Snohomish County’s two oldest breweries are turning to a new packaging tactic to freshen up their image: canning their beer.
Both Mukilteo’s Diamond Knot Brewing and Everett’s Scuttlebutt Brewing are rolling out a new lineup of cans as part of a rebrand strategy that they hope can boost sales and appeal to a new segment of beer drinkers.
In recent years, canned beer has made quite a comeback. No longer just the stronghold of “macro” beers, cans of craft beer have spiked in sales in recent years. According to the Brewers Association, sales of canned craft beer grew by 38 percent in 2017. Visit any grocery store beer cooler packed with six-packs of canned craft beer, and that trend will be obvious.
As part of its recent rebrand, Diamond Knot unveiled five new offerings in canned packaging this week, including three new beers. Known mostly for 22-ounce bomber bottles outside the brewery, Diamond Knot is moving away from its classic flagship beers in favor of the newer lineup that will be year-round.
Three new beers that debuted in 2018, Flagstate IPA, a hop-forward IPA, Tropic Island Stout, a light stout with fruity aromas, and Lower Deck Lager, a hop-forward lager with an intense citrus aroma, are all available in cans. DK’s flagship Blonde and Industrial IPA are the other two beers offered in cans.
“With a focus on R&D, quality control and being able to control our product from conception all the way to finished packaging, the next chapter of Diamond Knot Brewing Company will be sure to delight beer enthusiasts across the Northwest,” said Andy Eason, the firm’s president and CEO, in a press release.
After releasing a pair of seasonals — Mosaic IPA and Pineapple Hefeweizen — in 12-ounce cans last year, Scuttlebutt recently brought to market another seasonal, Ray of Hope, in cans last week. Like the other cans and Diamond Knot’s new can lineup, the artwork on Ray of Hope, a classic Bohemian-style pilsner, is by Seattle’s Blindtiger Design.
Scuttlebutt also altered Transistor IPA, its collaboration with Seattle radio station KEXP. The beer is now packaged in pint cans instead of 12-ounce bottles. Like its partnership with KEXP, the move to cans is an appeal to a new community.
“Whether it’s music, events or beer releases, people see Scuttlebutt as a community brand,” said Ryan Crowther, whose firm, Puget PR, does marketing for Scuttlebutt. “Cans really fit what the market is looking for.”
Transistor IPA’s packaging isn’t the only thing that got an overhaul. Scuttlebutt head brewer Eric Nord lightened up the beer’s grain bill and made it more of a New England-style IPA instead of West Coast IPA, giving the beer more fruity aromas and a pillowy mouthfeel.
In recent years, four packs of pint cans have become the “it” packaging for craft beer, especially IPAs. Everett’s At Large Brewing started packaging a selection of its bevy of IPAs in four packs of pint cans late last year, and Arlington’s Skookum Brewery is planning to unveil its own pint cans sometime in the next couple of months. The focus of the new cans will be Skookum’s strong IPA lineup, including Gene Pool, Double Citra Jack, Southern Glow, Image of Objects and more.
Skookum head brewer Hollis Wood said it’s what the consumer wants right now.
“No one seems to want IPAs in bottles,” Wood said. “It’s a superior way to package beers, specifically IPAs.”
Despite the Roar, Skookum Brewery: A triple IPA made with more than 8 pounds per barrel of Citra, Mosaic and Idaho 7 hops. Available on tap at the brewery.
Everest Triple IPA, Sound to Summit Brewing: The seventh and final beer in Sound to Summit’s Seven Summits Series is made with Citra, Mosaic and Chinook hops and has 100 IBU. Available on tap at the brewery.
Heavy Hoperator, Lake Stevens Brewing: Made with Simcoe, Cascade and Citra hops, this triple IPA has 9 pounds of hops per barrel. Available on tap at the brewery.
Status Symbol Land, At Large Brewing: Fruit- and juice-forward, this New England-style IPA is approachable and smooth . Available on tap and in four-packs of pint cans at the brewery.
Ray of Hope, Scuttlebutt Brewing: A Bohemian-style pilsner made with Mt. Hood and Hallertau hops and Carapils and Canadian Superior Pilsen malts. Available on tap at the brewery and in 12-ounce cans at select grocery stores and bottleshops.
Chai Hard, Lake Stevens Brewing: An export stout brewed with cardamom, allspice, clove, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper. Available on tap at the brewery.
Tropic Island Stout, Diamond Knot Brewing, Mukilteo
Stats: 6.0 percent ABV, 35 IBU
Available: On tap at all Diamond Knot locations and 12-ounce cans at DK locations and specialty beer shops.
From the brewery: Tropic Island Stout is a year-round stout that is not heavy and is surprisingly refreshing for a dark beer with smooth undertones of brown sugar followed by a roasted barley backbone. “On the beach or the slopes, you will love this beer,” said Diamond Knot assistant brewer Grady Warnock.