News from the beer world: Cans vs Bottles?

An excerpt from my “The beerginning” journals…

“….Ever since my great beer maturation period when I switched over from Anhueser Busch products to local and craft beers I have been fascinated with the manner in which beer was bought, poured, and enjoyed. Be it from a can, glass bottle, tulip glass, pilsner, etc….”

Cans vs. Bottles

I read a mildly interesting article on Huffington Post today about a blind taste test involving 25 subjects drinking 4 beers, both of which were available in can and bottle form. Heineken, Bud Light, Sopporo and Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA.

Each beer was then poured from either its can or bottle into some SoLo-type plastic cup and the results were tallied.

Not surprisingly, the results pretty much say that it is a crapshoot as far as being able to tell which beer is from a can and which is from a bottle. A poster in the below-article forum did have a great point though, “the way a beer tastes in usually a product of how it is served.”

What if one were to serve a Westy-12 in a plastic cup? How about a Corona in a goblet? It’s no secret that a proper serving glass can amplify or idealize the way a beer should be enjoyed. But, what about straight out of the can vs. straight out of the bottle?

Of the beers sampled the only one I was mostly interested in was the Sierra Nevada. The mere fact that even SN is offering their beer in both bottle and can might just mean that before any uninformative testing was done, they knew taste wasnt affected much?

The benefits of a can?

The most obvious benefit that I can find is that a can is the best mass-market method of keeping light out of your beer. Light does bad things. Skunking your beer is the big factor. It’s ultraviolet rays that do damage to yeast; killing those buggers and thus releasing an off flavor in your beer. Most bottled beer does come in a dark brown glass to help with this problem, but it is still not as effective as a can.

There is also a rather large group of beer drinkers that say(and correctly so) that storing your glass bottles correctly keeps your beer in tip-top shape. However, factors they cannot control is what happens during the shipping process. While I find that most beer manufacturers(macro and micro brewers alike) go to great lengths to make sure their beer bottles stay as fresh as possible, the consumer cannot keep an eye on their beer from bottling to the fridge. I can tell you that having a Hofbrauhaus beer in Munich from a bottle was more enjoyable than having it in Southern California from a 6 pack that has been sitting on a dusty shelf for 3 months. Even the Paulaner was better… but that’s a different story for a different time.

Widgets?

Where this does get interesting though is when you compare beers that actually do treat the cans and bottles differently.

Two beers that come to mind are Youngs Double Chocolate Stout and a few of the Guinness brews. Mainly because both offer a bottled version and a nitrogenized widget can. While I appreciate what the widget does I find both beers to be better in the bottle, the taste richer and more rewarding. But, others disagree – see below links.

Out of all the blind taste tests I’ve looked at for beer in can vs bottle(many links below) where the beer is unaltered in its particular receptacle(no widget), the general consensus is that the beers are the same flavor with the pour being the deciding factor in a beers perceived flavor. Mouthfeel, head, lacing, etc – which can all play a part in how we might describe beer. A lot of head on a beer and one might feel the need to describe the beer as creamy with a rich mouthfeel.

Of course, this is all subjective to the drinker…

Nonetheless, plenty of good beers do come in cans. Pretty much all of Maui Brewing Co, Golden Road Brewing, and even Ballast Point is now switching over to cans. Thats fine and dandy, as long as they still fill a pint glass to the brim and don’t wuss out with 12oz Coca-Cola sized cans…

Anyway, interested as always to hear your opinions and preferences on beer in cans vs bottles.

Happy Beering!

Linkage:

Can vs. Bottle blind test on Huffington Post
Chadz Beer reviews: Youngs Double Chocolate Can vs Bottle
Damn Thats Good Beer’s Guinness Draught Can vs Bottle
Beeradvocates Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Can vs Bottle
Skunking – description from Wikipedia.
Pilsner Urquell Beer Freshness Campaign
Beer Widget, what is it? – Wikipedia

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4 thoughts on “News from the beer world: Cans vs Bottles?

  1. I’d always prefer a bottle but I think there may be a certain level of psychology/snobbery involved. The same way most people scoff at wine from a box… even though the taste could be exactly the same!

  2. I think it is pretty hard to tell the difference between beer from a can and from a bottle (provided you pour it into a glass), although I’ve not done a side by side test. I will say if you are traveling and bringing home beer in your suitcase cans are definitely preferable.

    • I see I see. I don’t know if I can tell much of a difference between them either, but it’s very easy to think the method one prefers to drink beer is the superior way to do it, but like the testing says, it really doesnt prove anything anyway. Speaking of traveling with beers, I nabbed a bunch of beers bottles from Oregon last time I was there but fortunately I didn’t have any disasters. I have heard horror stories of exploding beers or caps popping off, though. Thanks for writing and happy beering!

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