Monday, 8 March 2010

Beer: We Can Do It!

Here begins my campaign for canned craft beer in the UK. The official slogan is currently ‘Cans are not just for baked beans’, but I’m still working on that bit.

In 2002, Oskar Blues started putting their beer into cans; they were the first brewery in the US to see a future for canned beer. Now over 50 are doing the same, including 21st Amendment, Anderson Valley, Maui Brewing Co, New Belgium and Surly ('Beer for a glass, from a can'). 21st Amendment have recently announced their Insurrection Series, which will be ‘a limited edition, four-pack release of a very special beer that rises up in revolt against common notions of what canned beer can be’. They started this series with Monk’s Blood. The beer in these tins are not your mass-market, corn-fed, yellow fizz.

There are significant pros to the argument for drinking canned beer, they are: Cans are lighter and more space-efficient than bottles (378g vs. 592g in a 355ml container); they are roughly the same diameter, but cans are stackable; there are no worries of smashed glass with a can; any light struck issues disappear in a can, so the beer stays fresher; cans now have a thin layer attached to the inside so any worries of it ‘tasting like tin’ disappear; aluminium is eco-friendly and recyclable; cans chill quicker than bottles; you don’t need to put labels on a can; cans suggest that you drink the beer fresh and in most cases fresh is best; and, you will also likely get away with drinking a can of beer in a public place or at work and people will just think it’s one of those loudly coloured soft drinks, if that’s of any interest.

For balance, there are some negative issues: The mentality of drinking beer from a tin is the main one as canned beer is seen as the cheap, mass-market stuff which you open, drain in one hit and then smash the empty tin against your forehead. This is a difficult mentality to overcome. Also, the addition of canning facilities to a brewery is an extra, initial expense alongside (or instead of) a bottling line. And here’s a point I’m unsure amount – we have cask and bottle conditioning, how about can conditioned? I don’t know if it’s possible, so real ale in a can may be a no-go, which some might not like (though real ale is not the be-all and end-all of good beer, of course).

Ultimately it comes down to taste. It’s easy to list reasons why cans are good but if, when that ring is pulled back and the beer is poured out, it doesn’t taste good then the argument is wasted. 21st Amendment’s regular cans are Hell or High Watermelon Wheat and Brew Free or Die IPA. They are great looking cans, bold and colourful. The Watermelon Wheat is literally a can full of fruit, it’s light and quenching, relatively low in alcohol and like sinking your teeth into a juicy piece of melon (just don’t try this if you don’t like watermelon). Brew Free is a fantastic IPA, bready-caramel base with a flood of tropical and citrus fruit and pine - very tasty and neither too-sweet nor over-bitter.

Two of the beers I brought back from California were in cans and I now wish I’d squeezed a few extra in. Maui Brewing’s CoCoNut Porter is 5.7%, comes in a great looking can and is made with hand-toasted coconut. It pours a dark chocolate colour and straight away that coconut comes through, like liquid Bounty. One sip and I was in love. It’s great fun, it’s fresh, it’s different and the mix of fragrant coconut with roasty, chocolatey, dry porter is a complete revelation (the brewer is currently in the UK doing something for the Wetherspoons beer festival... look out for it, you’d be coco-nuts not to). Oskar Blues Ten Fidy is the A-list superstar of canned beer. It’s a 9.5% imperial stout and it pours a gorgeous inky brown with one of those creamy, dark heads that you want to spoon up and eat. The aroma is the intoxicating mix of doughy sweet bread, oatmeal, dark chocolate and berries. It’s richly full bodied, a fresh bread flavour kicks it off which gets darker and darker passing through toast, cream, chocolate and coffee, heading into cocoa-covered roasted berries. It’s as good an imperial stout as I’ve ever had.

I’d like to see canned craft beer in the UK. But I don’t think we are close to that yet. Tins of Hobgoblin and Green King IPA don’t count, I’m afraid, but I think there’s real potential for others. The mentality of drinking canned beer might be the biggest thing holding it back, but times are changing and there are many pros to canning beer - brewing is constantly in evolution, the world is changing, the need for more efficient practices are gaining importance and this is one thing that the beer industry can do. Not all breweries could succeed to begin but there are some who definitely could. Maybe it needs a new brewery to come in with a radical game-plan to try and shake things up a bit... Whatever happens, expect my Can Campaign to be on-going – We CAN do it!

