PET beverage packaging is a familiar sight. Its lightweight and recyclable properties have made it a staple of the fast-moving consumer goods industry for more than twenty years. Beer, though, is a market that has never fully felt the PET influence, with most breweries clinging conservatively to the traditional glass packaging, with the occasional brew finding its way onto shelves packaged in aluminium cans.
With the launch this month of Brass Pilsener and Brass Lager, PET makes an inroad into the beer market, with the two Belgian imports finding shelf space in major liquor retailer Dan Murphy’s. While beer in PET bottles may come across as a novelty, it’s actually not a new concept. Philippines-based beer company San Miguel launched one-litre PET bottles of their lager in 2005, while at home, Carlton & United made an attempt to introduce PET packaging in the mid-90s, and US giant Miller Brewing followed suit soon after. A cursory glance at any beer cabinet today will tell you these experiments didn’t last, at least in Australia.
Brass Pilsener and Lager come to us in cute 330mL bottles, similar in design to most soft-drink bottles but reduced in size and brown in colour, resembling a regular glass beer bottle quite perfectly to the naked eye. This past weekend I went as if to pass a bottle to a friend in the kitchen and deliberately dropped it on the tiled floor. His knee-jerk flinch for safety from the shards was enough to confirm the resemblance for me.
Brass markets its PET packaged beers as a safer alternative to glass. They emphasise the increase in ‘glassing’ incidents in pubs, and trumpet PET packaging as the solution. I don’t fully buy the link between a packaging change and reduced pub violence, although it does take one factor out of the equation. Further, given that an increasing number of venues – such as those for open-air concerts, sports or cinema – are banning the presence of glass, PET bottling seems a simple solution if you want to bring your own beer along.
There are in-built impediments to the use of PET in beer. The major hurdle is that PET is more permeable to gases, leading to an increased risk of carbonation loss, and oxidation, the natural enemy of fermented products. This is fine, unless your intention is to store it away for weeks and months and see how it ages, which I daresay is not most beer drinkers’ end goal in purchasing. There is, though, also the barrier of consumer perception, with anything other than the familiar glass bottle look running the risk of being categorised as gimmicky. But weigh these factors against the advantages of portability and safety, and there seems room for PET-packaged beers in a certain corner of the market.
Brass Pilsener and Lager fall very much in the generic European-style lager space that takes up a lot of the beer shelves in the majority of liquor stores. To their credit, the PET packaging doesn’t diminish the quality of the beer, and it certainly makes a case that plastic can work. As for the question of whether it would diminish shelf life, I guess I can only wait and see.
Whether PET will become an alternative for other breweries or other beer styles, particularly those with higher alcohol content, I think it’s highly doubtful. A practical solution to certain problems, but it raises other problems whose solution is not yet clear.
BRASS; An authentic Belgian beer… with a twist!
Landing on Australian shores this month, BRASS Belgium Beer offers beer lovers everything they would expect from authentic, fully-imported, 4.7% alcohol lager and pilsner brewed in the famous beer region of Limberg, Belgium… and a whole lot more!
Available in lightweight, eco-friendly PET bottles, BRASS is an ideal companion for summer BBQs, parties or events where glass is not permitted. The PET bottle manufacturing life cycle results in significantly less CO2 emissions than aluminium cans and glass bottles, meaning Aussies can now enjoy an easy-drinking beer that is light and golden in colour whilst relaxing in the knowledge that they’re doing ‘their bit’ for the environment.
The 100% recyclable, multi-layered 330ml PET bottles with patented barrier solution ensures all its unique properties like foam, carbonation, colour, aroma, flavour and bitterness are protected to deliver a high quality Belgian Beer.
Brewed using traditional methods in a brewery that has been in the same careful family hands for over 250 years, BRASS offers beer drinkers two refreshing options to choose from; BRASS Lager or BRASS Pilsner.
- BRASS Lager is produced using the traditional bottom fermenting yeast, resulting in a simple, crisp and clean beer that is easy to drink with or without food.
- BRASS Pilsner is based on traditional Czech pils styles and has a marvellous palate that is simultaneously soft and dry, effervescent and hoppy while still delivering a gentle aftertaste.
Features and benefits:
- Great-tasting, fully-imported Belgian beer brewed to traditional methods, meaning no artificial additives, preservatives or colours
- Available in 100% recyclable PET bottles and no land fill when combined with an appropriate recycling solution
- Minimises glassing and drink spiking issues and is an aesthetically pleasing alternative to plastic cups
- A 24 bottle case of BRASS weighs just 8kgs compared to approximately 14kgs for its glass alternative – making it an ideal option to take to BBQs and other outdoor events
- Lightweight to carry reducing the chance of staff in bars and restaurants injuring themselves
- Ready to serve at functions and events where glass is not permitted; an easy way to increase labour productivity
- 4.7% alcohol with a 9 month shelf life from production
BRASS Beer is available in all Dan Murphy’s and selected independent stores. RRP is $49.95 for a case or $16.95 for a 6 pack.
For more information visit www.brass-beer.com or http://www.facebook.com/brassbeer.
Stockists: Ph (02) 9347 2446.