In 1985, there were 10 breweries in Canada. Now, there are more than 700, the majority of which are craft brands—the happy result of Canadians’ love for a small-batch brew. These days, it seems like the big brands are finally catching up to individual tastes and marketing their products to look more “craft”. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so let’s all raise a glass to the little guys for sparking a packaging trend.

By definition, craft brands are different. While there’s no standardized measure to qualify for craft status, in Canada it’s generally accepted that craft brewers are small, independent, and, according to the newly formed Canadian Craft Brewers Associated, they “embody a culture shaped by a belief in authenticity, community and environmental responsibility.” These are all positive qualities that might as easily be applied to Canadians themselves. It’s no wonder that the craft movement is strong in this country.

One way thirsty beer and cider connoisseurs identify new brews is through packaging. If you scan the shelf at your local shop you’ll notice something about the craft products: many of them use labels on their cans. These are the drinks with a tell-tale silver stripe around the top and the bottom of the cans, as opposed to the full-graphic wrap of a sleeve. This “look” came about organically—small-batch brewers usually can’t meet the minimum requirements for a run on sleeves. But now, the quality and uniqueness of craft products has made their inexpensive packaging—labels—cool. Muddy York Brewing Co. in Toronto? They’re using labels. So are Strathcona Beer company in Vancouver, Two Crows Brewing in Halifax, and hundreds of other craft brewers across the country. So perhaps it should come as no surprise to see mega-brand Grower’s releasing a cider in a labelled can. Seems the big brands are catching on to the thirst for craft.

Canada’s love for small producers (and great beer) is as vast as our country. It’s so strong that the big brands are taking notice, which means our craft makers are brewing it right. We say: Cheers to that!

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