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Ballsy beer sold in labeled pair of cans

Decorating an aluminum can with pressure-sensitive labels is a progressive trend in the flourishing craft beer market. It allows small batch brewers to deliver clear and quality messaging to consumers that is more cost effective and flexible.

Colorado’s first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Company, founded in 1988, has a 20-barrel system for beer production, regularly offering 12 to 14 types of beer on tap. With 15 cases of beer in a barrel, the brewery requires only 7,000 cans when it wants to package and distribute any single batch of its brands.

What started as a 2012 April Fool’s joke launched on YouTube has turned into a wild unprecedented success. Wynkoop is now regularly selling Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout made with real bull testicles, an item deep fried and served at a number of restaurants in the Mountain State. The video was a spoof of Wynkoop’s brewmaster Andrew Brown walking viewers through the production of the ballsy stout.

Within 24 hours of posting the video, Wynkoop had locals at its bar ordering a pint of the stout, and beer enthusiasts from across the country and even Europe making calls to request a sample for tasting and review. Says Marty Jones, the idea man for Wynkoop, ‘the response was nuts.’

With such boisterous demand, eventually supply was made available. The first production was made as a half batch and presented at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival with over 49,000 attendees and 600 US brewers. Wynkoop, with a booth in the far corner of the exhibition, had the longest lines it’s had in the history of attending the event.

Now in the middle of the fourth batch made to sell in cans, Jones says: ‘This is the most expensive and fastest selling beer that we’ve ever produced. And I can’t say enough about what a great solution labeling the cans is for us. Before we didn’t have an option for a ‘“seasonal” brew.’

This labeling method enables Wynkoop to produce super-small batches of canned beer avoiding the 95,000 can minimum required for painted cans. Painted cans cost about a dime and the price remains the same without printing. Using a mobile bottling service to shrink wrap the cans added about forty cents to each can. The two pressure sensitive labels supplied locally by Quad Seven are about a dime apiece.

Wynkoop canned around one hundred cases of the unique beer in its first production. Each can has a front and back four-color flexographic-pressure sensitive label on a clear poly stock, mimicking the decoration technique traditionally used for glass beer bottles. The design of the label was intended to allow the can to pop through and gives the look as if the can is actually painted.

Wynkoop’s TTB rep told the brewer they had never seen a two-part can label. Jones says: ‘These labels have enabled us to launch a new labeling concept for micro-canned beers.’

The cans are labeled using a Primera AP360 tabletop application unit and a Cask Brewing Systems tabletop system is used for hand canning.

Watch the Wynkoop Brewing Company YouTube video below



Danielle Jerschefske is Labels & Labeling's sustainability consultant.

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