“Everyone knows that good beer comes in bottles or on draft; not cans.”
“You’ll never be able to sell canned craft beer. The craft beer drinkers knows only yellow fizzy stuff comes in cans. If you do this, it’ll be the canned beer apocalypse.”
This is the typified chorus that Dale Katechis was accustomed to hearing as he suggested canning his beers in November of 2002 to his fellow craft brewers. He was able to get an offer on a cheap canning system and wanted to distribute his beer outside of his Lyons-based brewpub. Dale and his fellow brewers shrugged and then made the purchase. The canned beer apocalypse had begun.
Fast forward 8 years and Oskar Blues has seen rapid growth. They’ve expanded into a new brewing facility and opened a new brewpub both in Longmont. In 2009, they grew by an astonishing 145% and are distributing to 21 states (and one district). All because of the lowly aluminum can. Other craft breweries in Colorado and around the country are jumping on the bandwagon. Surly Brewing out of Minneapolis, 21st Amendment Brewery out of San Fran, and Upslope out of Boulder only can or draft their beers just like Oskar Blues. Other Colorado-based breweries like New Belgium, SKA, and soon Avery have started canning their flagship beers
So what’s the big deal about cans?
- While starting up costs for a cannery are higher than a bottling line, cans are cheaper to continuously run than bottling.
- The canning process prevents more oxygen from being introduced to the beer than bottling and aluminum itself blocks out all sunlight. Canned beer keeps fresher longer.
- Cans are lighter and more durable than bottles, so transporting them across the country saves on fuel costs and broken bottles (not to mention lost beer).
- You can take cans more places than bottles, like the outdoors and softball games.
- Aluminum is cheaper to recycle than glass. A recycled aluminum can generates 95% less pollution than one made from scratch and requires 96% less energy.
The common complaint is a metallic taste some people swear they encounter when tasting a canned beer straight from the can. All cans have a water-based lining on the inside that prevents the beer from ever touching metal. My hypothesis is that if you drink beer straight from the can, you tongue can brush against the metal rim and the metal flavor from that might be what most people complain about. My suggestion is to always pour a beer – whether from a can or bottle – into a nice, clean glass.
Take some canned craft beer with you the next time you go skiing. You can thank Oskar Blues for making it possible.