And here’s some proof that 21st Amendment use fresh watermelons... We didn’t break into the brewpub, by the way, that’s Richard from Elizabeth Street Brewery and he was picking up a keg of beer for a party, which I went to. And yes, I did quote Dirty Dancing as this picture was being taken.


  1. This would have been a great post for April 1st.

  2. You mean it isn't? It's a worthless solution to a non existent problem as far as I can tell.

    Mark. Britain isn't the US and odd though it may seem, everything they do isn't worth copying.

  3. Tandleman, a lot of what they do IS worth consideration... This is not just about following their lead, this is about looking at new ways of packaging, presenting and distributing beer in an ever-changing industry. It may not be something that will work now but I think that in the future it's something which needs consideration. It likely wouldn't interest you because you are a pub drinker but there are plenty of others who do drink at home...

  4. See you enjoyed the Coconut porter, one of the top class everyday beers of my honeymoon.

  5. I agree, Mark, there is a lot of potential here. the Ten Fidy is proof that you can have great canned beers.
    This is not to say that all beers should be canned, but that there is a market out there.

  6. Out there Knut, but not out here. That's rather my point. There isn't a problem that requires this particularly inelegant solution. Cans of beans are functional.Cans of beer, no matter the content look and feel naff.

    In this at least, I am a snob.

  7. Given the choice of the same beer canned or bottled, I would pick canned almost every time. (Assuming the taste is the same).

    You've already listed the reasons, but I would make the choice based on space, storability, speed of chilling and protection from light strike.

    I understand why people prefer the look and feel of a glass bottle. But, not having the luxury of a big cellar space to store beer in, I'd plump for function over style.

  8. The beer would probably be less susceptible to oxidation in a can I imagine, as most crown caps are oxygen permeable. It's probably more important how the beer is treated at the brewery, though. I don't feel I can comment because I've never tried a good beer from a can, but an imperial stout from a can just seems wrong!

  9. I think that's the point Geoff. It seems wrong, but actually its only mental, there isn't any scientific reason for it to taste any different to a bottle.

    Something I forgot to mention in my comment above: can conditioning. I can't see why it wouldn't work. The environment in the can will be exactly the same as a bottle, surely? The yeast isn't going to mind a can instead of a bottle. Cans are probably capable of holding more pressure than a bottle too, so no problem there either.

    I have noticed that old cans of coke lose pressure. Is there an argument that long term storage of beer in a can wouldn't work?

  10. Useful for drinking out of a brown paper bag on a park bench!

    I can see the environmental and practical benefits - no need to carry around a bottle opener - but they do look a bit naff compared to an elegant shaped bottle.

  11. Great post, I've been lobbying for bottles of beans for years...

  12. I think it depends a lot on the beer. Session brews would benefit greatly from canning. Easier to carry around to the beach or a BBQ or on a trip wherever. More complex beers, however, I don't know, I don't see anything technically wrong with it (though, aging could be an issue), the problem seems to be one of image mostly.

  13. Knut, I agree. There isn't market for every beer, but certainly some. It also won't suit every brewery, but it will do some.

    Tandleman, what's inelegant about a can? What makes them naff? It's all a mentality thing. Many of the cans are more visually appealing than the bottles. And to be honest, you'd pour them into a glass anyway so the container is detached from the beer when you drink it. Have a look at the cans when you visit Chicago, maybe grab a Ten Fidy or a Brew Free IPA.

    Chunk, the functional side is important and a big bonus. As for can conditional, I really don't know... I think a plus side of cans is that they should be drunk fresh and not aged. I don't think you'd put a beer in a can which you'd want to age. IPAs, pale ales, lagers, all of these would be ideal, but then look at 21A and they are trying different things with their Insurrection series.

