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Sep 28, 2009 05:58 PM

Yes We Can

I've noticed that some craft breweries are now putting their beer in cans because it seems to travel better than bottles and might be easier to dispose of and perhaps better for the environment. Still, there seems to be a stigma attached to can beer compared with bottles. Have you tried good beer in a can? Is there a difference? Do you think cans will ever catch on in a big way among craft brewers? Is can phobia real or irrational?

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  1. Surly Brewing in Minneapolis sells their beer in four packs of pint cans. From what I've heard they do occasionally do bottles for limited releases, but I had a their Furious in a can and it was one of the best beers I've ever had. I wouldn't drink it from the can, but I didn't mind it coming in one.

    While I haven't tried any of their beers yet, I've heard that Oskar Blues puts out some very good beers, and they use cans as well.

    18 Replies
    1. re: writergeek313

      While i cant say that there has always been a glass around into which to pour my delicious canned surlys, that is most certainly the idea, if the statement "beer from a can, for a glass" on the side didnt tip you off.

      drinking from cans is definitely a second-rate experience, but unless youre out at an event its a problem that is decidedly easy to solve. the can doesn't ruin the beer, it ruins drinking the beer. distributors are more likely to lead the push as they dont have to worry about bottles breaking in transport, if you ask me.

      1. re: tex.s.toast

        I pour my beer into a glass, can or bottle. Why does a can ruin drinking the beer? I've had lots of Oskar Blues and Sly Fox cans and I think they are very good. I don't think these are the same cans our dads used to drink their schlitz out of.

        1. re: Paulomet

          Don't forget Dales. Recently in Spain I had a most definite impression that store bought cans were fresher than bottles when drinking Voll Damm, Estrella, Mahou etc. Not always, but often enough...

          1. re: Flaco

            Certainly cans would seem to eliminate the problem of skunking that happens in bottles, but there seems to be a stigma attached to cans, at least by some people, that you simply can't get good beer in a can. I don't think that's true, but then again, you don't see breweries all of a sudden ditching their bottles en masse and replacing them with cans

            1. re: chuckl

              if more cans become available, and I'm sure this will be the case, people might get past the stigma as they get used to the idea. I don't think it's much of an issue except at nicer restaurants, say.

              In addition to the skunking issue, cans have less air, which means fresher beer. And I believe it's cheaper to can, which would encourage breweries to do it.

              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                As I understand it canning is cheaper than bottling. Moreover shipping is cheaper as well. However the change over costs are the prohibitive factor keeping breweries from switching from bottles to cans. Also consumers are creatures of habit. I'm sure some would be reluctant to drink their favorite bottled beer in a can. Having said that I buy pilsner in cans only. Been burnt too many times.


                1. re: Chinon00

                  What Pilsners are you getting in cans ?

                  1. re: Saddleoflamb

                    You didn't ask me, but I have seen Bitburger and Pilsner Urquell in cans, and of course Mama's Little Yellow Pils from Oskar Blues.

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                      I'm quite impressed with Oskar Blues in cans, they make awesome beers and I don't thing the cans detract from the quality whatsoever

                    2. re: Saddleoflamb

                      Sly Fox Pikeland is top notch bone dry German pils in cans as well.

                      1. re: Chinon00

                        As of yet have not seen the Urquel.....have tried the Mama's and had mixed feelings....and have heard great things about Sly Fox, but as of today can't get in NC......I enjoyed the Dales Pale Ale......the first beer in forever that so very much suprised me straight from a can...... I personally think that if Sierra al......put any of their beers in cans they would create a Tsunami of micro appreciation........

                        1. re: Saddleoflamb

                          I agree that there would be an apprciation for more fine beers in cam.

                          I wonder though how Sierra's flavor would be affected in canned form. Most of their beers are bottle conditioned...I wonder if that's even possible in a canned beer?

