A 6-pack of bottles in a stylish case has been a signature of craft beer for some time now. But with craft beer’s ever growing success many craft brewers are looking to expand their lines to try new things. Beer in a can is currently being explored by many craft breweries including one of the largest, Sierra Nevada.
Until 2002 all US craft breweries sold their brews exclusively in bottles. But even after Oskar Blue of Colorado began to sell the first craft canned beers, very few craft breweries where quick to follow. The most likely reason being the stigma of beer in cans being low-class or cheap while bottled beer received all the prestige. Bottles seemed like the obvious choice to represent the quality of craft brewing.
However, in the last few years more and more craft breweries have begun to embrace the can. James Gordon of Cask Brewing System, a company who sets up can production systems, said that sales to US craft brewers increased by 700% last year. It appears that many are looking beyond the aesthetics and more to the benefits of canned beer.
Cans have many natural benefits for preserving, shipping, and storing beer. For starters, a can is completely opaque and will keep outside light from spoiling or altering the beer (this is why most bottles, use very dark glass). Secondly, the can is sealed much better than a bottle keeping the carbonation fresh and keeping oxygen from spoiling the beer. Thirdly, cans are more durable and suitable for travel both in respects to shipping and to leisurely on-the-go drinking (easy packing, no breaking). Lastly, and most importantly is that cans are in fact cheaper to produce and better for recycling (cans have more recyclable content, though glass returns a higher cash value).
Although, cans are not without their downsides either. Bottles are better insulators of heat and can keep beers colder, longer. Some also believe that cans produce a metallic taste and that the aluminum of the can actually effects the beer. Though this used to be true, before the 80′s, new material used in cans today prevents the aluminum from altering the beer. Pouring the beer into a new container (cup or glass) will remove any hint of aluminum.
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