    Geoff, I know what you mean, but it's seriously good. You wouldn't know that it's been in a can and somehow that makes it more impressive. The beer is the same whether it's been in a bottle or a can.

    Dubbel, it's all got to come out of the container in the end! Whether it's in a carrier bag or a fancy handbag, you still carry it home (that's 'you' plural, not specifically 'you' and your handbag...)

    Nick, now you're talking!! Maybe a large glass bottle like ketchup?! :)

    PF, I think most beers should be drunk fresh and this promotes that. If a beer needs time for it to develop and get better then put it in a bottle (or make it better in the first place!)

  14. Most British micros can't afford a bottling line, never mind a canning operation.

    As for the environmental argument, I think the Germans have more of a handle on what's ecologically sound than the Americans do, and they have effectively banned cans. They also have a functioning returnable bottle system which is the way to go to reduce waste.

    Drinking draught beer is the greenest of all, obviously.

  15. You see a lot more of what would once have been called "premium bottled ales" in cans nowadays - even Marston's Old Empire.

    An independent off-licence I frequent also sells cans of Budweiser Budvar.

  16. London pride is canned too. and slightly cheaper in price. if there is no flavour alteration and the price could be lowered why not.
    it is going to mean the poor homebrewer will have to buy bottles rather than recycle old ones to put there beer in.

  17. Barm has a very good point. I would still rather have my beer in a bottle but have better recycling facilities for this.

    In Sweden and as Barm mentioned in Germany they have great returnable schemes where you are effectively paid for taking the bottles back. Something which helps to pay for the next round!

    I can see Marks point though. If it isnt going to change the taste, and it sounds like it doesnt drastically do that. Then I wouldnt mind seeing some more 'premium' ales in can form.

    It does come back to the investment though and whether UK brewers will take the gamble. At this moment in time, id say no.

  18. Barm, drinking from the brewery is even better... Is it right that breweries can't re-use bottles in the UK? Or have I made this up from somewhere?!

    Curmudgeon, I've seen a few different beers in cans recently. I don't like 500ml cans though, there's something about them which makes me think of Special Brew or Fosters in the park. 330ml cans are much better.

    Andy, I'm sure there will always be bottles around to fill with homebrew! Interesting that canned Pride is cheaper than bottled... maybe there's scope for breweries to contract can?

    Michael, it is a significant investment and a big gamble. Not many breweries could do it. There's also the market which, judging by the comments, is less than enthusiastic. Maybe some cans will travel over for GBBF this year and we can try them then. I know there are some US cans in the UK, Caldera, I think, but not many.

  19. I'm with Tandleman on this one, I just don't see the point of cans for beer in general, let alone for craft beer, that said, I do have some cans from 21st Amendment and Oskar Blues in the cellar.

    Thing is, I like real ale, I like bottle conditioning, I like cask and unless there is some method of "can conditioning" then I don't see the point, other than getting Bishop's Finger in the can so you don't have to fret about skunking in a clear bottle.

  20. Just Re: Barm's point, it's true, canned beer are actually relatively rare here in Germany (compared to other countries at least). Although there is a refund scheme for cans that was introduce 4 or 5 years ago, the feeling seems to be that people bought cans for convenience, so they could throw them away. With the refund it makes cans about as handy as bottles, so the trend has apparently moved away from cans here. That's based on talking to people here, so is anecdotal, but I have to admit I rarly see cans here as people tend to buy beer by the crate.

    The German Pfand system is certainly alive and well though, and even plastic bottles of coke or water have a return value on them.

    Cans now seem to be such a novelty here that a colleague drives across the border to the Netherlands (he lives close to the border) to buy cans as he simply loves drinking form them. Taken from another point of view, I grew up drinking cans of beer in fields or street corners, and that automatically make me associate them with crap beer. But as mentioned above, that's just a personal feeling about them. The only way to tell is a blind tasting :)

    By the way, why don't the UK and Ireland have a proper bottle returns system? I remember as kid in Ireland collecting lemonade bottles and bringing them to the shop so I could use the refund to buy sweets :)

  21. Barry,

    we used to do the same in Scotland - 10p or something for taking back a bottle of Irn Bru!

