Yesterday was National Beer Can Appreciation Day in honour of the first sale of canned brews by New Jersey brewer Krueger on January 24th, 1935. I did not know that until now and it got me to thinking about my preferred method of purchasing my beers. When it comes to my American Craft beers, I usually have to buy brown bottles, since that's what most of the offering in the 6 pack for $9.99 deal at Wegmans comes in and I will take what I can get. It is not that I don't like bottles, I drank out them for the better part of a quarter century, but there is something to be said for a Tall can and its possibilities for art. I would say well over 85% of my Ontario Craft beer comes from that style. They are as different as you could imagine, from Collective Arts use of rising artist to illustrate their brews to the simple and elegant green can with blue logo from Steamwhistle. I am always drawn to unique attempts at grabbing my eyes. Give me a visual cue that you are different and I will place your beer on the counter for purchase. Some of my most favoured brews are from Great Lakes Brewery in Etobicoke and their resident artist Garnett Garry. He has a style for character design that is unique and stands out from the ordinary. Sir Fuggled Double Bottom on the Pompous Ass can is my personal fave and combined with the beer inside drove my love of this local brewer.
I hope most of us understand that the darker the container and more protected from light it is, the better your beer will keep. Clear bottles are death to the brew if not kept out of the damaging effects of the light.(Beer with little or no hops are the exception) This is what can cause that skunky smell/tastes and should be avoided at all costs. Next up are green bottles. Originally used in place of brown bottles during World War 2 because of all the brown glass being diverted to the war effort, they are better but still let more light in than the next option. Green glass became prevalent in many European breweries because of its low cost and accessibility during this time and when their beer began to be viewed as exotic imports, unfortunately it led to the green bottle being viewed as classier than the brown.
That brown bottle, be it long neck or stubby, is the choice of most brewers. Especially the industry standard bottle that the majority of them use in common. This reduces costs and makes it easier and cheaper to return the empties to the various bottling plants for re-use.
Craft brewers have taken a different tack and as they grow, many of them veer away from the industry standard to make unique and wonderful variations on that bottle. Logos, bigger, smaller or different shapes abound to try and catch your eye as they shuffle for space in the LCBO.
I will finish with the cans. I am a fan of these for a couple of reasons. One is their completely shutting light out from my beer. That is a key selling feature. Number two is portability. Less chance of accidentally breaking one than with bottles and are great for camping or any other outdoor activity. Finally, their larger and uniform surface make for a wonderful opportunity for the breweries to go a little nuts with their artwork and this is great for guys like me who have a wall of beer.
But I will once again ask you, ever so politely, to please put your beer in a glass. Drinking from the bottle or can is best reserved for Macro lagers that have no real scents to speak of. Putting a craft beer in a glass allows all the aromas to come to you and the visual of that beer pouring into the glass or swirling around as you sip and contemplate life is just wonderful.
Treat your beer right and keep it away from the light. A cold cellar in your basement is best, but the fridge or any dark cool place will make sure your beer is free from the damaging ultra violet rays that will turn it into something best left to attract slugs in the garden.