If you drink a lot of canned beer, you might have noticed a shift in how some six-packs are packaged. A handful of local breweries have switched to using PakTech holders, rigid plastic can connectors that secure the cans from the top.
While the PakTech style of can holder has been used in the beer industry since at least 2008 when Maui Brewing adopted the style, this method has recently sparked some conversation among beer drinkers in Texas as they started to appear on packs of local beer like Austin Beerworks, Deep Ellum and Hops & Grain. Some argue it's become more difficult to withdraw cans from the new carriers than from your average flimsy plastic loops. Most recently, this snarky guide to opening said holsters was posted on the Dallas Observer website, sparking a wave of commentary on social media.
Instead of whining about how difficult they are to remove, I figured it would be more productive to reach out to a brewer or two and find out why they adopted the change. So I stopped by Austin Beerworks to get the scoop straight from the source.
The most appealing attribute for the consumer is that they have a built-in mechanism that makes them easier to carry, Michael Graham explained. Because the plastic tops connect each can to one another, the cans don't fall out of the system as easily as they might with those flimsy plastic loops. I personally lost a can or two the other day when lugging in groceries from my car because the cheap plastic rings don't secure the cans together as efficiently. In the video above, Graham proves this point by shaking a six-pack vigorously. You'll note no cans fall away from the pack.
The carriers are also designed so that it's easier to stack six-packs, making displays at retail stores easier to construct and delivering cases more efficient. Because the bottom of each can sits securely on the top of the other cans, there isn't any pesky slipping or sliding around.
Graham also says they are made from 96% post-consumer recycled plastic and are 100% recyclable after use. A point that both Josh Hare from Hops & Grain, and Tait Lifto from Deep Ellum also echoed as primary perks for their use. Will Golden of Austin Beerworks also noted that they are designed in a way that won't kill wildlife.
Adam DeBower of Austin Beerworks explained that they are also appealing because they "keep the tops of our cans clean and free of any (debris) that may fall on them." DeBower said that while he's heard people complain about how they are more complicated to remove, he's also "seen 2 year olds do it with little difficulty, so it may just be the paradigm shift from the (bad) ones that kill sea turtles to these that are reusable and recyclable, sort of like the paradigm shift from going from pen and paper to using a computer."
The only downsides? Other than the apparent issues customers are having with removing cans from the holders, Graham said they are implemented at an extra cost to the brewery, a burden that many overlook in favor of their overwhelmingly positive attributes.
For more information on the holders, check out this interview with the Oregon-based company that makes them, and watch the video above to discover the proper way to remove a can from the holder.