Musing the future of craft beer (2) – Cans on a roll

Interesting times these are, for sure. Great beers are available in abundance, and more to come. Beer aficionados must feel as if they’re in Walhalla and should be happy. Or should they worry? I don’t know for sure. Interesting times, and sometimes we get interesting news. Read the below and make up your own mind on how to look at the future of craft beer.

Cans go on a roll
On a positive note (when, like me, you consider cans to be the best possible packaging for most styles of beer) we see can gaining more and more traction. It is estimated sales of beer in cans grew 30% in the USA in 2017, and cans now make up almost 17% of total ‘craft’ production. Not only did cans grow as a means of packaging of choice (more breweries adding cans to the offering), cans themselves grew faster than bottled beer. Clearly the American beer drinker has embraced cans.

I blogged earlier on why I believe can is a superior packaging compared to bottle. It protects beer from the negative effects of light and oxygen in a way glass bottles never can. Cans leave a smaller carbon footprint than glass bottles, and are more efficiently recyclable than glass. Many consumers however remain wary of it, mainly because of suspected taste infection by metal. Also, they feel uneasy of serving beer from a can.

I can see the point made that pouring beer from a can, compared to a bottle, makes the beer flow more wildly which may result in an increased loss of aromas and an increased oxidation. Minute as these details may be, those are exactly the details we need to look at when taking beer seriously. And so the can manufacturing industry has responded by creating beer cans that open up the entire cap – not just a small lid where you can drink from. No, like a can of beans the top is completely removable, resulting in an excellent pouring experience. I can see these cans becoming the leading type in Canland.

Dutch cans on the increase
Luckily more and more breweries are changing to can: in The Netherlands we will soon see hoppy beers by Kees in can, eliminating bottles for his IPA’s and such from the portfolio. De Moersleutel just released its very first canned beer as well. Rumors are getting louder on Brouwerij ‘t IJ and Jopen Brewery introducing canned beers this year. In Belgium, St. Bernardus will soon be releasing its wheat beer (St. Bernardus Wit) in cans too. I cheers that, even though these cans are primarily intended for the United States. Better beer? Yes, we can!

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