It may surprise a fair few people, but Weird Beard were one of the first UK craft breweries to put beer into cans. All the way back in early 2015, we put our Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja and Decadence Stout into force carbonated 330ml cans. Back then it was very early days for the can thing, and only a few mobile canning companies were about. Maybe when we filled our first cans it was a bit too early, especially for the mobile canners, who were still learning their trade.
To cut a long and painful story short, for various reasons, it did not go well. Pretty much all the cans were under carbonated, which was OK for the Stout but not ideal for a Pilsner. Then, after just a few weeks, the cans were starting to taste oxidised. But even worse than that, we started having the odd can- say 1 or 2 out of a 6 pack- exploding. This hurt us and our reputation a lot. And if you were one of the unlucky ones affected by this, we apologised then, and we apologise now.
In those days, the market was also totally different. Cans were seen as a ‘Big Beer’ thing, and hard to sell over a bar without a bit of convincing from knowledgeable staff.
So why has it taken us a full 4 years to try again? Well, as mentioned earlier, we were scared by the whole experienced last time and we know lot of our customers were too. So, we wanted to allow plenty of time for those memories to fade into the past where they belong. Another factor is that we are not set up for force carbonating, which is why our beers are still bottle conditioned. We have the wrong tanks, pumps etc, which would require a huge investment to change. And I (Bryan) really did not like can conditioned beers. To me a can is something you grab from the fridge, chuck in your bag and drink on the go. I believe that beer conditioned in its container, is best poured carefully to stop any sediment being consumed. To me this sediment dulls the flavour of the beer, and the drinker does not get the best drinking experience.
But that was then and things have changed, especially here. We have learnt our trade a little better, improved ingredients, processes and equipment. This all means we can produce a 'bottle conditioned' product with the smallest amount of sediment. Which in turn makes it perfect drinking on the go, and therefore perfect to slip into a can. As most will be aware, the market is almost unrecognisable since way back in 2015.
For our second flirtation with cans, we’ve chosen to focus first on our Flagship Beer, Mariana Trench. We wanted to update our branding in line with the packaging change; no one likes a disproportionate bottle label slapped on a can. We’ve also wanted for many years to showcase our brilliant designer Chris’ Lupins- the little Bryan shaped skulls which he designs uniquely for each of our beers. This felt like the perfect opportunity to do that.
Learning from last time, we sent the beer off to be contract canned elsewhere. This allowed us access to state of the art canning equipment, lowering our quality control fears.
We’ll be launching the new cans at our Late Summer Open Day this Saturday, with a second bar selling just these outside the brewery. We hope you enjoy them and that they are the start of a new era of the Weird Beard story.
Team Weird Beard