2020's Newest Challenge: Aluminum Can Shortages
The development of Jai Low IPA, Cigar City Brewing’s newest year-round offering, has not been a proverbial walk in the park. The task of capturing all the bold, tropical qualities of CCB’s flagship Jai Alai IPA in a lower alcohol, lower calorie package presented Brewmaster Wayne Wambles and his Production team a challenging task. After hours of recipe development and many pilot batches, these innovative brewers delivered a beer with all the nuance and balance of Jai Alai IPA in a 4.0% ABV, 120 calorie package. With the recipe finalized, it was time to get the beer into people’s hands. As CCB’s Production Team took to the task of brewing larger volumes of the new beer, its Leadership Team was made aware of a different kind of challenge, one that brewers, distillers, coffee roasters, and other beverage producers across the country were facing: a shortage of aluminum cans.
Indeed, the launch of Jai Low IPA in September 2020 coincided with an industry-wide disruption in the aluminum can supply chain. According to a recent Brewers Association press release, “can manufacturers are reported to be operating at capacity with no quick or easy way to increase production,” as a result of craft beer’s embrace of cans as a preferred package format coupled with the growth of canned seltzers, wine, coffee, and cocktails. The sudden move away from on-premise beer consumption in 2020 has also underscored the strain on can manufacturers.
Thankfully, the shortage has also coincided with major innovations in the production of shrink-sleeved packaging. Affixed to standard aluminum cans, these new sleeves are smoother to the touch and more appealing to the eye than older sleeves, showcasing bold colors and details that weren’t possible with earlier technology. Taking advantage of the strength of their partnership with fellow craft brewers in CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, Cigar City Brewing took existing printed cans from Oskar Blues Brewery and Perrin Brewing Company, and added to them new eye-catching Jai Low IPA shrink-wraps to deliver the beer to the craft beer community. Though printed cans of Jai Low IPA are set to appear on shelves in October 2020, the shrink-wrapped cans carried CCB through the nationwide can crunch and introduced the world to Jai Low IPA as quickly as possible.
“The disruption in can production has affected nearly every craft brewery in the US, and Cigar City Brewing is no exception,” said Justin Clark, CANarchy’s Vice President of Commercial Development. “Thankfully our friends at Oskar Blues Brewery were able to assist in a big way by providing cans to be repurposed into Jai Low IPA packaging. What could have been a roadblock has become another opportunity for the innovative spirit of our team to shine.”
Whether it’s in shrink-wrapped cans or full-time printed cans, Jai Low IPA boasts a vibrant hop profile and depth of flavor far exceeding that of most moderate-alcohol beer offerings. All the qualities found in Cigar City Brewing’s flagship beer, Jai Alai IPA, are present, including citrus aromas and flavors, bread-like maltiness, and a moderate, snappy bitterness, making this beer a deceptively tempered addition to Cigar City Brewing’s line-up of hop-forward creations.
Innovation on the fly has always been a hallmark of the Cigar City Brewing team, and with Jai Low IPA and its shrink-wrapped cans, that innovation has found new expression. Look for Jai Low IPA in its short-run shrink-wrapped cans and full-time printed cans wherever fine craft beer is sold.