In the cyclical world of beer, it was inevitable that cans would be the popular vessel again. Everyone’s aware of their ability to economically shield beer from dreaded, skunking light. Everyone loves to take them to picnics and ballgames. Everyone loves to pop a top.
It seems as if the future of beer containers is not at all returning to tradition. The question is: which of these will enter the regular rotation with bottles and cans and glasses?
1. The bladder
You’re at a party and enjoying a great conversation. In one hand you’ve got a paper plate of pasta salad and in the other… a pint of a freshly poured double IPA. You’re trying to concentrate on what the woman with the smoky eye shadow is saying, but all the time you’re thinking, “This conversation would be going so much better if I could drink this beer, eat this food, and listen to this woman talk about ottomans, in that order.” Alas, you’re living in the present, and that’s not going to happen.
Clearly, you are not alone, and there’s a movement afoot to follow in the footsteps of cyclists when it comes to refreshment. Breweries are already road testing the bladder at bike shops from Santa Monica to San Diego. Marketing the bladder — it’s basically a cold temp-controlled, kidney shaped sack that you wear over your shoulder like a backpack — has been a bit of a challenge. First of all, there’s the name (Mango Brewing keeps calls it “the sack” without much additional popularity). Second of all, there’s the downside of missing out on the aroma when you draw beer through a straw. However, breweries in health-conscious states are not giving up on the bladder to compete for fridge space at your liquor stores and GNC.
2. The drone
Drones aren’t just for military leaders anymore. With Amazon perfecting drone deliveries of bed sheets and Blu Ray discs, breweries are right there with drone six-pack drop-offs. The drone delivery system of the future, however, goes beyond just a safe landing on your front lawn. The future of the beer-drone relationship is in sneak attacks.
Taking a page from the U.S. Air Force, beer drones are a hot new way to recruit common beer drinkers to the craft beer side. Typical examples employed by Redacted Brewing of Arizona include fly-ins during frat parties and retirement dinners. These drones not only bring the beer to you, they put it inside of you, just moments after knocking you unconscious. Survivors have been known to awaken with a new-found love of craft beer.
3. The denture
Micro takes on a whole new meaning with the denture: a set of beer-filled “teeth” that you can individually release through just a flick of the tongue. Fluid transfer has never been more intimate: some breweries are setting up free sizings on-site using personalized gelatin molds that tailor to your mouth.
Early previews of the denture are mixed. Most have said they enjoy the “flick-of-the-switch sip” concept that basically makes drinking utterly unnoticeable. Others have said that you lose out on mouthfeel, especially with beer that comes from the synthetic molars. Those with sensitivity to cold are turned off, but I see a market for the denture, particularly among middle school teachers.
4. The tat
Who says that beauty is only skin deep? When it comes to appreciating a beautiful bock or imperial red, the future of beer distribution is positively hypodermic. Snake Skin Brewing in Brooklyn and Ink the Bismark Brewing in Seattle are experimenting with the tat, the only form of beer distribution I’ve heard of that requires a waiver. Basically they inject the beer into your skin, along with food dye that resembles tattoo ink.
Clearly, this one is a bit out there, but for those in the know, it’s an addiction. Tattoo World calls it the next step in the “craft beer revolution.” Since you miss out on the taste, smell, mouthfeel, and sight of the beer, this won’t be considered the brewer’s choice anytime soon. Basically all you get is the alcohol, which isn’t my style, but has its merits.
5. The immersion
This new delivery system is available on-site only at breweries in the Midwest. Basically, if you want your beer the immersion way, you jump naked into a vat of freshly brewed beer, allowing for a whole-body experience with the beer. This comes with a cost: the typical immersion at All-In Brewing in Nebraska, for example, is $215. However, you can immerse with as many people as you can fit. So if you’re comfortable with it, you can bring the experience down to 12 or 13 bucks.
This is the only version of the new wave of brewery delivery that I’ve tried, and I have to say it was fulfilling. The effervescence of the hefeweizen took on a new meaning. By the time I finished the tank I was seeing sound and touching colors.