Coors Light celebrates 15 years of colour changing cans

Coors Light is celebrating 15 years since it started using colour-changing ink on its cans.

Lyle Small approached the beer maker back in 2002 about turning the mountains on its cans blue. “Mountains are blue” has become Coors Light’s calling card and call to action.

Small owns a small business, Chromatic Technologies, Inc. (CTI), and attended Cornell University, where he tinkered with ink, specifically thermochromic ink technology that changes colour when exposed to heat or cold.

For years, CTI, which Small founded in 1993, supplied the financial services sector, while also working with sunlight-activated and glow-in-the-dark ink technologies.

And Small, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., had one company in mind, one whose ads boasted beer as cold and refreshing as the Rocky Mountains.

In 2002, Small came knocking at Coors. Through his persistence, Small sold the beermaker on an idea that helped propel Coors Light to become the No. 2 best-selling beer in America, while transforming not only how it is packaged, but how also consumers perceive the beer through the simplest of messages: mountains are blue, beer is cold.

And in 2022, 15 years after the colour-changing technology first appeared on Coors Light’s cans, the message is as relevant as ever.

“It’s really important to Coors Light as a brand. We’re the only beer brand that’s cold lagered, cold filtered and cold packaged, so we really want to easily communicate that to consumers,” says Chris Steele, senior marketing director for Coors Light. “The blue mountains are a manifestation of our commitment to cold.”

By 2006, the company invited Small to test out his colour-changing ink at its Rocky Mountain Metal Container plant in Golden. There, Small spent countless hours struggling to get consistent ink application on cans as they zipped down the line at 2,000 cans a minute.

Then, on July 4, 2006, he had a “eureka” moment, discovering how he could double the colour intensity of the blue mountains to make the product viable.

“That was the big breakthrough,” he says.

The mountains on the cans would turn blue at approximately 46 degrees Fahrenheit and went into production. First in 2007 in the U.K. Then in 2008 in Canada. And they finally reached the U.S. in 2009.

Lost Password