Expert Topic Adding Pizazz to Can Ends

Photo by John Holl

It would be difficult to gauge how much thought end users think about can tops. Even with the proliferation over the last decade of cans in the craft beer space, not many drinkers give thought to how a can opens, so long as it opens properly.For brewers, there are options for these can ends that are not only functional but can add a certain aesthetic to a beer.

From openings that can be widened for a smoother pour or easier drinkability, to smaller ones that control flow into a glass, fluidity is not always top of mind, but for the right beverage and setting it adds to the overall experience.

Keg Logistics logo
Packaging featured expert topic supported by Keg Logistics

With the most flexible payment terms even the smallest operation can get the highest quality German-made kegs with our rent-to-own and short term keg leasing programs. And every rent-to-own keg features your branding front and center.

Most brewers settle into traditional canning routines, figuring that if it works well, no need to upset the apple cart. That’s a solid approach to be sure but flipping through a manufacturer catalogue and seeing what new options might be available, or what existing ones might add to your packaged beer experience. All that, provided it can work with your existing canning machine or mobile canning capabilities.

While most breweries will use silver ends for their beers, there are a growing handful of other breweries that use other colors to help standout on shelved.

“We used all-black ends from 2017-2022 for all Deep Wood beers, but moved to gold on the revamped cans,” says John Carruthers of Chicago’s Revolution Brewing. “The only ones we use black ones with now are (most of) our 16-ounce specialty releases.”

He says part of the reason for this is to signal that a certain beer is “a limited, (possibly) one-off opportunity, to try something new, different, or special.”

Taking visual or design steps outside what the brewery does with the vast majority of its production – which it also does with art in many cases “sends that message to someone in their bottle shop or one of our locations who is always looking to try the latest.”

For Oregon brewer Kevin Davies distinguishing his can ends are more for the every-day beers. He started using gold ends on cans when he worked at Wayfinder Beer, beginning with the launch of Retro Gold, “an IPA that was a bit of a throwback to California IPA from the late aughts, styled like Firestone meets Stone meets Russian River. Lots of Simcoe, bit of dextrose, c-hops and bitterness.”

The label the brewery came up with had a striking white background with gold lettering and “it just looked like it needed a gold end,” he says.

“Anyway, the local mobile canning companies stock gold ends and can easily supply them. So when Lisa [Allen] and I were launching Gold Dot it seemed like a no-brainer,” he says. “It’s kinda funny because in my early 20’s, gold as a color seemed so passe. It’s coming back.”

While not fully embracing a different end color, other brewers have opted to use alternative colors with the tab, or to work a die cut symbol or design into the tab’s hole. That helps a brand stand out in a subtle way.

Thanks to anti-litter laws on the books in multiple states, once common pull tab tops, or ones where an end can be fully removed to create a cup-like container, are less popular but still available.

The same is sometimes true with aluminum bottles with screw top containers, although when used at stadiums, the tops are often removed by staff which is responsible for recycling. However, in the craft beer space, the aluminum bottles are a fun option for one-off beers, like high-abv or barrel aged offerings, or the occasional one-off or limited run when a crowler won’t cut it.

There’s also XO can lids and other two-step closures for beverages where a little bit of extra childproofing is called for – like CBD or THC infused drinks. Those also add a bit of aesthetic to the safety element, separating it from other cans on the marketplace.

Thinking about can end options, and finding a way to brand it as your own, or be quicker identified among a sea of silver, can bring attention, and possibly more dollars to your brewery.

To top