high-barrier protection for extended shelf life. W. Amsler Equipment Inc. (Bolton, Ontario), a supplier of all-electric linear PET stretch blow molders, made the announcement during the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America in Denver held this week.
Sized as a standard growler, the amber PET container is manufactured by W. Amsler at the company’s Bolton facility on behalf of packaging supplier JMS International Packaging (Sherbrooke, Quebec) on a W. Amsler all-electric linear series stretch blow molder. The PET barrier container weighs 106 grams versus 1.2 kg for the glass version, thus resulting in reduced shipping costs.
PlasticsToday learned that there is already one customer for the jug, in Ontario, Canada. A spokesman says the new growler is creating a buzz at this week’s show.
Craft breweries and home brewers
It is also event-friendly, unbreakable, and 100% recyclable, according to Heidi Amsler, sales and marketing manager for W. Amsler. A growler is a jug, typically 64-oz in volume, commonly sold at breweries and brew pubs as a means to sell take-out craft beer. The significant growth of craft breweries and the growing popularity of home brewing have also led to an emerging market for the sale of growlers.
“We’re proud to be part of this highly collaborative effort that has resulted in a breakthrough in PET barrier containers for the craft beer market,” said Amsler. “We’ve set a new benchmark in terms of shelf life and provided craft brewers a highly viable alternative to the standard glass container.”
Unbreakable and portable PET growlers provide an entry into venues that do not allow glass because of the potential for breakage and other security requirements.
The 64-oz, 106-gram container was designed by W. Amsler with standard preforms supplied by Preform Solutions Inc. (Sioux Falls, SD). The PET growlers have a flat champagne base rather than a carbonated-base design and withstand 15 psi of pressure.
For the Craft Brewers Conference, W. Amsler selected a barrier with a monolayer structure which includes a Sherwin-Williams’ barrier additive, which PlasticsToday confirmed is valOR barrier resin.
The website states that “valOR barrier resins used in PET food and beverage containers provide superior gas barrier and oxygen scavenging performance, improved processability, delamination resistance and compatibility with PET.” It’s appropriate for monolayer and multilayer bottles, films and trays for juice, beer, condiments, meat/cheese and other foods.
The monolayer barrier prevents oxygen ingress/egress and loss of carbon dioxide in providing a 120-day shelf life versus 48 hours for standard PET growlers. The bottle is compatible with existing recycling streams. The HDPE handle, designed by JMS International Packaging, is produced separately and affixed to the container via a secondary process. The amber color for the 64oz barrier bottle is supplied by Penn Color (Doylestown, PA). The bottle has a 38-mm finish.
In the future, the JMS production bottles will be manufactured with a new patented PET plastic (PETB1) that has been developed by JMS International Packaging Inc. The new patented PETB1 plastic offers the best barrier to CO2 plus oxygen egress and ingress on the market. This unique material also protects the product from UV rays and is available in transparent or opaque versions. The product resists impact and enabled JMS to obtain a recycle code #1 PET. It also has strong resistance to hot filling.
The PET plastic growlers are also available in a clear color with or without barrier protection for ciders, craft sodas, craft cocktails, and liquor. Decoration options include pressure-sensitive labels or screen-printing.
W. Amsler has focused new resources and expanded its participation in the beer packaging market. The company sees strong opportunities in glass conversion applications where barrier PET bottles have a strong fit due to their light weight and portability. The company introduced 12oz barrier PET bottles in a long-neck style with a crown cap at NPE 2018. Later, a second 12oz format with a slightly different design and label panel was launched.