Sunday, June 16, 2013

Yes, We Can

The official start of summer is quickly approaching, which means it's about time to start thinking about summer beer choices. I'm not talking about choosing between a Hefeweizen or a Saison. This summer will be less about the style of beer and more about the container. The biggest decision that needs to be made is the choice between the many cans of craft beer that are out there today.
Now, I know there are those that scoff at the idea of drinking craft brews from a can. It may be because they feel the taste is diminished or altered in some way, or it may just be that the can reminds them too much of the cheap beers that are common at college parties. What some people who are glass purists have failed to notice is that canning has come a long way. Contrary to popular belief, there are actually craft beers that taste better from a can!
Canned beer has been around for a long time, and canned craft beer has been around for over a decade. Oskar Blues was the first craft brewery in America to can the beer that they brewed back in 2002. Since then the concept of putting craft beer into a can has spread across the country, resulting in over 150 craft breweries making their brews available in cans. In fact, the beer that is consistently one of the most highly rated in the world, also known as Heady Topper, was put into a can back in 2011 that prominently instructs those who buy it to "drink from the can!"

Heady Topper is contained in what some would call a "tallboy" can, or a can that holds a pint (16 ounces) of beer. Sixpoint has similar cans with the words "beer is culture" on them. Yet, because of the somewhat recent success of craft beer cans, many different styles of cans have been developed. For instance, Sly Fox's craft cannery has put its beers into cans with lids that can be completely removed to enhance the aroma along with the taste.

The taste is what makes many craft beer drinkers nervous about trying craft beer in a can. Rumors of metallic tastes, inadequate openings, and little to no aromas are widespread. Yet, craft brewers have paid attention to these concerns, and have worked very hard to eliminate them. That's one of the reasons Heady Topper (affectionately called "Heady") actually tastes better from the can. The brewing and canning processes became intertwined, resulting in an amazing beer that is supposed to be kept in the can!

Being in Boston, I couldn't help but notice just how popular craft beer cans have become. You can find offerings from Cisco, Harpoon, and Samuel Adams in cans all over the shelves. Of particular interest to me was what has been dubbed the "Sam Can." Jim Koch invested a great deal of money and time into creating a can that preserved the taste of the beer Samuel Adams makes while also increasing the drinking experience for fans of their brews.
The unique design of the can, from its shape to its opening, maintains the wonderful balance that Sam Adams' Boston Lager is known for. The wider mouth on the can allows you to take in the aroma while the curve of the lip offers a much fuller taste as the beer enters your mouth. The similarity in the taste of Boston Lager from a bottle and from a can is truly uncanny (pun intended). I have a feeling I'll be picking up plenty more of these cans throughout the summer.

Why buy cans when you could just pick up some bottles? The main reason, especially for the summer, is portability. You can take cans to places that you wouldn't want to bring bottles. Cans are perfect for taking a trip to the beach, going to a baseball game, or just having a picnic. The point is taking your favorite beer outdoors and anywhere else you'd like to go.

In the end, having the option to buy craft beer in a can is a great thing. I'll continue to buy bottles and pour my preferred styles of beer into their appropriate glasses while pairing them with a nice meal. Still, I also want something convenient and easy to carry around on trips this summer. That's where the craft beer cans are really going to come in handy.

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