Crushing the Can Myths

For years, glass bottles were the packaging choice for craft brewers. But recently, a growing number of canned beer has appeared on the shelves at your local beer store. Canning seems to have become a hot trend in the craft beer market, with more and more brands adding this alternative packaging to their lineup. So what’s with the cans? Isn’t glass better?  Let me debunk a couple common myths about canned beer.

Only cheap beer comes in cans.

Not anymore. Craft breweries all over the country are embracing cans. In fact, from a list of the country’s top 50 craft breweries*, nearly half are canning in some capacity. Even Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams, has changed his mind; he had previously sworn never to put their beer in cans. “The debate over bottles vs. cans has been a sticking point for brewers in the craft beer community for years,” Koch said in a recent interview with Forbes. “In the past, I had my doubts about putting Sam Adams in a can because I wasn’t convinced that Boston Lager would taste as good as it does from a bottle. But cans have changed. And I believe we’ve designed a can that provides a slight but noticeably better drinking experience than the standard beer can.”

Cans make beer taste bad. You can taste the metal.

No way! In fact, properly sealed cans may actually protect your beer better than glass. Two of beer’s biggest enemies are light and oxygen. Cans keep out both, preventing off-flavors like wet cardboard and oxidation, or “skunky” beer. Modern beer cans are also lined with a high-tech polymer to prevent any flavor transfer from the aluminum. Think of it as a mini keg. Some manufacturers even use different liners for different beers based on their pH value.

In addition to being beer-friendly, many agree that cans are also more environmentally-friendly than glass. Recycling rates for aluminum are much higher than glass, with about 45% of cans being recycled compared to just 25% of bottles. They also weigh less. Cans weigh just under an ounce, compared to an empty bottle at close to 6 ounces. This reduces greenhouse-gas emissions; heavier items require more fuel to transport. And they stack neatly, requiring less space during shipping and storage. Empty, they can be crushed to reduce their size even more!

Now that you have the inside scoop on craft cans, grab a cooler and stock up! Summer is a great time for enjoying canned beer. Glass, with its tendency to break, is prohibited in many public spaces for safety reasons. Cans, on the other hand, are often welcome at pools, parks, and golf courses. Their thin metal walls allow your beer to cool down quicker, which lets you enjoy a cold one that much sooner! So keep an eye out for special events during Rochester Real Beer Week featuring craft cans, including Brooklyn Cans & Clams, Tuesday, June 18th at Tap & Table and “Can Jam” on Thursday, June 20th in Star Alley Park on South Ave., sponsored by Lux Lounge, John’s Tex-Mex, and Nathaniel Square Corner Store.

*top 50 US craft breweries based on 2012 sales volume.

Amy Penrose is The Craft Beer Girl. Follow her as she discovers the world of craft beer through brewery tours, beer festivals, homebrewing, and more!