When the full weight of COVID-19 hit in March 2020, taprooms across the country were shut down. This sparked a mad dash for breweries to get beer into packaging as fast as possible. The most common format was, of course, cans—12oz, 16oz, hand-labeled, pressure sensitive labels, shrink wrap labels—whatever you could get your hands on.
Looking beyond the current moment, I think one of the lasting changes in the beer industry triggered by the pandemic will be the expectation for breweries to continually package their beer—even for those small breweries who have historically focused on taproom and keg distribution sales only.
We’ve now had well over a year to form new habits. Chiefly, grabbing packaged beer from a brewery or grocery store and drinking it at home. There are plenty of people who will get back out there and hit taprooms just as they did before once we’re past this. But there will be a lot of folks with a newly formed habit of drinking craft beer at home. And to serve them, you’ll need to package your beer.
Once a customer enjoys your beer at home (and has had a chance to build that new habit), this will become the expectation. And it may last well beyond when we no longer have to wear a mask to pick up our beer.