  22. An interesting kite you're flying here Mark. However I think there is not a cat in hell's chance of this taking off, despite the small chorus of support you have garnered from overseas.

    I think that the concept of canned beer = crap beer (or at least second rate beer) is too deeply embedded in the European psyche (and I include the UK here), or at least in the psyche of the growing number of people who have a serious interest in beer (and that includes those who make it - Paradox in a tin, anyone?), for it to be a serious option.


  23. Proper Real Keg in a can, marvelous!

    And Dredgie, track time is coming!

  24. I'm with you, Mark.

    I wonder if canning craft brews is more acceptable in the US because a few brave breweries have canned their quality beers, even though canned beers are, by and large, yellow fizzy water in the states.

    Like you said, it's a mentality thing, and one that I think can be overcome in any country. I think if a prominent craft brewery in the UK that already has a reputation for brewing great beer were to start canning, you would see the beginning of your Can Campaign take home.

    But you guys are right, let's worry about appearances. Can someone please find me a bottle of beans? I enjoy eating beans, but I don't want to look naff and all.

    (Is it a coincidence that the word verification for this comment is "puratins"?)


  25. I really can't see 'quality' canned beer taking off here. Cans are much more popular in the states. And when I did a sober blind tasting of canned and bottled London Pride the canned was clearly worse tasting (BTW Fullers don't can their own beer, it's trucked up to Cains for canning).

    Not a lot of glass bottles are re-used (though Harvey's do) but a lot of glass is recycled.

  26. Al, did you use your refund for a ten-penny mix too? :D

  27. Ed: Interesting you say that, I was planning to do that exact test and write a blog about it. Do you know if there are any other differences in the canned and bottled versions?

  28. British ales that are available in both can and bottle often tend to have a rather softer carbonation in the canned version in an attempt to give an impression of a "draught" product.

    (NB this is not the same as nitrogenated "widget" cans)

  29. Joking aside, its all about how the beer tastes so if it can be done then why not?

    If they are reading this it must be the kind of thing that Brewdog would consider...

  30. Mark - I recently tried my first canned 'craft' beer and quite liked it - - you can read more here but I found it quite a novelty, and vaguely strange. Still, the beers the main thing - and it tasted fine.

  31. "Al, did you use your refund for a ten-penny mix too? :D"

    Ah you youngsters. It was 3d when I were a lad and I can remember it being 2d. Mind you that was real money then.

    Mark: quoting you "Curmudgeon, I've seen a few different beers in cans recently. I don't like 500ml cans though, there's something about them which makes me think of Special Brew or Fosters in the park. 330ml cans are much better."

    You've destroyed what little argument you had by admitting that cans have an image problem. Why don't you go the whole hog and admit it is an idea whose time here hasn't come and isn't needed?
    PS The verification is phequ. I wouldn't be so rude!(-;

  32. Barry,

    Of course! 20 halfpenny chews was my normal choice, but I was also partial to sherbet spaceships, black jacks or the pink shrimp things.

    Whatever happened to proper sweet shops?


    I still lament the demise of the halfpenny coin, getting 2 for a penny sweets just isn't as much fun!

  33. Don't know how it works in the UK or Europe, but in California we get a refund for returning cans and bottles. More conveniently, everyone has a big blue recycling bin at home that's a collect-all for recycling. We also have recycling bins at most parks. All of these take both bottles and cans.

    The big difference is that aluminum is far easier to recycle and the benefits of recycling aluminum vs bottles is far greater.

    In the States we also have to worry more about transportation. England is no bigger than Louisiana. California is 4 times the size of England. Having a container that is 37% lighter translates to less fuel consumption which helps reduce costs as well as carbon emissions.

    I'm with everyone that says a can just seems wrong, but if a good (and in some cases great) beer is in a can, I'm going to drink it.

    I don't see why can-conditioning isn't an option. The only concern would be an aged can bursting from continued fermentation and CO2 creation.

  34. Al, I'd love to hear what you think of the cans when you open them. Maybe they will go some way to changing your mind...

