How to Choose the Right Closures for Your Beer or Spirits

By: Alyssa L. Ochs 

Creating drinkable products in large tanks is just one part of what it takes to run a successful craft beverage business. Brewers and distillers need to find effective, affordable and reliable ways to package their creations. That is where traditional and specialized closures come into play.  

  Choosing the right types of caps, corks and closures depends on a variety of factors. Fortunately, there are some excellent industry-specific products available to get the job done right. 

Overview of Beer Closures  

  There are many ways to seal a beer, depending on the type of container, the beer’s style or brewer’s preferences. Beer closures give your brand more character and can serve a decorative purpose in addition to a purely functional one. For example, for Belgian beer, hooded wires and Belgian beer corks are often used to give beers a traditional and unique appearance. These cork and cage closures set the product apart as a premium style while ensuring safety and freshness.  

  Other beer closures include aluminum closures commonly used for aluminum and glass beer bottles, wire bales for flip tops, plastic screw caps and shrink capsules. You might also choose oxygen-absorbing bottle caps with liners to reduce oxidation in the beer. Meanwhile, there are special screw caps commonly used for growlers. Crown caps are popular in the beer industry because they reduce oxygen egress and can either be twisted off or be pried off with a bottle opener.  

  Tecnocap LLC specializes in closures for the craft beverage market. It is a worldwide metal packaging manufacturer that produces metal closures for plastic containers and glass jars. It is also one of the largest producers of tinplate and aluminum closures and aluminum bottles for many well-known consumer brands.  

  “For the craft beer market, Tecnocap offers the 38/400 continuous thread closure for growlers and is bringing to market a new aluminum closure, similar to a crown, called SuperClosure,” said Richard A. Smith, Tecnocap’s marketing manager. 

  The SuperClosure goes beyond a standard closure. According to Smith, it requires less than half the pressure to apply and works with both twist-off and pry-off bottles. Also, the SuperClosure is made from aluminum, so rust is not an issue, and it can maintain an internal pressure of over 150 psi.   

  “The most significant advantages are to the consumer,” Smith said. “There are no sharp edges as found with a typical tinplate crown. The SuperClosure is comfortable when grasping it to open, and the removal torque is significantly less. The lower removal torque allows for a greater potential market, now including individuals who have difficulty manually opening a beer bottle. The SuperClosure is more costly than typical steel crowns, but the advantages that SuperClosure offers can more than offset the additional cost. If a bottler uses magnetism to hold their crown during capping, Tecnocap can potentially retrofit the cappers, at no cost to the filler, to allow the capper to use an aluminum closure.”   

Overview of Closures for Spirits  

  For craft spirits, there are specialty screw caps commonly used among distilleries to ensure that the contents stay fresh and secure inside the bottle or other type of container. Bar-top, roll-on and swing-top closures are frequently used for spirits. Jarred spirits commonly have tinplate and aluminum continuous thread screw cap closures.  

  Overall, materials for spirit closures range from aluminum to wood, plastic and other synthetic materials. Tasting corks are also an option, with a plastic top and cork base, for temporarily sealing liquor bottles between customer tastings at the distillery.  

  Screw-tops are uncomplicated, screwing on and off easily. Bar-top closures offer more decorative options that highlight a spirit’s brand and set the bottle apart from others on the retail shelf. Roll-on, pilfer-proof closures are tamper-evident to ensure extra security and protection. Swing-top closures are more commonly used for beer and specialty food products, such as olive oil, rather than spirits. 

  “For distilled spirits, Tecnocap offers multiple sizes of continuous thread closures and the Espritbonnet with both a standard and a tamper-evident version,” said Smith. 

  He said that with continuous thread closures, there is a wide range of sizes available with various liners to accommodate essentially any beverage. However, due to the pandemic, custom printed closures have an extended lead time, as has become the norm with many closure manufacturers.  

  Tecnocap’s Espritbonnet closures are designed specifically for sprits to provide a more attractive, upscale appearance. “The tall, reinforced profile was a requirement requested by a customer to eliminate crushing of the closure during application,” Smith said. “The cost of metal is usually more costly than plastic closures, and plastic is found to be the most common alternative to metal closures. However, plastic allows for little-to-no customization and has limitations on its recyclability. Metal can be recycled indefinitely without any loss of functional properties.”   

  O. Berk Kols Containers is another company that serves the craft distillery market and makes closures for spirit bottles. O. Berk has been in the packaging industry for over 100 years and serves various markets, including food and beverages, beauty and personal care, cannabis, healthcare and pharma, household and industrial.  

  Claire Schilling, account executive for O. Berk Kols Containers, told Beverage Master Magazine, “O. Berk Kols Containers offers an array of various bar-top cork closures with synthetic shanks, and we stock a black plastic top, a café brown wood top and a natural wood top cork in our warehouse in both 19.5mm and 22.5mm sizes.” These are commonly used closures in craft spirit distilleries and part of the extensive catalog offered by O. Berk. 

  Shilling told Beverage Master Magazine that choosing the right closure relates to how imperative it is to select the correct size to fit the bottleneck finish. “An 18.5mm neck finish requires a 19.5mm cork, and a 21.5mm neck finish requires a 22.5mm cork,” she said.  

Trends in Craft Beverage Closures  

  Although it may seem like beer and spirit closures serve a basic purpose, there have been innovations in this space during recent years. The needs of craft beverage producers are constantly changing, so equipment suppliers must stay in tune with current demands to be competitive and provide the best service. 

  Smith told Beverage Master Magazine that a notable trend in the craft beer market has to do with the severe shortage of cans available. Cans have been incredibly popular in this industry over the last few years; however, some breweries have turned their attention back to bottles due to can shortages. 

  “Tecnocap also manufactures aluminum beer bottles,” Smith said. “With the bottle and SuperClosure, Tecnocap can offer a complete aluminum package. The aluminum beer bottles can be produced in various sizes, providing the bottles in a single color or highly appealing graphics. The bottles can also be reused.”  

  Schilling said that the primary trend she has noticed is that “craft distillers like to choose corks that are keeping with their brand’s attributes for packaging.” 

Addressing the Issue of Leaks 

  By far, one of the most important issues concerning craft beverage closures is leaks and how to prevent them. Leaks are a significant issue for breweries and distilleries because of wasted product, messes and compromised quality.  

  “The best way to combat leakage would be to ensure the closure and container are compatible and provide a proper fit and that the correct liner is used for the process and the product being filled,” said Smith. “Tecnocap always encourages customers to test the package before placing it into production, and we can offer closures for testing.”   

Schilling said, “There are single-form corks made by manufacturers to counter the leakage issues caused when the cork tops separate from the shanks.” 

Choosing the Best Closures for Your Business  

  As you can see, there is more to closures than one might initially expect, primarily if you work in the craft beverage industry. Closure choices affect total expenditures, product quality and the perception of the brand.  

  However, closures are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to packaging beer and spirits. There are also decisions about bottle size, labels, screen printing, digital printing and other customizations. These components work together to give the packaging the desired look and feel, ultimately setting it up to be enjoyed and remembered with every sip. 

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