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Dish of the Day: Beer bottles vs. beer cans – Which one makes your drink taste better?

Will Coldwell

f9ad2bd3105a624d229d0b930b9090ec 27633 100x300 Dish of the Day: Beer bottles vs. beer cans   Which one makes your drink taste better?Tap. Click. Pshhh. The sound of opening a can of lager is almost synonymous with drinking beer, yet it seems that for British drinkers the mark of a “quality” beverage is still one that comes in a smart, glass, 500ml bottle. The drink aisles tell it all; continental lagers stacked in aluminium cans at one end, real ales and craft beers proudly lined up in bottles at the other. With a few exceptions, the bottles will certainly contain the better beer.

In Britain we like to relish the fact that we’re drinking a superior drink and want to have that represented in the packaging. Bottles just look posher, don’t they?

The irony is, if quality is really what you’re after, a can is a far better container for beer than glass. It’s not just contact with air that can make your beer taste stale; light too can have a big effect. Light damages the beer, giving it an unpleasant smell if exposed to it for too long. This is why beer bottles are almost always in dark brown or green colours. But they still let light through.

Nothing blocks out light quite like a sheet of metal; something aluminium cans do perfectly. Cans are lighter and cheaper to transport than glass bottles, just as easy to recycle and don’t need labels either. You can also drop a can of beer and it won’t smash. What’s not to like?

In the US, where progress is less stunted by industry traditions and consumer snobbery, many craft brewers have already started including cans on their production lines. Oskar Blues Brewery was the first to do so, when they canned up their flagship Dale’s Pale Ale way back in 2002. Since then over 50 other craft brewers have followed suit. Now Oskar Blues’ new canning line rattles out 300 beers a minute and they continue to win awards for their brews. No one stopped drinking it because it was in a can, because it still tasted great. If not better.

Over here, things have been moving slower, though progress is gradually being made. Unsurprisingly, beer world hair-raisers Brewdog were one of the first to address this and now can a selection of their brews, including their ever popular Punk IPA and recent addition Dead Pony Club pale ale. Craft brewer Hobo Beer and Co, which launched last July, have made their canned pilsner a unique selling point of their brand and have created a logo that is distinct from your usual lagers. More recently, Camden Town Brewery have produced an unfiltered canned lager for the burger chain Byron and are planning to start canning some of their own.

The decision by can-friendly brewers to use smaller, 330ml cans as is the norm in the US, really sets craft cans apart visually from the traditional 440ml lager cans we are used to. The potential for canned craft to open up the market to a different demographic of beer drinkers – put off by the high prices and cumbersome bottles that most real ale comes in – is huge.

The facts really speak for themselves. If you care about the planet and like your beer fresh; cans are the only way. And before you try and say that canned beer tastes tinny, stop. It doesn’t. That’s a myth. If you’ve still got a problem, pour it in a glass. Tap. Click. Pshhh.

Follow Will at @will_coldwell

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  • Charlie Wallace

    what in blue blazes are you talking about!? bottled beer noticeably tastes miles better than its canned counterparts! glass is inert, so does not react with the beer in the same way metal does. it is in no way ’snobbery’.

  • civ71

    A glass!

  • Kanon25

    The inside of beer cans is not pure aluminium – its a “lining” a.k.a plastic.

  • Kanon25

    No, dark brown is the only useful colour for that purpose. Green is better than clear but way less effective than brown.

    In other words Carlsberg and Heineken’s priorities are style, not preserving your beer. Corona? They dont even give a damn – clear see-though bottle: you better hope all you can taste taste the lemon you stuck in there. Not coincidentally, these are probably the three most advertised beers you can find.

    If you want to know who is serious about beer quality, go to a drinks shop in Germany – you’ll find that the majority of the beer bottles there are brown. Oh, about Becks? Yeah, all that advertising should have been a hint. Green bottle confirms they are out to serve suckers worldwide, not the beer lovers in Germany.

  • Kanon25

    “Live yeast”? Not in the chemical concoctions that are sold as commerical beer.

  • Elven

    “Widget” beer is bad. Nitrogen makes any beer bland.
    Draught before bottles before cans, except for export strength Guiness, then bottled is best!

  • David Attenbeer

    I just realised that canned beer is also, in the vast majority of cases, pasteurised in a process that people generally appreciate to subdue certain flavours.

    If the point of this article was to provoke discussion, then fair enough, but it seems to have been written by someone who’s only knowledge of beer is what they have read on puff piece sites owned by loud mouth breweries.


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