Packaging decisions are important for brewers too. When a brewery is first starting out they likely don’t have the resources and capital to jump into multiple different packaging options and will start with keg products. Kegs come in multiple size options with three main options; the 1/6 barrel which holds about 5.17 gallons, the ¼ barrel or pony keg holding 7.75 gallons and the half barrel or “keg” that holds 15.5 gallons. The keg package keeps unit costs down as it uses the least amount of labor and you can package a lot of beer in each container. Restaurants and bars like it because the retail margin is usually much better for draft beer and most beer drinkers feel draft beer is better in general.
Although it takes more resources and capital to package your beer individually in either cans or bottles, it is necessary for expansion. A very small percentage of the beer drinking market buys their beer for home consumption in a keg. By far we consume the most beer in cans and bottles. So when you are looking to expand your distribution you are going to need to bottle or can your beer.
This brings us to the question, bottles or cans? Until recently bottles were far more preferred over cans as the aluminum cans had a tendency to mess with the character and flavor of the beer. A craft brewer who relies heavily on flavor wouldn’t be caught dead in a can and instead would choose 22 oz or the traditional 12 oz bottles, preferable a dark colored glass to keep light out. But now can technology has come around and many are arguing there is no taste difference between a bottled or canned beer. Plus any good beer drinker knows you should pour your beer in a glass to let it breathe much like a wine. So does it matter what package you choose? The big guys are canning. Check this out http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/viewart/20130705/FOOD/307050013/Craft-beer-cans-make-comeback
I think the masses still prefer the bottle to the can but likely out of habit and not reality. I applaud breweries like 21st Amendment that have embarrassed the can and only package that way. Plus cans have a distinct advantage when you are going rafting, going to the beach, boating, or other activities where glass is frowned upon. Craft beer is now getting into that game so you don’t have to settle for a Coors, Corona, or Heineken when hitting the beach.
There is no substitute for a good draft beer but what do you think, bottles or cans?