For many years, beer in cans has been something of a poor relation to bottles and keg, but this is more to do with the liquid put inside rather than the container itself - lets face it, a bland mass-market lager is going to taste pretty anonymous however it's packaged!
As you might expect, American craft brewers are leading the way and championing the use of cans with many of our favourite US beers now making their way over to the UK in their full metal jacket. At time of writing, CraftCans.com was listing 380 US breweries using cans for over 1,300 of their beers.
More than just a latest fad, when you start to look at the logic behind the use of cans then the facts really start to add up.
Fresh Beer and No Skunks!
We all know the best way to enjoy a hop-snappy IPA or crisp lager is when it's as fresh as the day it left the brewery. As absolutely no light can penetrate, so aluminium cans protect the beer from harmful UV light so there's absolutely no chance of nasty skunk characteristics and muted hop aromas. The canning process also creates a completely air-tight container so there's no chance of any air leeching under the crown cap and oxidisng the beer.
Unlike coloured glass, the aluminium in cans is able to be recycled time and time again with the recycling process typically using less than 10% of the energy to create a new can. The average US beer can is made from around 50% recycled material compared with bottles which have between 20% and 30% recycled glass.
Portable, Packable and Stackable
Cans are designed to stack efficiently meaning no wasted fridge or storage space. They're also so much safer to carry and, being lightweight (around 20% of the weight of a 330ml bottle), are far more economical to transport.
The Chill Factor
Aluminium cans cool down much quicker than their glass bottle counterparts meaning beer is chilled quicker - it's OK waiting for beer to chill when we've got time on our hands but in a busy bar who really wants to wait for a cold craft beer?
A Matter of Taste?
It's a myth that beer from a can will take on a metallic flavour. This may have been true decades ago but modern production techniques include coating the aluminium with a water-based polymer lining that eliminates any contamination or unwanted flavours. Just like any beverage, there will be a slight metallic taste if drunk straight from the can but we always advise that canned (like bottled) beer is best enjoyed when poured into a glass where you can enjoy the aromas and colour of the beer.
If you'd like to find out more about stocking craft beer in cans, talk to the James Clay team about the latest availability from breweries such as Stone, Flying Dog, Sly Fox, Beavertown, Magic Rock, Moor and Camden Brewery.