In case you haven’t noticed, the beer can, once viewed as a conduit for volume drinking, house parties and drinking games, is undergoing an image transformation. In recent years, craft brewers have begun embracing the can’s many advantages, elevating its once lowly status to trendy and hip. In fact, according to Russ Phillips from CraftCans.com, the number of craft breweries putting their beer in cans has more than doubled since 2012.
There are any number of reasons for this elevated status. Not only do cans protect the beer inside from light and oxygen degradation, they offer the consumer the convenience of portability. From music festivals and golf courses to camping sites and bike trails, craft beer is now boldly going to places that were previously never thought possible.
However, it’s important to note, in the long and glorious history of beer brewing and packaging, the can itself is still in its relative infancy. In fact, canned beer didn’t make its debut until 1935. That’s when the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans to Richmond, Virginia.
A Brief Look at the History of the Beer Can
Before 1935, the thought of putting any type of beer in a can was met with opposition. Beer bottling was the accepted practice of the time, and brewers, distributors and consumers each had their own concerns on how canning would impact the beer’s taste and integrity. However, once big brewers, such as Pabst, Anheuser-Busch, and Schlitz, began adopting the process, the advantages became impossible to ignore.
From the distributor’s side, beer cans were not only easier to pack, store and stack, they could be mass produced and distributed from a single site. For the consumer, the advantage was primarily economical. Beer bottles required a deposit, and consumers had to return their bottles to get their money back. Cans freed the consumer from this inconvenience.
Embracing the Craft Beer Can Revolution
It’s hard not to draw comparisons between the craft beer in cans craze of today and the rising popularity of beer canning in the 30s and 40s. Both revolutions were tasked with changing the perceptions of the time.
However, as Katie Alsip from Rhinegeist Brewery was quick to point out in a recent interview with NPR, the perception that canned beer is inferior in quality and taste is “kind of dated.” In addition to offering the same taste experience as the bottle, today’s cans are “lighter, more portable, easier to bring anywhere, and cheaper to ship.”
In short, regardless of the reason, be it quality, convenience or price, craft beer in cans is a trend that has been a long time coming. A trend that certainly does not seem to be going away anytime soon.