Iron City brew chills in aluminum bottle

In August, Pittsburgh Brewing Co., Pittsburgh, PA, launched 12-oz bottles of Iron City beer in aluminum bottles.

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The bottles are impact-extruded by CCL Container using aluminum from Alcoa that's three times thicker than that used for aluminum cans. The bottles are dry-offset printed in three colors plus gloss varnish.

"It's an environmentally friendly and unbreakable bottle that makes an attractive, unique package that keeps our beer fresher and colder longer," says PBC vice chairman Joseph Piccirilli. Shortly after the launch, Piccirilli said the brewer received order requests from states--and countries--outside PBC's 30-plus state distribution network. The bottles are sold singly and cased.

The bottle's 26-mm crown finish requires an opener, an aspect that Piccirilli says ensures proper capping and freshness. "Plus there's less chance of ultraviolet rays getting through the package as opposed to glass" he adds.

A 24-count case from International Paper adapts the glass bottle case, though it is downsized a bit because the aluminum bottles can be packed tighter, Piccirilli says. The case's three-color flexo printing also emphasizes the word "aluminum" and features the Alcoa logo on its sides.

The company modified a glass bottling line--and reportedly spent $300ꯠ to do so--that Piccirilli says is quieter and safer when running the new bottles. He says PBC won't exit glass completely no matter how well the new bottle sells.

"That would be a good problem," Piccirilli responds. "We're confident the aluminum bottle will become the package of the future." So much so that he claims PBC has reduced its margins to sell a case for just $1 more than 24-packs of glass, or to $18.99, though he admits the aluminum bottle is at least 2.5 times more expensive than glass.

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