I'm writing an article (real writing! for real money!) about premium bottled ales (PBAs), which as we all know is the category that will save the beer market from ruin (tongue only slightly in cheek). The market for PBAs has bucked the trend of decline, and has been in steady growth, by value and volume, for the last several years (roughly 6-8% per annum). I went to visit Badger (aka Hall & Woodhouse) last month, and they are one of the breweries who have seized upon this statistic and run with it. I've mentioned elsewhere the tenfold increase in the proportion of their output that is bottled - in fact, checking the figures, they've moved from bottling 5% of their output to around 60% of their output. I find that quite staggering, and in fact I made myself look like a simpleton by insisting we go over that point three times, just to make sure I was interpreting the data correctly.
Not content with this, Badger are also trying to create a new category, that of premium canned ale. It's a theme that has been touched on here, by young Dredge and an awful lot of respondents, but I'm not sure that the concept of British premium canned ale is one that has been floated in the same way as American craft beers. Badger are perfectly serious about this - Tanglefoot in a can is their first effort, soon to be followed by other beers in their portfolio - First Gold seems to be the next likely candidate for the can treatment.
I'm not sure what to make of it. In much the same way as some people don't really drink bottled beer, I don't really go for cans. The last beer I drank out of a can was Bass, and it was four months past its 'best before' date - I was curious to see what had happened to it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nothing had - it tasted exactly as I remembered Bass to taste. If it can keep average beer tasting perfectly average well past its expiry date, maybe Badger will make a success of creating a premium canned ale category.