Why 19.2 Cans Can Be a Value Add to Packaging Portfolio

Craft beer is often an underdeveloped category in C-Store distribution, but 19.2-ounce cans are creating a new avenue for breweries to take share in the grab-and-go category.

Great Lakes Brewing has developed this packaging recently and announced the debut of a new Double IPA, Vibacious, as an entrant into the category and as a year-round product.

“Single-serve grab-and-go offerings are key in the convenience channel, and there’s a great opportunity for a regional brewery like ours to get in there and compete against a growing package category,” said GLBC VP of Sales, Chris Brown. “The 19.2 can communicates value and convenience to the consumer and is a simple entry point for them.

“When craft used to launch brands it was through draft.”

But Brown said the pandemic has changed that dynamic and a 19.2 can is becoming a vessel for initial sampling for the craft consumer.

“There’s a lower barrier to entry at $2.99-$3.49 for trial rather than $13 and up for 6-packs,” Brown said. “For our distributors, it adds economies of scale to their stops at a C-Store, creating more value per stop.”

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Vibacious is the first year-round Double IPA for GLBC and Brown said it fills a gap in the Cleveland brewery’s portfolio of an every day, higher alcohol offering.

“While our seasonally rotating Imperial IPA Series continues to be quite successful for us, Vibacious has a very distinct flavor profile,” they said. “Its low bitterness and soft, pillowy mouthfeel bring in new drinkers who might not think they like IPAs, but its full flavor and aroma appeal to the hardcore DIPA drinkers as well.

“There’s nothing like it in our portfolio, and the buzz has already been strong.”

The other package that is growing for C-Stores is the multi-pack, Brown said, which the brewery has also recently added.

“Two key buying behaviors in trial or acceptance are creating options for C-store stops to be more profitable for the beer distributor,” Brown said. “Vibacious is also launching in our new Hop Madness IPA Variety Pack, so we have some great new opportunities with these packages.”

It is a more complicated process in sourcing “stovepipe” cans, Brown said, as most canning companies only produce 19.2 cans once per quarter, so forecasting needs to be spot-on.

“For the customer we want Vibacious to be very fresh and moving through the glide racks, so a case is only 15 cans,” they said. “As for the price point, that has been dictated by national brands and in order to compete, your brewer needs to have that end cost in mind in creating the recipe.

“Our Chief Operating Officer Steven Pauwels is a master at getting the most out of the ingredients while being mindful of creating a profitable recipe. 19.2s are not going to be your most profitable item, but the sampling and marketing opportunities outweigh the cost.”

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