Nathan Berrong works at CNN's satellite desk and this is the sixth installment of his beer column. He Tweets at @nathanberrong and logs beers at Untappd. Drink up.
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.
Here’s a relatively unknown fact: Beer was the first beverage ever put into a can. In the 1930s, shortly after Prohibition ended, breweries began to put their beer in metal cans instead of bottles. This was purely a business decision as cans provided the brewery a better way to promote themselves by using all sides of the container for text and logos. The lighter weight of the metal cans could also be stacked for easier shipping.
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.
A great opinion piece. I encourage beer enthusiasts to do a side-by-side comparison as I have. Check out my findings...
James Page (Minneapolis) had beer in cans in the late 90s. Good beer – bad business model.
Mickeys wide mouth beer is da best and I gotz all dat goooooollllld!
Beer is like religion ~ everyone has their favorite then tries to push it onto others... And beer is BETTER than religion (:
and there's nothing like Delirium Tremens....a personal favorite
Delirium Nocturnum. Love it.
I wish all you IPA people would shut up already. I hate IPA's. So many other great styles of beers. Forget IPAs
What I love most about craft beer is that there are so many styles from an overwhelming amount of breweries to please any palate - otherwise we'd all be drinking American light lagers, and not the good ones!
Anybody worried about the BPA used to line the can?
I could be wrong, but I don't think any company is using Bis-A epoxy to line their cans. I mean based on the knowledge we now have.
ALL can manufacturers line their cans with BPA.
Microbrews are crap. I swear, people buy them based on their outlandish names. They all taste the same....like homebrews....YUCK. I'll take a good domestic lager from the big names any day over this garbage.
One word – FLAVOR
Proof positive that you don't need to know what you're talking about or have good taste to have an opinion. What David S. meant to say was, "Me no like it. What me no like are no good. RAAAAARH."
Another ignorant redneck sounds off. I'll bet you haven't ever tried an IPA or Pale Ale. This is what multi-million dollar advertizing budgets do, brainwash the ignorant into thinking they are drinking the best beer. What the macro-breweries are putting out isn't even beer, at best it's a malt beverage and should be stated as so. You want an American lager? You won't get that from a Macro-brewery. Try a craft brewed lager next to a macro "lager" you'll be surprised at the difference.
I guess everyone's welcome to their opinion. I'm not going to knock him for his love of Budweiser or whatever else he enjoys. I think we are living in a fantastic time. We have access to beers from all over the world let alone some of the best brewers in our own country. If you are lucky enough to be able to experience and enjoy the variety that's available then you are truly blessed. Don't ya' think?
Hey the less he drinks of micro's the more for us right? :D
Grab your shotgun, your bud-light lime, the cousin you married, and go camp in your back yard.
At least when you drink piss-water, it leaves more good beer for the rest of us :)
Bottles are way better than any can. After a while cans damage the taste of a good beer, bottles always keep the beer fresher. Don't get me wrong, I love some brand of beers out of a can, but most are just better out of a glass bottle. What about kegs? Im not saying all kegs are good (bud products, miller products, ewww) but what about a pint of Stella out of a keg, or my person favorite Guiness. Guiness out of a can doesn't give you the full flavor of the brew, but out of a keg, it is amazing.
And dude, come on, broaden your horizon. Domestic beers are ok but lets be serious, domestics cannot compare with full flavor craft brews. You obviously dont drink beer for QUALITY your more into drinking to get DRUNK like a highschool student.
I really like the Kona Brewing Company's Longboard Lager. It tastes the same, bottle or can, but the cans can go with me out to the pool, AND they have the new wildlife-safe 6pack tie that won't choke the seabirds! Its a WIN-WIN!!!
I love the Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle. It's become a staple at the pool during the hot Texas summer.
Fire Eagle is definitely my favorite of the ABW line-up, but the Pearl-Snap Pils as well as Real Ale's Hans Pils are my "go-to" summer beers this year. Also enjoy the Maui Brewing La Perouse White.
Elevated IPA is the best IPA, ever. Lucky to have the brewer right here in town (Albuquerque). The judges at GABF 2011 agreed (http://www.lacumbrebrewing.com/ourbrews.html). I routinely get Ska's Modus Hoperandi; one of my favorites, and it's in a can.
Dude, just FYI, but IPAs are SOOOO last year.... You can cover up a real crappy beer with a lot of Hops. LAGERS are the next big thing!!
A beer drinker from Seattle
Looking for some good lagers. Give me some ideas.
mmmmmmm, hops. Ahhh, so you're a "trendy" beer drinker. The Paris Hilton of beer drinkers...
Who cares any container is fine, it still gets you drunk! Go Packers!
You got that right. Plastic, glass or paper cup, can, bottle, canteen, tupperware container, he ll we used "bowls" in college at one point. So long as the beer is freezing cold. Go Patriots!
Peter Griffin is that you!
