As a part-time beer-and-liquor store employee, I often have to make beer recommendations to characters of all types – young and old, knowledgeable and ignorant, and (most disappointingly) individuals who, for whatever reason, refuse to consume any beer in a can. In defiance of their mistaken pretentiousness, I’m writing a review of beers that are distributed exclusively (to my knowledge) in cans, hopefully demonstrating once and for all that good beer can be canned.
It’s ironic that individuals who might flock to a bottled beer like Stella or Heineken would snub America’s craft cans. The green bottles that contain these well-marketed imports ultimately leave beer more vulnerable to light’s detrimental effects than opaque cans. Furthermore, cans confer a whole host of advantages for brewers as well as beer connoisseurs who prefer their beer “unspoiled” by light. The most important of these is cost-effectiveness – cans are cheaper to produce and recycle, and weigh significantly less, critical to saving money as distribution footprints expand. Plus, the usable surface area of a can is far greater than that of an equally voluminous bottle, offering greater branding space in a crowded marketplace.
And if none of these facts have effect on your choices, then why don’t we just take a look at some great canned beer?
Daisy Cutter (American Pale Ale) – Half Acre Beer Company
I know that no one who claims to like American craft beer would discriminate against this local treasure for its aluminum packaging. This beer starts off with a distinct piney aroma and hints of lemon, an aroma that I’ve come to associate with Half Acre. The flavor is similarly pine-forward, with lemon-pepper and a lingering bitter finish. One of the finest pale ales that I’ve had, I consider myself lucky to live in the city where it’s made.
Fascist Pig Ale (American Amber/Red Ale) – Finch’s Beer Co.
While my experience with Finch’s was somewhat limited at the time I’d picked this beer out, I know from the first sip that I had a winner. The aroma is sweet with malty caramel but balanced with a piney bitterness. The flavor is incredibly malty, with brown sugar and caramel mingling with hints of a rye-like spiciness. The finish is bitter and lingering. I can certainly say that I will go back for more.
Pumpkin Ale (Pumpkin Ale) – Wild Onion Brewing Co.
Okay, I’ll admit that this one is a bit crazy, but who could say no to the bright orange can? Having read some good things about their “Hop Slayer” double IPA, I decided to give this seasonal beer a try. The aroma is sweet and spicy, with nutmeg and cinnamon being most prominent. The flavor has discernable pumpkin notes, with more nutmeg and subtle hints of some sort of citrus fruit; my palate is inclined to say orange. Overall not bad. Pumpkin beer is a polarizing style, so all I can say about Wild Onion’s attempt is to definitely try it you like this style, and don’t if you feel that pumpkins and beer don’t mix.
Old Chub Nitro (Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy) – Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
As a huge fan of almost everything that Oskar Blues makes (including, of course, regular Old Chub), I had to pick up a four-pack of these tall boys. The aroma is smoky and malty, with discernable molasses and caramel notes. The flavor is rich and sweet, but not overwhelming, and is backed up by more smoky malts. Like velvet across the palate due to the nitrogen, this beer is excellent. The bottom of my can reads “Chubs in charge.” I don’t disagree one bit, and highly recommend picking up some cans if dark, rich, and smooth are all things that you enjoy. You won’t regret it.
If you or any of your friends taste these beers and still have anything bad to say about cans, I’d be happy to continue the conversation at another time. Until then, all I have to say is that one should never judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a beer by its vessel.