Crushing the Myths: Craft Cans

craft beer cansFor years, glass bottles were the package of choice for craft brewers. But recently, you may have noticed a growing number of canned beer 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 the alternative packaging to their lineup. So what’s with the cans? Read on as we debunk some common myths about canned beer.

Only cheap beer comes in cans.

No longer a sign of “cheap beer”, craft breweries all over the country are embracing cans. In fact, from a list of the countries top 50 craft breweries*, nearly half are canning in some capacity. Even Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams, who had previously sworn never to put their beer in cans, has changed his mind. “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 beers biggest enemies are light and oxygen. Cans create a seal that 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: Just under an ounce, while an empty bottle is close to 6 ounces, which reduces greenhouse-gas emissions, since heavier items require more fuel to transport. And they stack neatly, requiring less space during shipping and storage, and once they’ve been emptied, they can be crushed to reduce their size even more!

Now that you’ve got the inside scoop on craft cans, grab a cooler and stock up! Summer is a great time for enjoying canned beer. Glass, with it’s 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. And 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 featuring craft cans during Rochester Real Beer Week, 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.

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Categories: The Spirit of Craft Beer

Author:Amy Ellsworth

Amy Ellsworth is The Craft Beer Girl. Follow her as she discovers the world of craft beer through brewery tours, beer festivals, reviews and homebrewing. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and .

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15 Comments on “Crushing the Myths: Craft Cans”

  1. John Cressy
    February 14, 2014 at 7:49 PM #

    My uncle used to say if you break a bottle on the beach, your children, grand children, and great grand children have a good chance of stepping on it. Never gonna happen with a can. How many discarded (read litter) cans VS bottles start fires from sunlight? Cans have been the future for over 75 years. Get used to it. No one should be drinking out of a bottle or can. Pour (dump) it into a glass, release the CO2 and enjoy! Cheers.

  2. December 3, 2013 at 2:58 PM #

    Couldn’t agree more! http://wp.me/p2tTkJ-vN I’m pretty evangelical about cans. Cheers!

  3. June 25, 2013 at 10:35 AM #

    I have to admit, for many years I had a very hard time coming around to see the many benefits of canned craft beer. I was firmly – and wrongly – committed to the mistaken belief that canned beer = mass produced swill. Thankfully I’ve come entirely around to the extent of occasionally targeting canned options. It’s hard to ignore the growing list of top notch brewers that are now distributing canned brews (Ballast Point, Avery & Sierra Nevada to name a few, not to mention the can only guys like Oskar Blues, 21st Amendment & Sixpoint.

    About the only downside for me is the reduced rate of expansion I’m seeing in my completely useless collection of bottle caps.

    Cheers!

  4. June 19, 2013 at 12:59 PM #

    Most European breweries actually are required to take back their bottles to be cleaned and reused directly. That’s why European bottles are heavier and thicker. Also, that’s why most Belgians use the same bottle as brewing giant Duvel. It’s easier for them to just use whatever bottle comes back that way. Also, that’s why Germans all use a very similar 500ml.

    On the environmental side, yes cans get recycled at a higher rate than bottles. The big trade off, and why many craft breweries won’t use cans, comes on the mining side. Bauxite (the mineral used to make aluminum) mining is horrible for the environment and often takes place in under-developed regions of the world where environmental practices are minimal at best and employees are exploited. Glass is just sand.

    While I have nothing against cans, I also don’t think they’re the panacea many people make them out to be.

  5. June 17, 2013 at 9:40 PM #

    There’s some pretty amazing breweries out there putting there top notch beer in cans. If they’re starting to relax on the issue maybe consumers should as well. I certainly enjoy the ease and convenience of cans although I will admit I pour the beer into a glass when I can.

  6. Randy
    June 17, 2013 at 5:48 PM #

    mitch,
    Re-using bottles? What microbrewery does this? glass is recycled in basically the same way as aluminum…It is crushed down and then melted, similarly, aluminum is melted down (while retaining nearly all of the original properties). I have no idea what the difference in energy consumption is, but that’s for you to look up since you’re convinced it is less…

    Is it ultimately more cost-effective for them to use aluminum cans? probably, but perhaps not at the expense of the idea that you’re attempting to convey.

    • June 17, 2013 at 4:19 PM #

      Scott,

      Indeed the lining of cans contain BPA, which is a concern for some people. However, to add some perspective… If a person is buying canned spaghetti sauce, it doesn’t follow that they would avoid canned beer simply because of BPA in the lining.

      Also, both links you provided talk about the risks in relation to children. Much of what I’ve read about BPA (which, I admit, is not much) pertains to unborn babies, infants & children. Are the risks as high for adults?

  7. mitch
    June 17, 2013 at 4:03 PM #

    The reason for some micro breweries favoring can over glass is strictly cost. Before you buy a can consider this before indulging. Yes, this beer is going to be tasty; however, unlike a bottle which you can get repeated uses out of a can you can’t. It’s recycled, meltdown and used again in some other process. That process emits greenhouses gases does it not?! So, I respectfully disagree with the figures that Metal has less environmental impact than glass.

    • June 17, 2013 at 4:08 PM #

      Mitch, are there breweries out there that are reusing bottles? I know people use them for homebrewing, but I would think the majority of bottles are disposed of, and end up either in a landfill, or at a glass recycling plant, where they are crushed and recycled.

  8. gabe
    June 17, 2013 at 3:20 PM #

    Beer bottles are dangerous! People get drunk and hit you over the head with them haha

  9. June 17, 2013 at 1:14 PM #

    I totally love the portability and easy of storage when it comes to canned beer. Glass bottles are pretty and all, but they are tough to store in the fridge, especially when each brewery uses a different sized bottle. I say embrace the cans! Ummm. That doesn’t sound quite right. 😉

  10. June 17, 2013 at 10:21 AM #

    Hmmmmmm….I see what you’re saying, but I think I’m a bottle snob.

    • June 17, 2013 at 10:32 AM #

      Haha, don’t discriminate, Nicole! It’s what’s on the INSIDE that counts!! lol 😉

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Recapping Real Beer Week | In Between Meals - June 29, 2013

    […] had a blast at Cans & Clams at Acme Bar & Pizza. Check out theCraftBeerGirl’s post on Craft Cans to see why cans are sure to be the new trend in craft beer. Other great events were at […]

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