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Multipacks (12-packs & Variety Packs)—when more is more


We helped a lot of breweries launch multipacks (12-packs and variety packs) in 2020. Variety Packs have been a perennial best seller in craft beer, though mostly for larger breweries (call it, somewhere around 8k+ bbls per year). But we saw a sharp uptick in smaller breweries getting into this format last year as well.

The pandemic and “mission-driven shopping” trend drove a lot of demand for variety packs, along with traditional 12-packs. (Market research company IRI tracked 12-packs of 12oz craft cans growing at more than 52% YOY in 2020. And Drizly reported that 12-packs accounted for 42% of all beer sales throughout 2020.)

Doug Veliky over at Revolution Brewing (and the fantastic Beer Crunchers blog) put together a great breakdown of why the 12-pack format is working so well right now. You should go read it directly from him.

If you can get the cost of goods sold (COGS) and production figured out, this is definitely worth exploring. Here are a few tactical things to think about if your brewery is considering this offering.

1. A carton packaging machine is a major capital investment. You can get around this by using folding 12-pack boxes that don’t require glue. In our experience though, these rarely look as nice as glued up boxes (the graphics never seem to align properly). But this is all about tradeoffs and doing everything you can to get your beer out to your fans quickly (during COVID-19, anyway). 

2. Breweries usually include a rotational or seasonal beer in each variety pack to keep people interested. This presents a problem with how to communicate what that new offering is at scale. Printing a new run of cases every time you add a new beer is usually out of the question for smaller brewers because you want to print as many of one design as you can to get the per-unit cost down. 

So what can you do?

Stickers? Check boxes? A window in the packaging to let the seasonal beer peek through? Or, should you simply call it a “surprise seasonal” so you don’t have to mess with this issue at all? Yep, these all work. I can’t tell you which works best because your project context, brand and budget should drive that decision. But if you want to include a seasonal in your variety pack, you will need to figure this out. So think about it now.

Bonus thought 

We’ve seen a lot of breweries put their beer cans across the front of a box, label it a “variety pack” or a “party pack” and call it a day.

Putting cans on the box is fine (it’s actually become a category convention, stemming from when breweries first started putting 6-pack cans in boxes. How else will people know what’s in these boxes!?). But this naming convention is lazy a missed opportunity.

A variety pack should be viewed as its own unique brand with its own unique value proposition. And it should be positioned and named as such.

Actionable Takeaways

1. Think through whether or not you have a beer(s) that could benefit from being sold as a 12-pack. This is as much a COGs decision as it is a brand decision.

2. Is there a beer that lends itself to a particular drinking occasion—a day at the lake? A family picnic. Camping with friends? Commiserating with your friends after you’ve been ejected from your kid’s soccer game (again)? Use these ideas to brand and position your multipack so it has its own fun value prop (beyond simply being more beer from your brewery).

3. Be weary of 15-packs.

What’s On Deck?

2021 Craft Beer Branding Trends Published Next Month!

Our 2021 Beer Branding Trends report drops on May 10th, and it’s… detailed. Clocking in at just under 20k words, we’ll be diving into 4 key areas:

– COVID-19 Effects
– Major Industry Trends 
– Craft Beer Branding (& Package Design) Trends 
– Expert Opinions 

We’ll email you when this debuts and would like to treat June’s Beer Branding Trends newsletter as a followup AMA where we field any questions you have on this piece. 

More on this next month, friends. 

Latest Resources

CODO x BrewBound Podcast

We had an insightful conversation on the BrewBound podcast about how a brewery can rebrand without confusing (or enraging) its fans. This was hot on the heels of the Anchor Brewing rebrand.

Check this out if your brewery is considering a refresh anytime soon. Or if you want to hear my not-at-all-annoying voice. 

How Rhinegeist Brewery Built a World Class Brand with an In-House Agency

Here’s the first conversation in our new series, “In-House,” where we’re exploring what it takes to build a world-class brand from inside a brewery. Today, we’re speaking with Greg Althoff, Creative Director at Rhinegeist Brewery.⁠

Beer Branding: A journey through the American craft beer (& design) boom


This should be fun (we don’t speak to design groups too often these days). Looking forward to the conversation. We’ll tell some war stories, walk you through our branding process and explain how *you too* can become an 11 year over-night success.

7pm Eastern on April 22 via Zoom. Let’s get weird.


Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


Ready to learn more?


Craft Beer, Rebranded

Craft Beer, Rebranded and its companion Workbook are a step-by-step guide to map out a winning strategy ahead of your rebrand. Building on CODO’s decade of brewery branding experience, this book will help you weigh your brand equity, develop your brand strategy and breathe new life into your brewery’s brand.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started. 

isaac@2x.png +1 (317) 403-3173
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