Interesting how people swear that bottles are best for beer but most prefer a draft to a bottle. PSSST...Do you know what kegs are made of? The same thing that cans are made of and you never hear someone complain about the metallic taste that a keg gives off. And what kind of containers are most craft beers made in...metal vats. Hmmm...maybe metal is good for beer since beer is made inmetal containers, stored in metal kegs and are portable in metal cans. And pouring a beer into a glass whether from can or keg is the only cicilized way to go.
Why does there seem to be an assumption in the comments that if you drink canned beer you are drinking it directly from the can yet with bottles you naturally put it in a glass? I always pour mine in a glass and apparently so does Mr. O'Sullivan. I wonder if a canned beer was poured in a glass out of sight if those that say they taste the metal still will. I know when anyone mentions banana as I taste a Hefe it ruins it for me. The power of suggestion is mighty.
Y'all will miss many great beers by rejecting cans outright and that's a shame.
Austin Beerworks is one of the best breweries to come into the market in the last few years. In the hot Texas summer, nothing beats a Peacemaker Extra Pale Ale in a cold can. No wonder it won a GABF award. Dang, now I am thirsty...
I always thought Fat Tire tasted better in a can than in the bottle. But I'd rather go down to the brewery, have some draft, then bring home a growler than anything else.
Also, thanks for the Oskar Blues shout out! Not the biggest fan of their beers, but I love to see a local business doing so well.
I find that Fat Tire smels like a wet band-aid.
This article hit the nail on the head. Anderson Valley Summer Solstice is one of the best beers I have had in my life, several years of which I lived in England – so that is saying something.
LOL no wonder you like American beer, you lived in England! English beer is TERRIBLE! The best beers come from Bavaria, such as Hofbrau and Augustiner. After that, Canadian beer is 2nd! American beer is terrible
Even Canadian beer has turned to garbage, unless its a micro. Check 'em out.
German beers are LAGERS & Pilsners...... not over hoppy crap beer...
Germany knows how to brew REAL beer....
Pardon the interruption, but as a Canadian beer drinker, I can confidently say that our beer is NOT garbage. Give me a break. WE, yes WE brew some of the best beer in the world, bar none. Keep in mind there are lots of German immigrants here who brought their beer crafting savvy with them.. http://www.ontariocraftbrewers.com/
I can't stand beer in a can. I will say that one of the best beers I've had (aside from all I drank in Germany) is Fat Squirrel from New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin. Too bad they only sell it in Wisconsin.
Interesting that you won't consider cans...have you ever thought what a key is made of? Same metal that a can is made of. Maybe cans are the best way to store beer...whether a keg or a can.
And you don't driink a draft beer from the tap...you pour it into a glass. Same for a craft beer can...you pour it into a glass.
For anyone who will only drink beer in bottles hasn't had Surly yet!
STOP Obama's war against Medical Marijuana Patients – Support UFCW Local 770
Is there some reason why you think we are interested in you?????
The price of canning machinery has dropped over the years. It use to be only the macro breweries that could afford it. This is why you are seeing more and more micros using it now.
They don't actually make the cans themselves. They purchase cans from the same companies that make cans for Coors, Coke, Pepsi etc.
Oregon residents should try Caldera beer – comes in cans, and has an amazing IPA and a pretty good amber as well.
Most Oregonians dont like IPAs.
They like Ales, Porters, Stouts and LAgers....
Just wondering... Did you do some sort of statewide research study? Did the entire state of Oregon elect you spokesperson for any beer-drinking questions that might arise from the non-Oregon world? Or, are you just making one heck of a hugely, uneducated, general statement?
That's news to this Oregonian.
The problem isn't the storage of beer in a can but for most high quality micro-brews, especially the Belgian Style, you need to drink it from a glass to get the full taste. It has a different taste if you drink it straight from either the bottle or can. I guess you could use plastic cups but you still need to pour it out of the can or bottle to get the full & best taste.
"HMMMM, BEERS IN CANS!? I ALREADY KNOW WHAT I'M GOING TO SAY, PROCEED TO POST WITHOPUT READING ARTICLE". Apparently ALL beer drinkers are idiots...
Canned beer is synonymous with crap beer. That will never change.
The can is just the delivery container. It is your choice of beer and the serving temperature that makes the difference. Don't ice down micro beers. They need to be served at 55 to 60 degrees for the best flavor.
Uh, Guiness in a CAN, tastes BETTER then in the bottle.
A LOT you know...
That mentality is the same attitude that people have about Screw Top wine. Its a proven fact that screw tops for wine keep the wine fresher. That is also the reason more and more winery's are moving to screw top as opposed to cork. As soon as someone follows an "Absolute Attitude" you close your mind down to other possibilities. It also a reason why people will miss out on some amazing Wine with screw tops and some amazing Beer in cans. Your loss.
I really don't like canned beer. Except Guinness, strange as that seems it's better in the can. I'm sure it's all psychological but as a dark beer drinker I could not see myself drinking New Castle, Guinness extra stout, murphys or beamish out of a can.
