Why 19.2-Ounce Cans Dominate Craft Sales in C-Stores

Look back six years.  What beer package was selling in convenience stores?  The 22-ounce "bomber" bottle represented 75% of craft beer sales in C-stores.  The 19.2-ounce can?  Just 10% of sales.  

Today, the 19.2-ounce can represents more than 92% of craft singles at C-stores, says Matt Herbert, sales director for Tenth & Blake, the U.S. craft division of Molson Coors Beverage Co.

Part of the reason the "stovepipe" can is doing so well in C-stores, Herbert says, is that "convenience shoppers go in knowing what they want and picking up other purchases while they’re in the store,” he says. “When it comes to beer, knowing how exploratory craft consumers are, you have to figure out a way to provide variety, value and trending styles.

“How do you do that? You offer singles.”

Three of the top 10 sellers nationally are imperial or double IPA. Tenth & Blake is seeing the same trends with its portfolio. Higher-ABV IPAs are growing, with Terrapin Beer Co.’s Depth Perception Imperial IPA up nearly 383% in 2022 versus 2021 and Hop Valley Brewing’s Alpha Centauri IPA up more than 40%, according to Circana convenience store data.

Terrapin’s 19.2 lineup grew even more last year, with its flagship IPA Hopsecutioner hitting shelves, alongside its Luau Krunkles IPA. Revolver Brewing and A.C. Golden Brewing Co. both released higher-ABV beers in the format this year, as well, introducing their respective All Cattle, No Hat Imperial IPA and Sneaky 8 Juicy Double IPA last month. In Michigan, Atwater Brewery is set to release an imperial IPA soon.

Meanwhile, Hop Valley introduced another imperial IPA, Stash Bandicoot, in 19.2s last year. In total, it has eight beers in 19.2 formats.

“You have this need for flavor and complexity and (19.2s) really fit the bill,” says Adrian Benkonvich, Hop Valley’s president. “And you’re delivering on value. It’s a no brainer for a consumer looking to try something new.

“If you’re curious about trying something new, which one do you think you’re going to pick?” Benkonvich says.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to convince curious consumers to buy larger pack sizes. While 12-packs are typical, Hop Valley recently released its Triple Double imperial IPA variety pack, a six-pack that includes Alpha Centauri, Stash Bandicoot and Cryo Stash, an imperial IPA that was first released as a 19.2 in 2018. Benkonvich is encouraged by the early results.

“Because of the value proposition (of 19.2s), we’re seeing people trial and then jump to a six pack,” he says. “We’re creating a nice little niche for ourselves with six packs.”

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