By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 17, 2021 at 12:01 PM

Well, beer drinkers, the time has come to bid a fond farewell to the classic brown Sprecher beer bottle.

Although the glass classic has been a part of the Sprecher brand since its beginning in 1985, the Glendale-based brewer is trading in glass for aluminum.

Beginning in January, all of Sprecher’s beers will be packaged in 12-ounce cans, all with new can art.

Currently, Sprecher packages a few beers – Juicy IPA, Special Amber and Pineapple X-Press – in 12-ounce cans.

The 2022 packaged beer lineup.

Many of us will always fondly remember enjoying a Special Amber or Black Bavarian straight from the bottle.

Don’t worry, root beer fans, the sodas will remain in bottles.

“It is a big deal,” says head brewer Brian Destree. “We brought in a new can filler that we're installing right now. It’s to free up capacity for the soda.”

Although there are no plans for 16-ounce cans at the moment, the new line can handle them.

Current cans.

Even before Sprecher’s recent announcement of a slate of new soda acquisitions, soft drinks were booming for the company, accounting for something like 90 percent of total sales.

One of those new acquisitions was the vintage Chicago classic, Green River, and sales of that hyper-verdant-colored soda have already been huge for Sprecher.

“When we launched Green River on our website it helped us have our single biggest day of e-commerce sales in quarter four,” says Sprecher’s Director of Communication, Tim Cigelske.

Green RiverX

“There is a growing demand for the full line of craft sodas. Overall, our November e-commerce sales so far have more than doubled year over year.”

The end of beer in glass comes with an upside, adds Destree.

“Also, in my mind now, cans are a better package for beer,” he says. “Keeps it fresher longer.”

Sheboygan’s 3 Sheeps Brewing also recently announced that it would eschew glass for 12-ounce cans beginning next year (except for some specialty brews), and like 3 Sheeps, Destree says the decision was unrelated to shortages of glass bottles that have been affecting some brewers.

“Luckily we’re sitting alright for glass,” he says. “There are people that are having issues getting glass, but we're alright now, knock on wood.

“(The change) is just to free up line time, so we don’t have to take up time on the bottling line for beer.”

Also, says Destree, the new can filler will help ease pressure on beer packaging schedules.

“Right now, all the beers are in 12-ounce (bottles) and we only run 12-ounce maybe a week a month,” he notes. “So, we have to have all the beer ready for one day. Now we'll be able to spread it out and it makes it easier from an operational standpoint.”

It’s notable that a number of the recently acquired sodas are in 12-ounce bottles, too, surely squeezing demand for that week of bottling.

Getting Abbey Triple off the 12-ounce bottling line makes room for Green River and other sodas.

Sprecher plans to upgrade its bottling line next year, says Destree.

There are, he adds, no plans to switch the sodas entirely to cans.

When the new cans arrive at the start of 2022 they will also have a brand refresh, according to Cigelske, including new can art, new labels, a new website and more.


Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.