    Barry, I grew up drinking bad beer from cans too so that first time you open a can is a strange moment, but these cans are so far removed from Fosters, etc. In a blind tasting I'm betting that you wouldn't know. And the good thing about many of the canned US beers is that they are actually made for cans.

    JC, canned beer equals crap beer is deeply ingrained, I agree, but fashions and opinions change in everything. And Paradox in a tin? Why not? It's not especially a beer for aging, so what's wrong with that?! :)

    Daniel, it has taken some brave breweries to push canned beer forward. I'm betting it was tough going for Oskar Blues for a while. A decent beer from a decent brewery packaged in a good can and why the hell not?!

    Ed, interesting. I've done a couple of side-by-sides with Belgian cans vs bottles and not really noticed much difference. As Chunk says, I wonder if Fuller's do something different with the beers they bottle and the beers they can? And idea?

    Terry, Brewdog could be the only ones to pull it off, who knows?

    Leigh, nice post, very interesting read.

    Tandleman, phequ too!! I have said that cans have an image problem and there's a mentality to overcome. I don't think anyone can look at a 500ml can and not think of lager or special brew. That's what we need to overcome. Brightly coloured or interesting cans look more like soft drink (not necessarily good, but better than Special Brew). But the can can look however the brewer wants it to. The Ten Fidy and CoCoNut look great, I think. And the time hasn't come in the UK yet, but it might...!

    Mario, transportation is another pro to the list! And can-conditioned real ale could be the future!

  35. Chunk - go for it, i'd be interested to hear if other people notice the difference. We did a triangle test, where you're given three samples and you have to spot the odd one out.

    I don't know if fullers do anything different to their canned and bottled beers or not. As they're the same strength I assumed they're the same beer.

    I can't see 'can conditioning' taking off. Wouldn't the can deform as the pressure rises?

  36. The environmental and presentational issues seem to be insurmountable, before we even get to beer quality. How is tankering beer up and down the length of England environmentally-friendly? I don't know where 21A can their stuff, but ask around, Mark. Bottling is unbelievably expensive, and I bet canning is, too.

    I lived in Germany, and the simplicity of the pfand system, when my local supermarket took my crate of empty bottles off me so the local brewery could pick 'em up and reuse them, made me wonder what was wrong with the UK, where we seem to have forced our way into a lazy, selfish disposable society. If Tesco delivery lorries are going one way with comestibles for the shop, there's no cost argument to stop them picking up recyclables on their unloaded wagons (using the unitainers they dropped last delivery) and taking them back to the depot.

    Dr Boggle prescribes more travel for Young Dredge so he can join the dots with a bit more coherence...

  37. If I could can my homebrew, if it didn't affect the taste, I'd be fine with it, for the reasons stated above.

    Good post Mark, really enjoyed reading the debate.

  38. Mark,

    if the beer in the cans I have is good it is a result of the beer, not the can surely?

    While I prefer real ale, I am happy enough to drink force carbonated stuff, whether from a keg or bottle - just as well over here as bottle conditioning or cask is a rare beast.

    The beer then is the most important thing, not how the beer gets from fridge to stomach and I just don't see that much of a benefit for shifting to cans in the UK context.

  39. I love the fact that Rodenbach comes in cans -- it means I can cram lots more of it into my baggage allowance, and that it's basically baggage-handler-proof

    Tandleman's right about your aversion to large cans Mark: you can't have it both ways. I'd happily drink decent beer by the half-litre can (and have done from a five-litre one for that matter), and now I'm fascinated by Curmudgeon's softly-carbonated canned British ales. I must look out for them. Which beers, Mudgie?

  40. Thanks for a really thought-provoking post Mark. I must confess I let my old prejudice rule me in passing over the craft brew cans I saw on sale last time I was in California but I won't make the same mistake again. I tend to agree with many of the posters here on the environmental argument, though -- deposite bottles must have the edge over cans.

  41. Canned Tanglefoot, Hobgoblin, Bass and Old Speckled Hen all fall into this category. While they aren't widget cans, I think some nitrogen is introduced into the gas mixture, giving a thicker head, but less evident carbonation in the beer itself, whereas bottled versions of these will all show rising columns of CO2 bubbles when poured into a glass.

