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?