Brewologist: Can great beer really be found in a can?
Good beer? In cans? Are you kidding? Well, no.
The big trend in craft beer packaging is cans -- those long-maligned, metallic pop-top containers most often associated with mass-produced boredom. Beer lovers across the blogosphere and Twitterverse have been buzzing about this for months, with some drinkers cheering loudly and others swearing they will never, ever, buy beer in cans.
The craft brewers who can their beers tout new technology that lines the can interior with a barrier to prevent the brew from taking on that metallic taste. Even before I was a certified beer snob, I stopped drinking beer in cans just to avoid that occasional tinny taste that occurred when the beer stayed in the can too long. It's like licking a 'droid, and I just don't feel that way about 'droids. Sorry, R2-D2.
Based on those long ago experiences, I was skeptical when craft brewers started going to cans. I tried to be open-minded, though; as a part-time beer journalist, it is sometimes my burden to drink swill so you won't have to. I decided to bite the bullet, and hope the canned beer didn't taste like a bullet.
I need not have worried.
I picked up a beer called Brew Free or Die IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco. I love the name of this beer, and the attitude. I'd been hearing good things about this brewery, so it was already on my radar screen. When I found their beer being sold in cans at Mitchell's Orchard and Farm Market in Ashland, I decided to snag some IPA and give it a go.
I decided before I opened the stuff I was not going to drink it straight from the can. Like any self-respecting beer snob, I use a glass even with bottled beer. I want to see the color and the bubbles. I want to place the glass under my nose and breathe deeply. I want to take a bigger swig than a bottle allows, and I want a little bit of foam on my nose.
True brew fans drink with all their senses.
So I popped a cold one and poured my India pale ale into a glass. The first thing I noticed was a beautiful hops aroma -- with nothing metallic about it whatsoever.
The beer tasted every bit as delicious as the aroma promised. The only evidence that my brew came in a can was the discarded can itself. The ale was fresh, lively and a hophead's delight.
Two other cans proved to just as good.
Sure, this is a small sample size, involving just one brand from one brewery. To be scientific, I need to pick up other canned beers -- and I will, with no hesitation.
I paid just over $8 for this IPA. How much would I have paid for the same beer in bottles? Certainly more; bottles are more costly to ship across the nation.
The cans have other benefits, too. They are easier to cart around, easier to fit into a cooler and easier to haul to the recycling bin.
If the beer inside tastes good -- and in this case it tasted fantastic -- well, then, this doubter is a believer.
Steve Goble is a copy editor and a beer snob. You can discuss beer on his blog at MansfieldNewsJournal.com/beer, or by following him on Twitter at twitter.com/brewologist.