Canned Beer That’s Actually Good

Canned Beer That’s Actually Good(cont.)

“Modern cans more securely isolate the beer, cutting off light and oxygen more effectively than capped or corked bottles,” says Alec Stefansky of Santa Cruz, California-based Uncommon Brewers. Plus, he says, “They’re lighter, and less susceptible to damage during transport and packaging.” No wonder, then, that when Uncommon began packaging its Golden State Ale and Siamese Twin Ale for retail this past spring, it chose cans over bottles.

Nor do the cans, as a rule, give beer a metallic, tinny taste. That’s because aluminum beverage cans—whether Fat Tire, Budweiser, or Mountain Dew—are lined with a thin, food-grade polymer coating, which means the beer never touches metal.
21st Amendment’s Brew Free! Or Die IPA and Hell or High
Watermelon Wheat Beer
(The coating does contain BPA, but according to New Belgium’s Tinkerer blog the amount is minuscule.)

And if you’re still not convinced that cans don’t taste tinny, conduct a test yourself. As Joshua Charlton of distributor Pacific Libations notes, if you pour “the same beer from a bottle and a can into a glass,” easily “90 percent of people won’t know the difference.”

“I don’t know why the stigma still holds … craft from a can ROCKS!” writes user Deuane in the forums on the BeerAdvocate website. “Oskar Blues, Sly Fox, Surly, Southern Star, 21st Amendment … they all are quality beers regardless if from a can or a bottle.” Echoes user Nickls: “I just finished off a Ten Fidy, and had some Butternuts Snapperhead yesterday evening. Couldn’t find any traits that would suggest they were canned versus bottled, i.e. no metallic taste.”


Uncommon Brewers’ Siamese Twin Ale

Cans are much lighter to carry around, which means less gas used during shipping; plus they require fewer resources to manufacture, they’re more commonly recycled (the Container Recycling Institute claims that the can recycling rate is almost twice that of glass), they’re quicker to chill, and they can go places bottles can’t (beaches, parks, stadiums).

And canned micros may be just in time to capitalize on the retro-chic beer trend of younger drinkers embracing old-school brands like Pabst and Schlitz, which are often sold in cans.

Some restaurateurs, though, aren’t yet won over. Take the case of Uncommon Brewers. Stefansky says, “I recently had a local restaurant owner tell me flat out that she’ll never put a can on one of her tables.” So there’s still work to be done. “I’m hoping to change that opinion,” he says, “one customer at a time.”

Kurt Wolff is editor/manager of Download.com and MP3.com, and author of The Rough Guide to Country Music. He’s written about food, drink, and travel for various publishers including Zagat Surveys, Lonely Planet, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He also wrote a beer column for the Guardian called Hopped Up.