It is a fight that has raged on for years. When you are away from the tap which is better, the bottle or the can? I am sure most people would agree if you said the best way to enjoy a craft beer is straight from the tap. A nice fresh pour can be a thing of beauty.
All too often, this isn’t an option. Maybe the beer you want is brewed hundreds of miles away, and it just isn’t available on tap anywhere near your house. Maybe you are at home, and you wife won’t allow you to purchase multiple kegs to have on tap in the kitchen. Either way, you are faced with a choice. In the battle of bottle vs can, which is better, and more importantly why?
Bottles and the Taste Factor
Bottled beer tastes better. This is the primary and oldest argument given for bottles over cans. Many believe, including me for a number of years, that beer from a can just didn’t taste as good as beer from a bottle. We believed that the can would impart a metallic taste to the beer, something unnoticed when drinking most macros, (let’s be honest we were just happy to be able to taste something with most of those beers), but with craft beer it can completely set a beer off.
A test was done by the people over at Drinkcraftbeer.com, to see if metallic “bleed” was a real thing. Their conclusion:
‘I ended up getting half correct and half wrong…although I couldn’t even make a guess on one of the beers. 50/50 is what you’d expect if I was just guessing, so it seems that I couldn’t tell which was which. I didn’t pick up any metallic flavors in any of the beers that weren’t there across both glasses.”
I have to admit in my own experience, once poured, canned beer and bottled beer have no discernible taste difference. When drank directly from their containers, I sometimes can detect a little bit of that metallic taste, but if I just take the time to clean the lid off the can it disappears. For me, I see no taste advantage for either side in the bottle vs can debate.
The Benefits of the Can
Can supporters have a pretty strong case. First, cans are filled to the very top leaving very little room for oxygen in the can. Less oxygen, less damage to the beer. Next, there is the simple but obvious argument, Cans, unlike bottles and especially unlike light-colored bottles, do not allow any light in, preventing skunky beer. If you aren’t going to be drinking your beer right away, cans definitely have an advantage.
A quick aside: I am not sure about aging in cans I have never tried it. I have read pros, as listed above, and cons. The inside of cans are coated with a thin plastic that may degrade over time. I don’t have any advice on this, but feel free to join the discussion here.
Brewers are moving to the can side of the argument as well. In addition to the advantages listed above, they like cans because they are lighter, pack together better and reduce shipping costs. This means they don’t spend as much and, hopefully, don’t charge as much.
There is one more advantage cans have over bottles. Can’s don’t shatter. There is zero risk of broken glass, which means they are welcomed at many campgrounds, in parks, on the beach, and at golf courses. Now you can enjoy good beer at a multitude of events, instead of being stuck with a macro that probably doesn’t taste as good as the water at the beach.
Canning is defiantly gaining in popularity. Let us know what you think. Leave a comment on which you prefer and why.