Wednesday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending an interesting marketing event for the San Francisco-based 21st Amendment Brewery who has announced their intention of growing their distribution. They are one of the leading pack of brewers embracing a shift that’s ever-so-slowly creeping into the craft-beer-buying consciousness. CANS!
Cans people! Cans. In my opinion, cans are the absolute doo doo as far as craft beer packaging is concerned. Zero light, minimal head space, ease of transportation … not to mention the business benefits of cheaper distribution costs. There is a long-standing war between proponents of bottles and cans that dates back to the mid-30s when the beer industry first started playing with canning their product. The biggest legitimate issue the anti-can crowd had was that the beer resting against the metal interior would facilitated a chemical reaction that introduced off flavors, ruining the taste of the beer. This has been a non-issue for decades since the introduction of a non-reactive, water-based polymer liner that protects the beer from reacting with the metal.
Ultimately, I’m not saying that I’m a fan of one vessel over the other. I’m just saying that excellent beer DOES come in cans.
Which brings me to 21st Amendment and their recently-held weBEERnar (I know, right?). They shipped each participant a package with the two beers they are focused on distributing: The Hell or High Watermelon Wheat and The Brew Free Or Die IPA. Also included were instructions asking to hold off on drinking the beer for the event. In addition we were given the URL to the WebEx session.
The event was essentially a description of the beers and distribution goals followed by an informal Q&A. Shaun O’Sullivan and Niko Freccia were the two representatives from 21A. They covered topics like the rise of canning in craft beer, a few high-level logistics of contract brewing through Cold Spring Brewery in Minnesota, and future plans for expansion. They began distributing their beer in San Francisco in July, and are actively focused on expanding throughout the Bay Area and Alaska with the ultimate goal of making their beer available across the nation.
As for the beer? Well it’s pretty damned good. I’ll let the BeerAdvocate and RateBeer cover the beer-drinking public perception, but I can see how the Watermelon Wheat would be a monster thirst quencher in the summer, and the IPA is a good example of a solid West Coast version of the style
So raise a glass (poured from a can) to 21st Amendment, and wish them success.
Brew Free! of Die IPA
BeerAdvocate [A-] http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/735/20781
RateBeer  http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/Beer-Ratings.asp?BeerID=8189
Hell or High Watermellon Wheat
BeerAdvocate [B-] http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/735/4202
RateBeer  http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/21st-amendment-hell-or-high-watermelon-wheat/8187/