Canning Your Brands: Shrink Wraps & Sticker Labels

On July 13, Brewer Magazine spoke with breweries that have explored canning by ordering printed cans. Other options are available, including shrink-wrapped cans along with buying blank cans and adding labels or stickers to the cans after filling.

Penn Brewery utilizes shrink-wrapped labels for their cans.

“Our choice was based on cost efficiencies and the aesthetics,” they said in an email to Brewer. “We did not like the way sitickers looked on other brands, so we avoided that option from the get go.

“Although we initially wondered whether the aesthetic quality of shrink sleeves would be up to snuff, we were very pleased with the result on our first canning, so we have continued with shrink labels for successive canning runs.”

The brewery only produces a small number of Penn beer varieties in cans and will likely continue that plan for the foreseeable future while sticking with the shrink labels.

Monday Night Brewing tried some small runs of wrapped cans said COO and co-founder Joel Iverson. However, they found that they wrapped cans tended to get stuck more easily in their machinery.

Iverson also found that it was tough to get the look and full effect they wanted from a wrapped or labeled can.

“We were able to find a good workaround,” he explained. “We started experimenting with translucent labels on printed cans. After a few versions, we ended up with a labeled can that looks more like a printed one.”

Hopworks Urban prints the vast majority of their cans through Ball because that is the best pricing and the cans look ‘super slick,’ added the brewery’s Eric Steen.

But they needed options for lower minimums and faster-paced projects though so after some research HUB decided to do printed labels on cans.

“The pricing was better on the labels and we have a labeler on our bottling line so it made the most sense,” Steen said. “It’s not exactly a “change” as much as it is another option. Primarily this new labeled can option is helpful for getting a canned beer out to the market faster and with greater flexibility than printed cans.”

Steen pointed out that it takes about two weeks max to print labels whereas a new production run of cans is a three to four months wait time.

“I would also say that we can be less dogmatic about brand guidelines and experiment a little,” Steen said. “The biggest cons are the extra labor involved in labeling the cans and the fact that the labels are literally just an extra cost on top of the cans.”

Steen thinks labeled cans are here to stay for HUB.

“It’s important to pay attention to how much these labels add to your cost per barrel because they add up very quickly,” he said. “It’s unfortunate passing that cost on to the drinker, so we try to avoid that, but for the experimental beers, it’s worth it to test beers and give people a fun package to take home.”

Nantahala Brewing and Empire Brewing also weighed in on this discussion and we will share their input in the coming weeks.

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