  42. Thanks for that. We get a canned Bass here brewed at Wellpark in Glasgow. Is that the same one?

  43. Al, it is all about the beer. The context and the container is just something different, that's all. I'm not saying this is the future or the only option, it's just one possible option, like offering more 5 pint mini-kegs or plastic bottles.

    TBN, gladly put the beer in 500ml/pint cans, but it'll just be a greater barrier to overcome. The size doesn't matter, the mentality applies to all cans.

    I wonder if wine had similar problems when screw caps were introduced or when you could get plastic bottles, boxes or bags of wine?

    Des, don't overlook them next time!

    Curmudgeon, I know what you mean about the difference in texture. Speckled Hen is one that's particularly creamy in the can. None of the US stuff had that nitro quality to it, thankfully.

  44. BN, no, the English canned Bass is a different beer. It used to be available in bottles too, but I haven't seen those for ages.

    Mark, I'm not particularly fond of the creaminess in canned ales and therefore tend to avoid them even though I have no ideological objection to canning. You don't get the same in imported canned lagers (British ones - hello Cookie! - tend to taste crap anyway).

    For a bottle deposit scheme to work, you need to have standardised bottles, which doesn't seem to be a problem in Germany.

  45. Mark, you missed a chance with your slogan. Surely drawing on your recent US trip, and their inspirational president, your slogan should be "Yes, We Can".

    I'm unsure of the oxygen transmission in the rolled seal on a can - they're all just crimped seals - but I'd be surprised if it was much more or less than a crown-capped bottle.

    When I was shown around the Brooklyn Brewery, we came across a pallet of canned Brooklyn Lager. I asked Garrett what the motivation was for doing it, and as well as citing the benefits you've underlined, he was also quick to mention other commercial opportunities, namely golf courses and aeroplanes, where bottles are forbidden.

    And one of the most unexpected pieces of gear I came across in Wales last year was a low-volume canning machine at the Rhymney Brewery. They handle a lot of bottling for other breweries, and I'm sure they'd be interested in undertaking some contract canning, should anyone be interested.

  46. I can't understand the huge aversion to cans. I might not want every beer I buy to come in a can but surely for smaller measures their is a role for decent beer in decent cans.

    There's no doubt there's an image problem, but not with everyone and I think there's a few blinkers on here: 90% of my friends aren't uneducated hooligans (most of the time) but they perfectly happily drink lager from a can. There's no image problem whatsoever. They'd actually be a bit more likely to try more beers and pump some money into the independent brewing scene if some different beers came in a can!

    And positive PR for the recycling benefits of cans is certainly one tonic to the overall negative image, there's barely been a better time in the history of marketing to capitalise on your environmental strengths over competition.

    Environmentally (to the best of my knowledge) cans are much easier to recycle than glass, and unless glasses are collectable in one piece there's a decent argument for reducing beer carbon footprint by using aluminium where appropriate argument for that.

    Recycling facilities in the UK range from the pretty good to the woefully inadequate, but even in the good places how much of your green bin actually gets reused? Less than you'd think I imagine! Until returning bottles for reuse becomes more commonplace surely there's an obvious benefit place for decent beer in decent cans?

    Given a can of lout or a bottle of lout I almost always go for bottle, I'm a snob on that front - the taste is better even if that's just in my head. But having not tried anything much more sophisticated than Carlsberg Export it's not a fair test and I won't knock cans as a principles until I've tried it and I'd be keen to see a UK brewer give it a go.

  47. This is all fine and dandy but the fact remains that it just ain't gonna happen.

    In fact this might be a challenge. Is the beer blogosphere just a small(-ish) group of people just essentially talking to each other (albeit in a usually entertaining and/or informative way) or can it actually make something happen?

    Answers on a post card please.


  48. In the wine industry there is significant evidence that synthetic corks or screw caps are better than real cork. The stopper can only damage the drink when it goes wrong. Despite this quality wine, and I refer to French stuff at many £10s per bottle, still have cork stoppers.

