Bottles vs. Cans – A Contribution to the Discussion

Master Brewer and Author Erik Lars Myers recently posted a very informative podcast on the topic of bottles vs. cans. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check it out, its got a lot of great info in it. I’d also like to contribute a bit to the discussion here.

A word or two in favor of Cans

Cans get a very bad rap – largely because the majority of flavorless macrobrewed beers are delivered in this format. When we think “can of beer” the word “quality” isn’t usually the first thing people think of. But that may be changing – a bit!

I think in terms of “Quality” bottles will always rule the day! Nothing beats popping the cork off the bottle of a fine Belgian Ale before pourings its delights into a glass!

FlagshipIPA

With that said, cans have their place. Here are a few reasons I buy cans:

  • I can store cans in the produce drawer of my refrigerator and can fit almost a case of beer in there. Very convenient way to maximize space in a refrigerator already crowded with many 750ml bottles of Belgian ale, a variety of 22 oz. bombers and a couple of growlers!
  • I can take cans camping – aluminum is lighter than glass and when one goes backpacking lighter is better. And when I’m done with my beers I can crush my can into a little thin crepe-like pancakes that allow me to easily haul my trash out of the woods. And no matter what I will never leave any broken glass behind!
  • I can fit more cans in my cooler than bottles – especially advantageous for tailgating at the Carolina Panther games!
  • I can bring cans onto the beach – no bottles allowed!
  • I can easily pack beer cans into a suitcase with less fear of spillage than packing bottles. Who packs beer into suitcases? I do! Why would I? The best case I can provide is a recent trip to Puerto Rico where I knew in advance the beer selection was going to be atrocious! I packed a suitcase full of canned beer so my wife and I could enjoy our spring break with a few cold quality craft beers in hand! I also exchange beers with friends from around the world – exchanging and hauling cans is easier than bottles.

However, despite these advantages to cans, whenever possible, always, always, always empty the contents of your canned beer into a glass before consumption. This may not be possible when camping or at the beach, but if a glass is nearby always drink your beer from proper glassware. Beer needs to breathe in order for you to experience its full flavor! The glassware allows the beer to aerate and the aroma will reach your nose when you drink it. Drinking directly from a can will reduce the perceived flavor of your beer and you may also taste the aluminum. Storing beer in aluminum cans has no impact on the flavor of your beer, however, touching your lips and tongue to the side of a can will have an impact!

As well, as Erik Myers describes in his podcast, aluminum cans are great for storing beer since light cannot impact your beer and the aluminum leaves no off flavors.

Bottles

Brown bottles are it! Green and clear bottles are just no-no’s in the craft beer community because of the amount of light they let in and the negative impact they have on the beer. Most beers sold in green bottles typically have a skunky flavor. This isn’t normal. This is the impact of light upon your preciously sensitive beer.

Brown bottles are very good for storage of beer and they often make the best presentation. Keep in mind, when you store your own beer, always store it in a dark place. Light can still impact brown bottles, it just takes a lot longer than green or clear bottles.

And as with cans, if glassware is available, always pour your beer into one! As noted above, beer needs to breathe in order for you to experience its full flavor! The glassware allows the beer to aerate and the aroma will reach your nose when you drink it. Drinking directly from a bottle will reduce the perceived flavor of your beer since your nose cannot get fully involved in the experience.

A few North Carolina Craft Beers Available in Cans

Here are a few fine craft beers made in North Carolina and sold in cans:

  • Flagship IPA  – Carolina Brewery, Chapel Hill
  • Sky Blue Golden Ale – Carolina Brewery, Chapel Hill
  • Second Wind Pale Ale – Mother Earth Brewing Co., Kinston
  • Sunny Haze Hefeweizen – Mother Earth Brewing Co., Kinston
  • Ninja Porter – Asheville Brewing Co., Asheville
  • Shive IPA – Asheville Brewing Co., Asheville
  • Belgian Style Golden Ale – Triangle Brewing Co., Durham
  • India Pale Ale – Triangle Brewing Co., Durham
  • Belgian Style White Ale – Triangle Brewing Co.
  • Hogwild IPA – Aviator Brewing Co., Fuquay Varina
  • Devil’s Tramping Ground Tripel – Aviator Brewing Co., Fuquay Varina
  • Hot Rod Red – Aviator Brewing Co., Fuquay Varina
  • Firewater IPA – Catawba Valley Brewing Co., Morganton
  • Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale – Catawba Valley Brewing Co., Morganton
  • White Zombie Ale – Catawba Valley Brewing Co., Morganton

At Carolina Beer Temple we intend to carry many of the above beers in cans, while also featuring them on draft from time-to-time. Right now the only brewery in the above list not currently distributing in Charlotte is Triangle Brewery – so you may still need to travel to Durham to enjoy those until we can bootleg them over to the Temple!

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