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Edmonton craft brewery Alley Kat switches from bottles to cans

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Alley Kat Brewing Company announced Tuesday it will be switching to aluminium cans after packaging almost exclusively in bottles since 1995.

The switch will happen this spring and was based on market demand, the brewery said.

“We’ve been watching the market closely for years and the trend from bottles to cans shows no sign of slowing down,” Neil Herbst said.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Alley Kat Brewing sold, but ownership to remain local

He recently sold the brewery but remains involved in day-to-day operations. Herbst said Alley Kat has been looking into cans since 2018.

“Based on these market conditions, we decided in early 2019 that we had to make this switch in order to provide craft beer drinkers with their preferred beer drinking experience.”

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The company cited data from Statistics Canada that indicates the percentage of packaged domestic bottled beer sold in Alberta has dropped over the last several years. In 2012, data shows 24.5 per cent of beer sold was in bottles and 75.5 per cent was in cans. In 2018, just 15 per cent was in bottles. That number dropped further, to 12.6 per cent, in 2019.

Alley Kat’s new cans – Full Moon Pale Ale.
Alley Kat’s new cans – Full Moon Pale Ale. Courtesy: Alley Kat

“Cans are perfect for all kinds of summer activities, whether it’s golfing, camping, or outdoor festivals,” new owner Cameron French said.

“Plus, the can design allows us to provide the consumer with tons of information about the beer they’re drinking, along with a few other fun surprises.”

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Alley Kat’s staple offerings are Aprikat Apricot Ale, Main Squeeze Grapefruit Ale, Scona Gold Kölsch, Buena Vista Brown Ale, Full Moon Pale Ale and Fish Bone New England IPA.

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In addition to the regular lineup, the 2019 Brewery of the Year (Alberta Beer Awards) offers seasonal brews and limited edition beers, like the Full Squeeze, which was released in support and celebrate of 2018 Edmonton Pride Festival. This year’s seasonal brew, RazzyKat Raspberry Sour, will be released April 2.

The first cans to hit shelves mid-March will be the latest Double IPA from Alley Kat’s Dragon series (African Queen Dragon, hopped with African Queen hops imported from South Africa’s Western Cape province). The rest of the lineup will roll out in cans throughout March and April.

The Back Alley Brew series and Dragon IIPA series will be sold as four-packs of 473 ml cans.

READ MORE: ‘Still room’ left in Alberta’s booming brewing and distilling industry — brewery founder

The new cans were designed by Edmonton firm Vision Creative.

Each can features a different Alberta landscape.

Alley Kat Brewing’s new cans of Scona Gold Kolsch.
Alley Kat Brewing’s new cans of Scona Gold Kolsch. Courtesy: Alley Kat

“As a brewery, we remain focused on environmentally friendly business practices and that was at the heart of every decision made throughout this process,” Alley Kat’s other new owner, Zane Christensen, said.

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“For example, we’ve chosen can liners that are BPA-free and we’re using WaveGrip carriers that are fully recyclable, photodegradable, and use 75 per cent less plastic than conventional craft carriers. We also want to remind people that cans are recyclable. In fact, aluminum is the most recyclable of all materials and can be recycled indefinitely.”

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The brewery had a bottling line and replaced it with a canning line. So, while that’s a large upfront cost, the cost to produce a six-pack of cans is very similar bottles, Michael Fulton told Global News.

READ MORE: Alberta’s craft beer market growing despite trade challenges

He also said Alley Kat has a few exciting things on the horizon.

First, a release party in April for the new cans. Then, Alley Kat is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The brewery is planning a big celebration in June.

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Alley Kat’s new cans, Buena Vista Brown Ale.
Alley Kat’s new cans, Buena Vista Brown Ale. Courtesy: Alley Kat

And last, but definitely not least, the company is working with every single Edmonton brewery on a collaborative project to celebrate the local brewing history. For the first collaborative beer (a Norwegian-style kwak), five or six Edmonton breweries worked together on a recipe and will get together at Alley Kat in May to brew it.

Fulton said while each brewery wants to sell beer, the community is incredibly supportive.

“It shows how tight-knit it is,” he said of the project. “Everyone in the industry, we’re all friends.”

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