Five years ago if you'd asked me if I drank canned beer I would have looked at you like you were crazy. At that time good beer in cans was about as easy to find as the secret to cold fusion but all that has changed. Today we have more and more craft brewers turning to cans to get their tasty brews in the hands of thirsty world and we should all be embracing them.
Canned beer makde its debut in 1935. In partnership with the American Can Company, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of Krueger's Finest Beer and Krueger's Cream Ale to faithful Krueger drinkers in Richmond, Virginia. Ninety-one percent of the drinkers approved of the canned beer, driving Krueger to give the green light to further production. That was the beginning of a new era for beer drinkers as this was the first time beer was truly portable.
Since that day in 1935 canned beer has come a long way. From modest beginnings of a can that needed a church key type opener to a screw top can that was also used to package oil to the pop top to specially lined cans and finally to cans that turn colors when they're cold enough to drink. Some of these developments have been nothing but gimmicks but there are reasons why canned beer has survived all this time even though beer drinkers when asked always say they prefer a bottle.
There are obvious commercial and industrial reasons such as cost, durability etc but there is one big reason cans are superior to glass, freshness. Beer unlike wine is always best when its fresh and the enemy of fresh beer is UV light. Beer bottles come in lots of colors but the reason most are brown is to try and block out as much light as possible. Cans being made of aluminum shield beer from all light making the can the best vessle for maintaining freshness of your chosen beverage.
The other big culprit to skunky beer is air. Not to long ago I pulled out a Belgian Sour that I'd been saving for a specialy occassion only to discover that the cap didn't have a airtight seal so sadly my beer was toast. Since bottles are made of glass and the closures are either aluminum or cork the seals can be imperfect and that leads to skunky and or flat beer from time to time. Cans on the otherhand have closures that are built into the vessel so they seal up tight every time.
Of course cans can't handle every beer that's made, Belgians in particular are a challenge. Many Belgian beers are bottle conditioned and the pressure of the additional fermentation makes cans unsuitable for beers with higher pressure packaging. That's not to say there aren't some great beers out there in cans that you can get your hands on right now. Some of the brewers that have started packaging in cans include New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Kettlehouse, Caldera, and Anderson Valley. That's not a complete list since I'd bet there's one or two more that I haven't even run across yet. So get out there and track down a couple canned beers of your own and enjoy.
I love it in the Can by Rick Boyd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at brewforia.com.