Why you’ve nothing to fear from beer in cans

Ask a traditionalist and they’ll tell you beer in cans tastes metallic, that only bottles retain the character of a great beer. This may have been true in older times, when ‘tin’ cans were all that was available, and canning methods weren’t well understood, but times have changed and the modern beer can offers many benefits.

Brewer benefits

From a supplier’s point of view, canning beer offers clear advantages over bottling: Namely size and weight.

Cans are smaller and lighter than bottles, meaning breweries can pack more onto each truck. Reducing the amount of fuel needed, and offering a knock-on benefit of lowering their carbon footprint.

From a drinker’s point of view the brewer benefits aren’t the most important. It’s the beer inside that’s counts. Here too, cans offer advantages.

Let there be (no) light

Light is no friend to beer. Exposure to the sun breaks down the organic compounds which give beer flavour so, if you’re a traditional drinker, and you’ve not got your bottles (yes even brown ones) stored in a dark room, away from sunlight, then go and move them now.

Cans don’t let any light through, eliminating danger to the beer. You should still keep them in a cool, dry spot (that’s just good practice) but you don’t have to worry about the sun affecting flavour.

The tin taste test

Row of beers

One common concern about cans is impaired flavour, caused by the tin ‘leaking’ into the beer. Modern cans don’t suffer this problem, firstly because they aren’t made of tin anymore (aluminium is the standard metal used now) and secondly because they have an aqueous polymer liner on the inside.

This liner acts as a barrier between the can and the beer, preventing the flavours of one affecting the other. If you’re of the opinion that the lining won’t prevent cross-contamination then why not try a blind taste test?

Ask a friend to pour one bottle of BrewDog Punk IPA and a can of the same into separate glasses. Put on a blindfold, try each in turn, then judge for yourself if there’s a difference in taste. Give the glasses back, get your friend to mix them up, and try again.

After three tastes of each glass see how closely your guesses matched the reality.

Stack and store

It’s not just brewers who benefit from smaller, lighter packaging. The canny beer drinker can keep more of their favourite brew at home by abandoning bottles.

How many bottles can be easily transported from the shop? The portable shape of cans makes them much simpler to carry, meaning more beer ‘on tap’ when you want one. The same design makes home storage better too. Ever tried stacking beer bottles four rows high? It’s trivial with cans.

Can and will

Cans in a line

If brewers like Moor, Vocation, and Beavertown trust their ale to cans, maybe it’s time bottle drinkers did the same?

Beer drinkers have nothing to fear from switching, and some important gains to make. Storage and protection from daylight are big advantages, and the old worries about impaired taste aren’t a concern these days. So, if you’re wavering on giving cans a try, why not invest in a Prestige Drinks mixed 12 pack and enjoy hand-picked ales, from some of the best brewers in the world.

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