                          1. re: The Professor

                            Forgot about the bottle conditioning......and if similar results could be achieved in a can.....

                            1. re: Saddleoflamb

                              Southern Star in Texas cans their beers with yeast in the can. Not sure whether the process they use qualifies as can conditioning, however.

                              1. re: brentk

                                Wonder why else they would place yeast in the can, other than for further fermintation....krausening (is it)?
                                Was just drinking a Bell's two hearted and was thinking it would be amazing to taste something like it out of a can on a hot summer day.

                                1. re: Saddleoflamb

                                  I'm not sure if you're in their distribution area, but Ska Brewing's Modus Hoperandi comes in cans, and it's a very good IPA. Ironically, I just brought six-packs of that and Bell's Two Hearted back from a trip to Chicago, since I can't get either of them in upstate NY.

                                  1. re: writergeek313

                                    Haven't seen it yet in the bay area, but I'll look for it. Maybe with more craft beers available in cans, more breweries will expand their shipping radius. Wishful thinking, maybe.

              2. re: Flaco

                Dale's Pale Ale *is* an Oskar Blues brew - and it's probably my favorite APA to boot.

        2. At the beach, on a boat, and by the pool - times when I am very grateful for Oskar and SlyFox!

          1. Not sure about beer, but I do know that it is more economical for soda co to use cans/plastic than glass; plus many indoor and outdoor venues have outlawed glass.

            1. If the economics are favorable and the taste is comparable, then why aren't more craft beermakers canning their beer? I understand the conversion dilemma of re-tooling for cans, but I would think that over time, that would even out.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chuckl

                More craft brewers *are* canning, many more than even a year ago.

                1. re: chuckl

                  I think the "problem" with *current* bottling craft brewers switching to or adding canning is two-fold. First, the equipment and the cans are still an added initial investment cost that will take a long time to pay off through shipping savings. Some of the smaller systems are REALLY small (two cans at a time, manually). Cans have to be pre-purchased in much larger quantities than bottles (so, adding to the cost AND the need for extra space since they need to be warehoused) and they lack the "flexibility" of "blank" bottles that will be labeled, since cans come "pre-labeled" as it were.

                  The second reason, and it may be the the most important, is that the can still has negative connotations to much of the craft beer or "better beer" (a term that even Jim Koch has taken to using) market. While a large segment of the "beer geekery" is on board with canning, that is still a small percentage of the craft beer buying market in general. And, from what I've seen, retailers and distributors, too, aren't necessarily on the canned craft beer bandwagon.

                  When Pilsner Urquell first hit NJ in their 500ml cans, I asked a large discount liquor store manager (who sells a LOT of P/U judging from the how quick the pallet empties) if he was going to carry it. His reply: "Pilsner Urquell doesn't come in cans (which I took to mean either his distributor wasn't carry it or, at least, didn't try to sell it to him- since I'd already bought some in NJ) and even if it did, I wouldn't carry it."

                  Other retailers don't carry a large stock of canned craft beers (less cases ordered than for similar bottle brands, etc) and they often don't sell before the "best by" dates (including Oscar Blues and Sly Fox brands). Brooklyn Lager (a "local" beer), for instance, comes in can (via it's contract partner, F X Matt) but only one NJ distributor even carries the package, and the Brooklyn rep said that most of those cans go to on-premise venues that don't want glass bottles, rather than to the off-premise retailers.

                  A local NJ brewer who was considering adding canning equipment told me that NJ distributors reported that they weren't selling well and had him re-considering the move.

                  1. re: JessKidden

                    If you take a look back, I think you'll find that Jim Koch has been using the term 'better beer' for many years, and might even have coined the term, or at least been one of the first to use it frequently.

                2. I think the can stigma is ancient history. There was a time when you would get a tinny taste from cans but the gurus of canning solved that. Another benefits of cans is that they take up less refrigerator space.
                  The 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA in cans has become a staple in my fridge.

                  1 Reply