Many of these packs’ features and effects were on display at the November BrauBeviale show in Germany.
Of course, labelling and closures played their part, as in the case of BrewDog’s 375ml bottles for its Abstrakt range of limited-edition beers, which include a dipped wax seal.
But manufacturer Beatson Clark’s Champagne-style bottle with branded embossing struck a distinctive note.
“We have minimum runs of 300,000 bottles in the first part of our process, but the finishing stage – including embossing – can handle half this number,” said Charlotte Taylor, marketing manager at Beatson Clark.
“This gives craft brewers the opportunity to buy bottles that look completely bespoke.”
The company can also offer direct screen printing for a different type of image. “Younger brands which want to be a bit funky tend to go for this,” she said.
For situations where minimum run lengths were still a barrier, Beatson Clark is producing a stock bottle with ‘craft beer’ embossed on it. Already available in 330ml, the company said it was looking at a 500ml version, too.
Sharon Todd, head of marketing for Ardagh’s glass business in Europe, showed examples of the embossing achieved with the company’s new Freeform haptic sculpting device. This is technology that has transferred from the world of chocolate mould design.
“It provides far more definition than standard techniques, and avoids potential problems with imperfections as the glass is removed from the mould,” she said.
“It’s also been used by Duerr’s for the orange-peel effect on its fruit-shaped jar. We would not have been able to achieve quite the same effect without this technology.”
Powder coating is another finish that has transferred from a different sector, in this case decoration systems for household appliances.
“This has never been used on packaging before,” Todd claimed. “The electrostatically-charged powder coats the earthed container.”
Not be achievable
Many effects, including hammered metal and a ‘snowflake’ appearance, would not be achievable with a traditional liquid medium, and the process does not generate volatile organic compound emissions.
According to Todd, the coatings – which are available in Ardagh’s Barnsley plant – have not yet been applied to a commercialised pack.
Quite how you define ‘craft beer’ and ‘craft spirits’ is one of the challenges affecting this segment.
While some consumers will be quite selective about artisanal, small-scale production, the focus for many is simply on challenger brands with often quirky positionings – many of them, in fact, belonging to larger, established brand-owners.
Here, too, differentiation is the key. At BrauBeviale, O-I showed black glass produced at its Harlow plant for Hendricks Gin, which is owned by William Grant & Sons.
Account manager for Benelux Christophe Desort said: “The premium black, which we introduced at the last Brau, when used with beer will protect the product from the effects of ultraviolet light.”