Craft Beer Meets Shrink Sleeve Labels

The craft beer industry is at its height in popularity, and to many brewers, how their craft beer looks from the outside is just as important as how it tastes. In the blog below, we will discuss shrink sleeve labels and how they are used in the craft brew industry.

What are shrink sleeve labels?

Before we dive in, here is a brief explanation of shrink sleeve labels. Full-body shrink sleeves cover the entire container to create a 360-degree design from top to bottom. These sleeves can be used for single packaging or to create a multi-pack. A multi-pack is when multiple containers are packaged using a larger shrink sleeve. This type of packaging is often used when offering a two-for-one sale, packaging products to sell excess inventory, or adding a new sample to an existing product. Middle sleeve shrink labels are another option to cover part of a container. This label is typically used in consumer products like beverages, food, and health and beauty.

Shrink sleeve labels can be applied by hand or with automated equipment such as AFM’s LX-100LX-150, and LX-350 shrink sleeve label applicators. AFM manufactures sleeve applicators for a wide range of production speeds and environments depending on the size and application speeds desired. As a result, many companies are using shrink sleeve equipment to keep production rates high and their operation running as efficiently as possible.

In automated applications, the labels are put on a sleeve roll and fed into the label applicator. The labels are then fed through the machine into a cutting assembly and cut to a specified height. The cut labels are then applied to the container using the equipment’s label applicator wheels.


How do shrink sleeve labels benefit you, the craft brewer?

In the seemingly ever-growing craft industry, the ability to stand out in the field becomes an important factor. One way to do that is to incorporate shrink sleeve labels into your production. A great feature of shrink sleeve labels is that the whole surface of the product can be covered with eye-catching graphics and information about your product.

Because the labels are custom, you can create a design that fits your brand and tells your customers a story about your company. When using shrink sleeve labels, your product will stand out on the shelf. Many breweries use brighter colors, a variety of gloss or matte finishes, and designs on their shrink sleeve labels to create brand awareness.

When ordering pre-printed cans, there is often a minimum requirement for directly printing onto the cans reaching into the 100,000s. This could be close to their whole year output for many smaller breweries. This is where shrink sleeve labels come in. Breweries can order blank cans, often referred to as brites, and then purchase pre-cut labels to be applied by hand or ordered as rolls and applied by an applicator. These custom labels are also great for seasonal or limited-run beers and give breweries more inventory flexibility.

Shrink sleeves and pressure-sensitive labels are two common ways to label beer cans. Both are great options, but shrink sleeve labels allow you to use the whole can for designs and beer information. Sleeves are great for eye-catching designs to create more brand awareness. Shrink sleeve labels are also great to use when the product is used or stored in different environments. Pressure-sensitive labels can be affected in an environment with moisture because of the adhesive used to stick them to the can. Shrink sleeve labels are made with plastic and are not affected by moisture.

As you can see, shrink sleeve labels are becoming more common in the craft beer industry. They offer many benefits to both small and big breweries and more flexibility when creating seasonal and limited beers.

For more information on shrink sleeves and the equipment used to apply the labels, visit the equipment section of our website and view AFM’s full line of sleeving solutions!

Do you still have questions about shrink sleeve labeling, shrink tunnels, or tamper-evident bands? AFM’s knowledgeable team of district sales managers is here to answer your call.

Contact us today at (714) 974-9006 or by email at