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 PakTech holders, rigid plastic can connectors that secure the cans from the top.
Although 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 conversation among beer drinkers in Texas as they started to appear on packs of local beer including Austin Beerworks, Deep Ellum and Hops & Grain. Some argue it’s more difficult to withdraw cans from the new carriers than from your average flimsy plastic loops. Most recently, a snarky guide to opening the holsters was posted on the Dallas Observer website, sparking a wave of commentary on social media.
Instead of whining about how difficult the packs are to use, I figured it would be more productive to reach out to a brewer or two and find out why they adopted the change. I stopped by Austin Beerworks to get the scoop straight from the source.
The most appealing feature for consumers is that the new six-packs have a built-in mechanism that makes them easier to carry, Michael Graham said. 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 lost a can or two recently while lugging in groceries from my car because the cheap plastic rings don’t secure the cans together as efficiently.)
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 another can, there isn’t any pesky slipping or sliding around.
Graham also says they are made from 96 percent post-consumer recycled plastic and are 100 percent recyclable after use. Josh Hare from Hops & Grain and Tait Lifto from Deep Ellum also echoed this point as a primary perk. Will Golden of Austin Beerworks also noted that they are designed in a way that won’t kill wildlife.
Adam DeBower of Austin Beerworks said the packs also are appealing because they “keep the tops of our cans clean and free of any (debris) that may fall on them.” DeBower said that although 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 the packs cost more for breweries to use, a burden that many overlook in favor of their positive attributes.
So how do you remove a can from a PakTech holder? As Michael Graham of Austin Beerworks demonstrates in a video at austin360.com/liquid, the trick is to pull out and away (put the six-pack on a flat surface) and not down.
They are designed to keep cans from falling out of their holders, after all, which you’ll see as Graham shakes a PakTech six-pack vigorously.