Last Friday was payday, and I was expecting rain. Needless to say, I hustled to Consumers immediately after leaving work, only to see that Long Trail was doing a tasting at the very Consumers I had stopped at.
While Long Trail is by no means my favorite brewery, and they weren’t sampling anything new, I opted for a quick sample of Pale Ale and chat with the rep. I immediately noticed they now had cans of their flagship Ale and Blackberry Wheat brew. Sensing potential for some weekend road sodas, I opted for a 12-pack of the Ale at a cooool $12.99, which is the cheapest craft beer I’ve seen since Aldi stopped slanging Saranac mix packs in like 2006.
I’ve had the beer before, and you probably have too. If not, it’s a fairly standard German-ish ale with a pronounced malt character and some mildly floral hops. It’s probably my favorite Long Trail beer behind their Double Bag, which is basically a stronger version of the same shit. But I’m really not here to talk about this beer. My point is to discuss how more and more craft beers are available in cans the past few years.
Up until about two summers ago, the only craft beer available in cans (at least around these parts) was from Oskar Blues (Dale’s Pale Ale, etc), Butternuts (Pork Slap, etc) & Sly Fox (Royal Weisse, etc), three breweries that were consequently regulars in my golf bag. Ever drink Old Chub in the summer sun? It’s brutal, but what are ya gonna do. Sly Fox, incidentally, puts out one of the best Oktoberfests around – and the only one I’ve seen in cans.
In the past couple years, though, I’ve seen tons of brewers putting out shit in cans. Brooklyn Brewery, Long Trail, Dundee, Sierra Nevada, Sixpoint, Anderson Valley (this may have been around for a while now), New Belgium (which should start distributing in this area), and even Blue Moon are among the slew of breweries with (relatively) newly-canned offerings. I also saw that Vinny Chase from Entourage was starting a brewery with quirky old-school cans, Churchkey Can Co. There’s even been a Canned Craft Beer Fest in Arizona the past two years, which boasted over 150 different canned beers in 2012.
It seems like some folks frown on cans. I can only attribute this to most beers you drink in cans being half-assed Can-Am macros like PBR (not to hate) and Bud Light, drank out of a cooler full of dirty, canny water.
Really, the can is as suitable as anything to house your beer, assuming the beer won’t be aged (which most beers should not be). Cans prevent the passage of light, which even brown glass can’t truly keep out. Light and fermented drinks are not friends, so this is good news for your beer. Modern beer cans have a lining that prevents the metal from even coming in contact with your beer, let alone impacting flavor. Of course, you might taste a bit if you drink straight from the can, but you’ll get more impact from missing the aroma you’d get from a pour than from the metal.
There are numerous other benefits to the can over glass bottles. Cans require less energy to produce, ship, and recycle — which should help assuage your white guilt — and also helps save the brewery (and ultimately the consumer) production, shipping and energy costs. Cans are also more durable and lightweight than glass, allowing maximum portability during open container season. Perhaps most importantly, a can of beer is thinner than a bottle, and the beer inside it will chill to optimal temperature faster than a bottled option.
If it’s not obvious, I am feeling this trend! (can you call it a trend if it’s been going on for years? whatever.) Any that I missed? What’s your favorite canned beer?