Should You Say Goodbye to Bombers?

Although a craft beer stable for decades, the 22-ounce “bomber” packaging is losing steam. For Shmaltz Brewing, which started its operation in Northern California more than two decades ago, it was the lifeblood of sales. But as the now New York-based brewery closes in on birthday number 22, it’s bye-bye bombers.

The brewery, which has switched to a contract brewing model, has completely changed its 2019 lineup from bottles to cans said founder Jeremy Cowan.

“It was a wild sale of the bottling line in particular, which happened out of the blue,” he said. “We had to scramble to just finish the year with our current packaging while slipping all our products into the new cans a lot sooner than we originally planned.”

Cowan said that over the last several years — and depending on geography — bombers are harder to sell as so many young consumers and plenty of older ones are wanting 16 oz. cans for packaged beers.

“I still travel so much for work and see a lot of the regions,” he said. “There are plenty of pockets around the country that do OK with 22 oz. bottles. A good example is California. But, certainly in our home market in Upstate New York and many other cities, the 16 oz. can has become a phenomenon.”

Cowan spent a lot of time talking to retailers both on and off premise, and then worked his way back up the distribution channel to wholesalers.

“It definitely scares me a little bit how fast the switch to cans has happened,” he admitted. “I’m concerned there will be too many options with the same group of buyers. For now, though, who doesn’t love an amazing craft beer in a pint can that’s so easy to transport and enjoy in so many different settings.”

Cowan said he is really excited to have new designs, flavors and a bunch of opportunities with the new lineup.

“I’m thrilled we were able to fit Jewbelation 22 (their anniversary brand) into a 16 oz. can for Chanukah 2018 with such amazingly fun packaging and a fantastic new recipe,” he said.

He added that the most exciting part of packaging has always been the skill, creativity and enthusiasm of their Art Director Matt Polacheck who has been working with Cowan since 2003 on every single aspect of packaging and marketing.

“I love our collaborative effort, which allows me to take advantage of his skills and put in my perspectives, my suggestions and my vision,” Cowan said. “Whether it’s bottles, cans, website, social media, sales collateral, banners, etc. — I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished with our brand.

“I think people have come to expect high quality shtick with equally high quality graphics and packaging, and quality beer so we always aim as high as possible across the whole spectrum. For all these years, the trinity of Shmaltz has always been the same — quality, community, and shtick.”

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