Sunshine, Canned

Canned beer. Canned Craft Beer. There’s no difference, for me. Whether it’s these treats – or other offerings from Caldera or Flying Dog, or crate of Bass or Boddington’s to be enjoyed over a turkey dinner and re-runs of Morecambe & Wise, it’s all the same. Canned beer. It’s good. 

I’m not old enough to remember the days of badly-canned beer; the days of people declaring ‘it tastes metallic’, but I’d hazard a guess that if you put crap, adjunct-heavy macro lager into a can, bottle, or pewter jug engraved with Norse gods  then it’s going to taste poor no matter what the medium it’s in.

Canning makes so much sense. Lighter, less susceptible to oxygen ingress,  easier to store, environmentally friendly – and the end product tastes just as good as glass. Maui do this incredibly well. As Zak attested to recently, Big Swell (6.8%) probably doesn’t get as much press as it should; not only does the name and design put you in the mind of sunshine, the beer does too. It’s simply one of the best  IPA’s out there, but for reasons other than ‘being bigger than everything else’. It’s beauty lies in the simplicity of flavour, of balance between hop and malt, of its sheer drinkability. Sunset amber in hue, and with a noseful of Pine needle up front, the sweet, boiled-sweet heavy body disappears on the finish like the surf on the can, only to be replaced by another wave of peach and grapefruit. All this with a minimum of fuss, with moderate bitterness, and no hangover of alcohol warmth. Wonderful, wonderful IPA. In a can.

Mana Wheat (5.5%) reminds me of Randy Mosher. ‘Pineapple Wheat’ sounds like one of his recipes; all crazy kitchen-experimentation and free of the boundaries of production brewing. It doesn’t quite pull the trick off; there’s subtle hints of Pineapple on the nose – like, ironically, tinned pineapple – sweet and sugary rather than zingy – but the wheat beer sitting under that is pleasant enough. Light on the body, some banana, and a lively finish. It’s an intriguing beer, and chills well – perfect for supping on a picnic blanket on a hot day.

So where is the next big canning story coming from? Is it Sierra Nevada with their bold move of putting the excellent Torpedo into 12-oz cans? Is is that too close to Special Brew territory? What’s happening the UK? Surely it’s a matter of time before one of our man , many wonderful independent brewers finds somewhere to can and makes it happen? Surely the closeness of our brewing culture and the US will mean that we will follow that lead…but we’ve been saying that since late 2010. So, what’s holding things up?

About leighgoodstuff

Blog: I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 25/07/2012, in Beer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Torpedo has been put into cans already, I’m quite surprised they haven’t made it over to the UK as of yet.

  2. well of course Brewdog already can Punk and 77 lager; its just that no other brewers have canned yet.

  3. Reading Tom

    Most studies do indeed show that cans have less overall environmental impact though this does tend to depend on the recycling rates and use of recyled material in production in any given area as fundamentally aluminium manufacture is more energy intensive than glass and also gives rise to some particularly nasty greenhouse gases such as perfluorocarbons. Interestingly the use of kegs or casks has by far the least enviornmental impact of potential beer containers due to their longevity and re-use (always better to re-use than recycle – if we went back to a return and refill system for bottles then the environmental impact would swing back in favour of glass) so if you want to be sustainable (in more ways than one) you should do your drinking in the pub !

  4. carsmilesteve

    Hi Leigh

    Our friends at Summer Wine were making some noises about canning only the other day on Twitter so we might be closer than you think.

    However, having had a maui coconut porter from a can about 9 months ago I have to say that there was a definite metallic tang to it… I’m very much open to innovation but taste is all, surely?

    (this might have posted twice, apologies if so)

    • Hi Steve.
      I’ve had the Coconut Porter a couple of times, and must say I’m not a fan (hence it not being included in this post). I find it a little thin and underwhelming. Let me put this out there; being a dark beer, I think a slightly metallic tang is actually part of the flavour of some stouts/porters – something you’d kind of expect to taste, you know what I mean?
      Basically I’m saying that I’d expect to get a little of that from a porter in a bottle OR a can. These Pales (which you’d expect to be less forgiving) tasted great.

  5. Big Swell’s on draught (key-keg?) in The Grove (Hudds) at the moment (up to last weekend certainly) and is a remarkable beer. Didn’t know cans were out there but will be hunting them down once it’s all gone. Cheers Leigh!

  6. steve thack

    ok canning can work and maui ‘s coconut porter in cans is flamming magic! but for cans to be the future we need see a benefit not just that it can ocasionally be as good as botteling. im assumin there is a good reason we havent seen a can answer to bottle conditioning. ease of storage/transport etc may make cans good choice on rare ocasions but at the moment i dont see any reason to get excitted were say thornbridge marble or magic rock to announce they were doing cans,

    • Thanks, Steve. Although I can’t remember where, I’m sure I’ve seen reports of ‘can conditioning’ being developed. As for the brewers you mention, I’d hedge a bet that one of them will be the likely ones to follow BrewDog’s lead.

%d bloggers like this: