By Darren Scott
If you are a beer lover and have visited my store lately you may have been taken aback by the amount of product that is now packaged in cans. It has been a slow trend the past couple of years, but now it has officially exploded. The number of craft breweries filling cans with their beer has more than doubled in the past four years! Also, according to CraftCans.com, more than 520 of the nation’s nearly 3,700 craft breweries “can” at least one of their beers. That’s a staggering amount.
An honest question to this sudden trend is why? Cans have long been thought of as a substandard vessel to hold beer. They always had a metallic taste when you drank straight from the opening and (at least for me) they always brought back memories of youthful excess and budgetary constraints. In easier words, they held the cheap stuff! Bottles just seemed to be classier. They had labels that used colors besides blue and red, they clinked and clanked while you stocked the fridge, and they seemed to stay colder much longer than their canned brethren.
But that was a while ago and just like with anything else, technology has caught up and changed the game. Most aluminum cans these days are lined with a polymer coating that protects the beer from the metal, so you can say goodbye to that tinny taste mixing with those tasty hops. Also, one of the biggest flavor killers around is sunlight. Since canned beers see none of that from the day the top is fixed on, one of the skunky beer variables has quickly been taken away! Bottles can’t even come close to the protection rate that cans provide.
Beers labels on the cans have also had an impressive makeover. Many of the ones I stock at the store are vibrant in color and have fantastic designs all over them which make it easier to feel confident in your purchase if you are taking the beers to a party and whatnot.
Another answer to the question of why is the business logistics involved for the breweries themselves. There are such things as mobile canning companies that will come to the brewery and can the beer at the location and then leave once the job is done. This allows for the breweries to have more space for expansion. Also, cans are considerably lighter than bottles when filled and that blesses the breweries with cheaper shipping costs and longer margins.
Lastly, and definitely most important, is the fact that aluminum is easier to recycle than glass. Too much glass that has been intended for recycling by consumers ends up in landfills because it is too expensive to ship the empty bottles from one plant to another one that can handle the material.
So, next time you want to cram a bunch of beer into your cooler for a pool day or beach trip, select a canned beer for the occasion. You’ll be doing yourself and the environment a huge favor!
Darren Scott has been an Athens, Ga resident since 2002 and is the owner of Village Wine & Spirits on the eastside of town. He has 15 years of experience in the beverage industry but is always thirsty for more.