There are many different can sizes to choose from, and even more people trying to tell you which one is best. But we’re here to tell you that we have the true right answer: It’s up to you! As long as you’re following your local liquor laws, there are no real reasons for what beer should go in what size can.
However, we know that doesn’t entirely solve the dilemma. You still have to choose a size at some point, so we’ve put together some advice on how to pick the right beer can size for your project.
What Is a Standard Beer Can Size?
Average Beer Can Size
The standard beer can size is 12 oz, which are the short cans that make for easy 6-packs. They’re popular with beers of all varieties, cold brews, sodas, and plenty of other drinks because they’re easy to drink and store. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your beer getting too warm if you don’t drink it fast enough.
But if you’re talking tap-fresh craft beer, the go-to beer can size is going to be your 16-oz tallboy. They’re easy to spot on a shelf, have plenty of label space, and are associated with unique products. Tallboys are also popular with energy drinks, canned water, and other specialty beverages, though their popularity has also extended to cold brews and sodas.
Small Beer Can Size
Perfect for easy transportation, just getting a little taste, or making a to-go sample flight, 8-oz cans are about as small as you’re going to find in most places. They’re perfect for barrel-aged beers, high alcohol content beers, as well as premium beverages like cocktails, wine, and more.
Big Beer Can Size
If you want a beer can size that will let you take your time, you’ve got plenty of options. Just a short step up from the tallboy is the 19.2-oz stovepipe, which is common for selling individual cans. If you’re looking for a bigger step up, we offer the 24 oz, as well as the 32-oz growler-in-a-can known as a CrowlerTM. These cans are great for selling beer to go in higher volumes, or just making a statement.
Factors in Choosing a Beer Can Size
Understanding the existing and target customers for your beer is one of the first steps in picking your beer can size. If you know who is drinking and where they like to drink it, you can figure out what size they might prefer.
For example, if your customers are grabbing a beer in the singles cooler of a local convenience store, the 19.2oz or 24oz cans are the go-tos. For customers heading to a “backyard grill party”, the tried and true 12oz is a great bet. If your customers are classic craft beer enthusiasts, the 32oz to-go Crowlers offer everything on tap in a perfect shareable package.
A good deciding factor when choosing which beer can size is right for your operation is how you plan to sell it. Will cans be sold individually or in a case? If it's being sold in a store, what other products will it be next to? Do you want your product to pop out with a unique can size or match your customers’ expectations?
We might recommend running an experiment or two. Try selling a couple of different sizes and see what works best. Maybe you’ll find that they both work, or one size works best in a specific environment.
If you’re selling beer on a shelf, the label is critical to grabbing the customer’s attention and giving them an idea of what the beer inside is like. The size of the can will determine what your label looks like, so those decisions go hand in hand. If you’ve got a great design, and you really want to make it pop, a 16-oz tallboy or 12-oz sleek is a great choice.
Now, this issue is a matter of heated debate within the beer community: Some people believe that larger beer cans hold their flavor better than smaller cans. The idea is that small cans have a higher percentage of oxygen in them, which breaks down the flavor over time.
But if there is an effect on the taste, it's likely to be minimal compared to how it’s filled. As long as you’re sticking to best practices when you’re brewing, filling, and canning, we wouldn’t worry too much about an ever-so-slight difference in proportional oxygen levels.
Getting Started Canning Beer
Once you’ve decided on a beer can size for your project, you’ll need a canning machine that can seal them. We have a canning machine available for every size mentioned above and also offer options for 250-ml, 330-ml, 500-ml, and 1-L cans along with other less common sizes.
The SL1 Homebrewer and BenchMK are specifically designed for hobbyists, while the Model 7 is ideal for professional brewers. Our newest creation, the Model 8, will seam your can with just the push of a button. Each canning machine is made from high-quality materials, finishes a seam within seconds, and can be used with minimal training.
Additionally, both the Model 7 and Model 8 can be re-tooled for different can diameters if you change your mind on what size is right for you!
The Big To-Go Question: 16 oz vs. 32 oz?
Since both 16 oz and 32 oz are the two most popular choices for on-demand to-go beer, this is probably the biggest debate you’ll find in the brewing community when it comes to beer can size.
So, which one should you pick? It's a tough one. On the one hand, the 32 oz makes an awesome statement when showing up to a dinner party. But the 16 oz cans offer more style options and can be bundled into variety 4-packs. The price of the can doesn’t matter much, considering a 16 oz can costs roughly half of what a 32oz can costs. Plus, sealing two 16 oz cans instead of one 32 oz can only takes a few more seconds.
We sell about the same number of 16 oz seamers as 32 oz seamers, so clearly both cans make great to-go packaging.