Well-crafted move to cans catching on

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 21/08/2014

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Craft beer in a can is a growing international trend that is already finding traction in the Kiwi market.

Beervana festival director David Cryer thought only 2-3 per cent of Kiwi craft beer was in cans - Wellington's Garage Project is a prime example - but he knew of another five or six companies ready to follow suit.

He said the secret to drinking canned beer was to pour it into a glass. Sipping straight from the can may give it a tinny taste. "But craft-beer drinkers don't drink straight from the bottle anyway."

And unlike glass bottles, beer in cans could be served on airlines as was happening with Moa beers in aluminium bottles and Air New Zealand, Cryer said.

John Holl, editor of the United States-based All About Beer magazine, said canning had been accepted by US craft brewers and drinkers.

"The brewers see benefits. It is lighter shipping weight, it keeps out light and oxygen, which can negatively affect the overall taste of the beer."

The comments came at yesterday's launch of ANZ's New Zealand Craft Beer report, which gave an overview of the industry.

It shows that just 2 per cent of beer consumed in New Zealand is craft beer, unless you include those labelled as craft beer by one of the country's three big brewers, which grows the market to 10 per cent.

New Zealanders are the 27th biggest beer drinkers in the world, downing 64.7 litres per capita a year. The 2 per cent craft beer component is just under 1.3 litres.

If the craft brews from our major breweries are included then the share of the market lifts it to just over 6.4 litres per capita.

However, craft beer is the biggest-growing segment of the local brewing industry at about 25 per cent a year.

The number of beer firms has grown from 39 in 2008 to 110. The growth was achieved as the overall volume of beer consumed fell 10 per cent to 289 million litres in the same period.

Auckland, Nelson/Marlborough and Canterbury were listed as having the most craft brewers at 16 each. Wellington was sitting just behind on 13.

Rob Simcic, ANZ general manager for commercial & agri in the Marlborough region, said the country was well positioned to be a superpower of small brewers by following the lead of the trailblazing wine sector.

"Today New Zealand wine generates around $1.3 billion in exports. I am not suggesting the craft beer sector can expect such phenomenal growth rates but we think it can triple over the next decade."

DRINK UP

Beer consumption by country (in litres per capita)

1. Czech Republic 148.6

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2. Austria 107.8

3. Germany 106.1

11. Australia 83.1

14. United States 77.1

27. New Zealand 64.7

- The Dominion Post

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