Summer is finally here. Skin is showing, windows are down and parks and swimming holes are crowded. It’s the time of year when I make every effort to be outside with friends sharing some beers, food and good times. Up until recently, it was hard to find good beers that were “outside approved," also known as beers in cans.
Because of safety reasons, most parks, beaches and pools have a no-bottle policy, which until recently had made enjoying a good quality beer outside next to impossible. That all changed roughly ten years ago when Oskar Blues came onto the scene with their canned beers and changed the perception that only bad beer was available in cans.
Seven years later, in 2009, there were 52 craft breweries serving their beer in cans. Today, The Brewer’s Association estimates there are more than 180 craft breweries that are canning, proving good beer is now available in cans and it’s here to stay.
The only downside also happened to be the most important thing when drinking a beer, the taste. Because the interior lining of the cans weren’t foolproof, the cans of the '30s and '40s tasted like metallic-flavored beer. Canned beer developed a bad reputation and by the time technology caught up and the interior lining was perfected, it was too late. People had already decided canned beer was inferior to bottled beer.
The macro-breweries, which brew with adjuncts like rice and corn (read: cheap ingredients that add off-flavors but produce alcohol) instead of the preferred and more expensive barley malt, continued to put their beer in cans. This only furthered the notion that cheap and awful tasting beer was served in cans. The truth is, cans made today now have a water-based epoxy lining that completely preserves the flavor and taste of the beverage.
Oskar Blues, a small microbrewery out of Lyons, Colorado, knew this and decided to take the risk, put their delicious beer in cans and attempt to change the mind of the discerning American beer drinker. It’s been ten years since Oskar Blues took that leap of faith and although the doubters still exist, the general consensus among beer drinkers is that canned beer tastes just as good as the bottled stuff.
The 21st Amendment Brewery (21A as it's commonly referred to in the beer world) is another great example of a brewery that’s also taken the leap, and recently even took home the top prize at the first ever Canny Awards.
"Some people refuse to drink beer out of cans and I always say to them 'Well, I don’t drink beer out of a bottle, I pour it into a glass," says 21st Amendment co-founder and brewmaster, Shaun O’Sullivan.
Canned beer is having a resurgence in the American market, and the reasons why are a no brainer: it’s more portable, it doesn’t break, you can drink it in places bottles are not allowed and it tastes just as good as bottled beer, maybe even "better," because the seal of the can better protects the beer from oxygen and it blocks out 100% of UV light damage.
Below, I’ve selected some of my favorite canned beers, and I’d love to know what you think. Cheers and happy drinking!
Canned Beer Recommendations:
21st Amendment "Bitter American"
Avery "Ellie’s Brown Ale"
Sixpoint "The Crisp"
Oskar Blues "Ten Fidy"
New Belgium "Fat Tire"
Anderson Valley "Summer Solstice"
Kona "Longboard Lager"
Ska Brewing "Modus Hoperandi"
Austin Beer Works "Black Thunder"
Surly "Surly Abrasive Ale"
Do you prefer your beer in a bottle or a can and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.