In August, Pittsburgh
Brewing Co. embarked on a historical mission to introduce Iron City beer in
aluminum packaging. Working with Alcoa, provider of the aluminum, and CCL
Container, Hermitage, Pa., producer of the bottles, Pittsburgh Brewing
launched 12-ounce aluminum bottles in its 28-state distribution network.
The relationship between the brewer and CCL Container
began with sample testing for stability and line durability, according to
Ed Martin, vice president of sales and marketing at CCL Container, Norwalk,
“Pittsburgh Brewing decided from Day One they
were going to use this unique package to create value, and that they were
going to charge a slight premium for the product. As a regional brewer it
helped them go into other areas of the country with a higher-value
product,” Martin says.
In addition to the obvious silver exterior to draw
consumer attention on the retail shelf, the thermodynamic properties of the
bottle keep the beer colder longer. Iron City’s aluminum packaging
provides a rigid exterior, which is stronger than a standard beverage can
and similar to glass. Marketers also have discovered the aluminum bottles
offer a canvas for endless decorating possibilities, according to
Introducing the new bottles into PBC’s
operations involved fitting the filling line with special change parts for the diameter of the bottle as well as adding an x-ray
fill checker that can see through aluminum. Although
the new bottles resulted in added costs to the brewery, the packaging has
created benefits for not only the company but also for brewery workers,
according to Martin.
“The benefits include a greatly reduced scrap
rate since the bottles will not break as they are handled throughout the
process. A special smaller case pack also was created without cardboard
partitions because the bottles will not break during transport,” or
on the bottling line, which employees appreciate, Martin adds.
Package draws attention
So far, the launch of the
aluminum bottle line has been a success beyond the Pittsburgh Brewing
Co.’s expectations, according to Joe Piccirilli, Pittsburgh
Brewing’s vice chairman.
Before introducing the packaging, PBC’s target
market was male consumers from 35 to 55 years old. The new packaging is
credited with attracting a new, younger category of consumers without an
expensive marketing campaign.
“For us to be in that category [of younger
consumers] against our competitors would take hundreds of millions of
dollars in marketing,” Piccirilli says. “The media attention
[was the biggest surprise of the launch], not only in the United States but
The packaging innovation news appeared in the media in
countries such as Brazil, Bangkok, Germany and Canada. Close to 19
million American viewers saw the bottle on major network television as
well, according to Piccirilli. Additionally, as many as 900 major news publications across the country covered the new
Iron City aluminum bottle basics
Impact extruded aluminum. Crown finish, short neck and
pry-off crown. All materials are recyclable.