I graduated from bottles to cans when I met my wife, who, as a bartender, knows best. Bottles now seem like a pain.
3 more hours and I'll be behind an Anchor Steam.
My beer usually winds up in a solo cup and on my shirt anyway.
hard to shotgun a bottled beer!
There is no difference in taste between a can and a bottle, funny how those who say they can taste it will say they only drink beer from bottles or on tap, um kegs are giant cans. Also the fact is NOTHING colder than a can of beer in a cooler full of ice. Gubna IPA is by far one of the best beers on the market.
The beer keeps better in cans too. They do not let any light in. Micros were using bottles because they machinery was cheaper.
If you are drinking micro-beers ice cold, you are not getting the real flavor. Let 'em warm up to about 60 degrees and you'll love the taste. If you want ice cold beer, stay with Bud, Coors, or Miller. Anything above about 40 degrees and they taste like crap.
I'm a big fan of the Maui Brewing Company beer that they sell in cans. They actually only sell it in cans. My favorite is the Mana Wheat, but they are all good. If you are lucky enough to make it to Maui, I'd suggest stopping at their brewery and their brew pub. The brew pub has awesome food and lots of different beers that don't make it here to the mainland.
and the best IPA I've ever head is only in cans – The Alchemist's Heady Topper, Waterbury, VT
Vermont beer is the best beer. Except long trail. $%^& long trail.
BS!!! The ONLY IPAs worth a crap are Pliney the Elder/Younger and Wisdom Seeker....
Clearly you have not had Hill Farmstead's Ephraim, Double Citra, Double Galaxy, or Abner; Lawson's Finest Liquids Double Sunshine; and clearly you have never had Heady Topper (the only one in a can). Vermont rules in the way of IPA/IIPA. In your defense, east and west coast IIPAs are, to me, totally different. I prefer VT IPA/IIPAs
Can recommendation – Stowaway IPA – Baxter Brewery Lewiston, ME
What I'm not seeing in the article is the most important test ... comparing the SAME beer from bottle, can, and draft. You simply cannot say "canned is as good as bottled" unless you've compared the exact same beer from each container.
The last canned beer I tasted was Coors Light. Don't grief me, I like CL. I like other more flavorful beers as well, but CL is my favorite refreshment. And as of, say, 6 months ago, I could taste the can in canned CL, and the beer did not taste as clean or crisp tasting as CL in a bottle - I could not separate the 'canned' taste from the beer.
One of the things also NOT addressed in the article ... do you drink direclty from the retail container or pour it out into a cup/glass? The only time I put beer in a glass is if it's draft or I'm in a restaurant that doesn't serve my choice of beer on draft. If you drink directly from the bottle, you taste beer. If you drink directly from a can, you're gonna taste the can. While the >interior< of the can may be lined, the lid / top ain't in most cases.
Coors Light is absolute CRAP, and tastes like it too. It baffles me whenever I see someone walk out of the beer store with a case. They've succumbed to marketing, that's all.. I don't know if they think bikini-clad models are going to jump out of the case when they get home or what, but the beer is the most awful tasting wretched poo ever.
I have been drinking beer for about 40 years and I guess the "cans give beer a bad taste" thing is an old paradigm that just won't die. I prefer decent beer in bottles, but usually, when bottles are not allowed, the only beer available are the "Mega Brewery" brews, so I suck it up and try to enjoy. (I cannot dring Bud whether it is in a bottle or a crystal goblet) I will have to try some of the craft brewed canned beers, never too late to try a new thing.
'Cans are actually better now than years ago. Try one and you'll see.' No.
I tried each an evry one of them beer an I gotta sa y opening them cans is too much dang work but they all good
.products of american inganuity inginuity ingenuity
Best beer in a can: Guinness. It's also the best beer out of a bottle or the tap.
I always liked Sterling's wide-mouth bottles. Decent beer, too. And yeah, you can still taste the can no matter what they line it with. Glass bottles, please.
Nope, you can't, period.
Wash the top of your cans.....
why. you wash them.
I loved Sterling's big mouth bottle with the pull-tab cap.
Santa Fe Brewing Co. – Happy Camper IPA, Imperial Java Stout adn Irish Red Ale
Marble Brewing Company – IPA
La Cumbre Brewing – Elevated IPA
Not true anymore Sharon. Cans are actually better now than years ago. Try one and you'll see.
You're all missing the real problem. I don't want to put my mouth on metal when I'm drinking. Or cut my lip on the metal edge. It's just not the same feel, let alone the fact that the cans are lined with BPA. See this is why we still have toxins in our world, consumers (US) don't make a big enough deal about getting them out, so we continue to pretend they won't hurt us and we'll be fine when in fact cancer rates are still sky-rocketing and people are clueless about why.
I never associated cheap/bad beer with cans. I always avoided canned beer because the can affects the taste. I want to taste the beer or the soda, not the can. Bottles are the way to go when possible.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 8,152 other followers