A KICK IN THE CAN :: Great Beer Here as the Can Conversation Continues

by David Daugherty on June 13, 2013

imagesThink your craft beer has to be in a bottle?  Think again.  There is a lot of talk going around,  some of it documented on this site and our YBN facebook page, about craft beer in cans.  It’s been argued about, praised, and even dogged, but what do we really know about cans today?

Well, environmentally speaking, it’s much better than bottles. According to John Chilson, contributor for AskMen, “Cans are easier on the environment. They are nearly 50% lighter to ship than bottles, reducing their carbon footprint. Aluminum is easily recycled and recycled cans can be back on the shelf with new product within 8 weeks!”

scofflawchicago.blogspot.com

scofflawchicago.blogspot.com

More & more micro-breweries are canning their beer.  It’s much more cost effective, thus allowing more and better ‘spreading of the gospel.’ I was inspired to write about this after hearing about the Ameri-CAN Canned Craft Beer Festival May 18th in Scottsdale, Arizona. More than 50 craft brewers were presenting more than 150 beers in cans at the festival… and the numbers are growing exponentially. Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado has been a pioneer of craft brew in cans, and I remember the first time I had their Dale’s Pale Ale, instantly thinking more breweries are going to go this route.

There is also more to aluminum cans vs. bottles than the environmental impact in the recyclable materials sense. Taking craft beer in aluminum cans with you to the golf course is much easier and they are safer around the pool.

But how about the taste?  Let’s start with 3 things that are bad for beer?  Light, heat, and oxygen. With cans, light and oxygen are eliminated right off the bat thanks to the aluminum cans being air tight. As for heat, well, that’s simply a common sense issue in shipping and storage, regardless of what container you’re using. So again, how about flavor?  I have heard people say that there is too much of a metal taste when it comes to cans, but truth be told, all of that has been eliminated. Today’s cans use a water-based polymer lining which gets rid of that metal taste which really existed only because the aluminum cans of the past were soldered with lead. Can I get a “yikes!?”

indexSan Tan Brewing Company in Chandler Arizona is among one of the largest brewers of canned craft beer here in the Phoenix area. I am pleased to say, San Tan beers are great craft brews! Devil’s Ale, San Tan’s flagship beer is Arizona’s highest rated pale ale with Draft Magazine giving it 96 points, and Beer Advocate a solid 86.  It has a nice dark maroon color and a citrusy aroma. The mouth feel is slightly hoppy with caramel and citrus notes. With an ABV of 5.5% and IBU’s coming in at 45, this is a delightful session brew.

indexI recently drank two others and was impressed by how incredibly awesome they were out of a can. The first was Mr. Pineapple, also from San Tan.  This is a Pineapple Wheat Ale brewed with natural pineapple juice. The color is a yellowish gold, the complexity of the taste summed up by this: It tasted like a pineapple upside-down cake!! I’m thinking the German Wheat yeast has to play a big part in that. The pineapple works really well with this beer in that it’s not too sweet.   5% ABV and 15 IBU’s, this is a perfect summertime beer to drink on the beach, golf course, backyard… and again, no broken glass. If you can get your hands on this wheat, interesting enough to take a Silver at the GABF, do it right now.  It’s a seasonal so when it’s gone, you’ll have to wait until next spring. I’m stocking up!

indexThe last of the canned beers I recently tried was San Tan’s Hop Shock I.P.A.  This is a very drinkable American West Coast I.P.A. with an IBU coming in at 85 and a 7.1% ABV.  I got a piney, citrusy flavor, which consistently came through the bitterness, making this ale very satisfying.  It has a beautiful copper color, nice constant lacing, and an ongoing full head.  The 7.1% ABV does catch up so enjoy it with your favorite spicy foods.

There have been approximately half a dozen craft breweries who’s brews I’ve sampled in aluminum cans and I have to say, I can’t tell the difference between cans or bottles. If you’re hesitant, don’t be. I highly endorse craft beer in cans for all the reasons listed above. And the reality here is that this is the next wave, so if you’re going to want to taste our finest brewers’ creations, you’re going to have to learn to pop a top. You won’t be disappointed.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Carol, the beer doctor June 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I agree wholeheartedly! I have been waiting years — literally — for craft beer in cans. Two years ago (August 31, 2011, The Beer Clinic) I wrote an article on selecting beer for a summer party. Our beach town does not allow glass bottles on the beach, and we had to walk pitchers of beer from the deck to the lake. We almost died of thirst! This year, we CAN’t go wrong with craft beer in cans.

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