Crafty Carton is one of those ideas that once you see it, you wonder why it didn’t come about earlier. It doesn’t take long to understand the product — a disposable, paper container, similar to a milk carton, which can be filled with up to two pints (32 ounces) of draft beer. Produced by NJ-based Leisure Pak, this is the apex of 400 years of the origami arts: a paper growler.
Paper containers definitely hold some advantages over the traditional glass. For the proprietor of a pub or taproom, the cost difference is significant. Even at wholesale pricing, most glass growlers run $3–$6 each. Compare that to the Crafty Cartons, which cost about $0.50 each. Plus, a whole stack of cartons has the same footprint as just one glass growler. They can be custom-printed to serve as additional marketing exposure for the bar or brewery, as well.
There’s no broken glass risk, no deposit-return policy to mess with, no cleaning, no sanitizing and no storing of little brown jugs. Crafty Carton’s paper growlers have the potential to significantly grow the draft-beer-to-go market, as the cost, space and hassle required to add growler-fills to an existing bar has long been a roadblock. Now it’s possible to grab a carton, fill ’er up, and sell two additional pints that night.
Great idea, but will the beer still taste good? (You basically have keg beer in a paper cup.) The container itself will not affect any flavors, but don’t expect it to keep in the fridge for any longer than a glass of draft beer you poured and then put away. The cartons do not have a sealed cap to keep the suds from going flat, and pouring mixes the beer with oxygen. Your brew has maybe a day, possibly two, before you start to notice the difference. As long as you’re buying the extra pints to drink right away, and not for cellaring, Crafty Cartons should work fine.
The idea seems smart; why don’t we see this in use more often? Is beer-to-go even legal? The legality in general is up to local ordinance. However, if an establishment is already licensed to sell off-site beverages, Crafty Cartons appear to be an easy option. While bars might have a bit of a tough time with licensing restrictions, don’t be surprised to see Crafty Carton become a staple at brewpubs and taprooms soon. Of course, if you do snag a carton or two, be smart and put them in your trunk for the ride home, to avoid having to argue with any authorities on whether paper cartons count as ‘sealed containers’ or not.
Tasty draft beer at home, at a low cost to retailers sounds good, and there’s a green side: these cartons are made from sustainably-sourced wood pulp and are 100% biodegradable. Good for the craft beer market, good for you, and even good for the environment. What’s not to like?
Fifteen years ago, wine snobs scoffed at twist-tops, now some of the best pinots in the world have metal caps. Will craft beer drinkers support brew transported in essentially a paper cup? If the beer got from a tap, to your house, and into your bell, that’s positive progress. Who knows, fifteen years from now you may hear hipsters at brewpubs scoff, “Oh, you’re still using glass?”
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