Starting a small Tavern in rural Northern California. Barley and Hops Tavern catalogs the trials and tribulations of the restaurant biz, and teaching wine country to love beer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yes, we can...

I realize, of course, that canning beer is anathema among many alcoholic malt beverage aficionados. As with a great many crafts, it's the ritual of the thing that matters. Would-be ebook converts don't because there is "something about holding a book". Would-be modern car enthusiasts don't because there is "something about tuning a carburetor". And, would be canned beer imbibers don't, because there is "something about a glass bottle". I enjoy the ritual of a thing. I'd rather use my trusty knife to scallop potatoes than spend a zillionth of the time with the food processor. I consider capping a bottle an artform, and have speed cappers all over the restaurant in case I need one at a moment's notice. Hundreds of them.

So yeah, canned beer. I know about Oskar Blues but never really bothered with it, until my distributor dropped off the entire line for me to sample. I'm not so arrogant as to not drink it, and I already have exceptions (the excellent Maui Brewing Coconut Porter, Murphy's, Young's Double Chocolate)... but IPA in a can? Scottish Strong in a can?

It turns out that the cans used by craft brewers are coated; aluminum should not ever touch beer. A can is, I grudgingly admit, superior for 1) keeping oxygen out, and 2) keeping light out. I do wish they'd find a way to get a bottle cap on the damn thing, because opening a beer shouldn't "feel" like opening a pop. A pop bottle is different from a beer bottle, and a beer can should be different than a pop can. In fact, a craft beer can should be different from a macro-brew can, which should be avoided at all costs, except to use to rinse glassware.

So the beer. Oskar Blues' entire line was impressive, from a well-crafted pils, to a hop-forward pale, to the Scottish Strong (fave), the double red, and the BIG stout. The flavor profiles translate perfectly, I was able to get a good pour, and the product was, as far as I can see, wholly unaffected by the canning process. Good enough that I'm considering bringing some on.

And if you think about it, it really makes a lot of sense. The shipping costs have to be many orders of magnitude cheaper. Imagine how much less the product weighs in light aluminum than in heavy glass. This also lessens the environmental impact of shipping. It makes stocking much more space efficient - cans can go high, bottles can't. They take up way less room in my bottle fridge. Which I suppose I could call a beer fridge, in that it holds cans now too. And wine. And juice. Liquid beverage fridge. The LBF. I keep it in the ol' LBF.

Oskar Blues was the first commercially successful craft brewery to can (there was a failed attempt prior), and now there are 52, and growing. The large craft brewers are even getting in on the action, partly because certain places (lake beaches, etc) don't let you bring bottles, but do let you bring cans. They're also less heavy to hike with. So you can still enjoy craft beer in the woods. If you've ever been camping (real camping, not "camping"), you know the pack-in pack-out rule. Well crushed aluminum is much easier to pack out.

Next time you're scanning the aisles of your favorite bottle (and can!) shop, grab something new, don't fear the cans; I no longer do.


Mogen David said...

Well if your going to drink from a can you might try Buckbean. Got promote the Reno Breweries.
-The Turtle

Anonymous said...

I just happened to be daydreaming about being able to drink a decent beer in a can. I was laying out by a pool and got reprimanded for having a glass bottle....I know, I know...tsk, tsk. How convenient that I should come across this blog. I thought my fantasy was just a pipe dream. I'll be sure and pay more mindful attention the next time I'm perusing the beer aisle.