It certainly isn’t a “new” thing in craft, beer, but the trend of putting great beer in cans is growing daily. This is especially true for styles that would work in summer (or spring) and are more likely to see time outdoors and in places where bottles just won’t cut it.
Here’s why craft brewers are trying to inform the beer drinking world that cans, when done right, are often better vessels for your product than bottles. This idea that cans = “inferior” is becoming old hat — and for good reason.
Canning a beer helps mitigate the two worst problems with package brews: natural light and oxygen. A can completely cuts out any sort of light that may skunk a beer, and the top of the can seems to seal better than a bottle cap, keeping oxygen out of the beer and slowing down oxidation, the process that can degrade a beer’s flavor. Cans are also lighter and easier to stack/load, which helps reduce shipping cost and the environmental footprint of both brewer and consumer. Some people assume that canned beer will taste “metallic,” but taste tests have shown that to be a bit of a myth. A properly coated interior eliminates that issue. One challenge may be keeping canned beer colder as long as beer in a glass bottle, but a koozie will take care of that.
First things, first: get a Bell’s Oberon, my favorite summer beer on the market. It’s reasonably priced and readily available in tall boy (16-ounce) cans. Oberon is a solid wheat beer with a touch of hop character and kiss of bitterness in the finish, which acts like a great palate-cleanser. There is just enough orange peel added to the beer to let the citrus flavor shine through without becoming overpowering. This is a refreshing option that’s interesting to beer newbies and nerds alike.
You can’t talk about cans without a tip of the hat to one of the first major craft beer players to go “all-in” on the can idea: Oskar Blues Brewery of Colorado. Mama’s Little Yella Pils is a fantastic take on a German pilsner. Although a fairly traditional German pilsner in ingredients, there’s a touch more body and fruit character than you’ll typically find in more traditional takes on the style. The brewery also make the Pinner Throwback IPA — probably my favorite session IPA. (“session” usually means the beers are in the 5% alcohol range). The hops give it loads of great citrus and tropical fruit character without any aggressive bitterness at the end. This might be a great beer to introduce American hops to a friend who thinks they won’t ever touch IPAs.
Most of these beers should be available in cans almost all over town, with the exception of Passion Fruit Prussia, which is a limited, seasonal release. Also, don’t be surprised to see these selections on tap around town at places that traditionally have extensive draft lineups.