    Despite the fact that canning might well be better, technically, I think John Clarke is right, it probably won't happen soon.

    Real cork signifies good wine, rightly or wrongly. Canned beer signifies cheap.

    I love the thought of Tandleman being a snob, well done that man, welcome to the world of snobbery.

  49. California is not 4 times the size of England, numb nuts. England is three quarters the size of California. Do the math beer geek!

  50. Zak, I was trying to find that brewery over the weekend as someone pointed me towards them a while ago. And the added commerical possibilites is another pro for the list. Brew Free is now on US domestic Virgin flights, which is a great thing.

    Mark, thank goodness I'm not all alone on this one! Interesting how the environmental and recycling issues are coming through in the comments. From the PR/marketing side of things it's a great step and a chance to stand out and be different, the trouble is different isn't always good... I'd buy it though!

    JC, there's no reason why we can't make something happen but we'd all need to be united and what are the chances of that every happening?!

    Dave, yes, the wine similarity is interesting but more wine is now coming with a screw cap. It may not be the super-premium end, but it's there. The can could be the beer-equivalent of the screw top, ideal for certain types of beer!

  51. California is not 4 times the size of England, numb nuts. England is three quarters the size of California. Do the math beer geek!

    California has a land area of 163,696 square miles; England is 50,346 square miles. So California is 3.25 times bigger, much nearer his figure than yours.

  52. Mark, if you want to look for an environmentally friendlier way to contain beer, then I think you should call for reuse before calling for recycle. I like that bottles here get scuffed and worn-looking, and nobody cares. :)

    Although my teenage drinking is bound to have imprinted on my subconscious, I have no problem with cans in principle. That's why a three-way blind taste would be a good way to test an individual beer. I can't get many canned beers that I might like here, but I'd be willing to cross the border to get cans of Rodenbach! :D

    I think the source of Tandleman's abhorrence of cans is much deeper-rooted, although he probably doesn't realise it himself: that being, they don't come in pint or half-pint measures with a crown marking. ;) :D

  53. Ha. Not at all and frankly if home drinkers want to drink out of cans, fine really, but the arguments don't stack up.

    Sid was a bit cheeky to Mark who's points seem to be based on wishful thinking and that fact that you can make cans bright and colourful and stack 'em up a bit more easily than bottles. Not really reason enough.(-;

    The serious point, or rather, one of many, is that craft brewers do not have the size or volume or the wish to waste money overcoming widespread quality beer drinkers doubts about cans, to make canning worthwhile.

    Many American Craft brewers are brewing giants by our standards, so the whole situation is different there and even then, few do it. It needs to be said a lot, Britain isn't America and for many reasons, we do things differently here. Culture, economics, geography and history being a few of a non definitive list.

    I could go on, but I'm sure you get the picture. The main reasons against it are: it's too expensive, quality and aesthetic doubts and last but not least, why do we need to overcome anything, there is no bloody demand?

    And you don't create a demand on the wish that a small number of beer geeks can get more of them in a suitcase.

  54. @TM: cheeky? moi? ;-)

    Actually, I missed a word out of my reply that was quite important - when I mentioned bottling and canning, I meant to include "lines".

    Who'da thunk a topic like this could generate such heat?

  55. I'm all for reuse before recycling, but whilst canning might not be possible for many breweries, I'd argue it's probably as likely as a UK-wide reuse system taking off any time soon. I wish it would take off and I'll be first to campaign for that don't get me wrong, but we can't even organise a consistent plastics and glass recycling system in the UK, and there's only one place in the whole of Leeds I know that recycles tetra-paks.

    As an exmaple of our poor recycling facilities in the UK, take ASDA, based in Leeds, who pack most of it's meat in Type 5 (PP) plastic which ironically, is one of the main plastics that Leeds CC cannot recycle.

    Independent brewers are going to struggle to ever make cans work on a cost scale, all I'm saying is why the negativity to the idea? If a brewer *could* do it, and a re-bottling system was many years away, why shouldn't someone try it? I think there's a market out there that we're forgetting about beyond beer geeks.

  56. Tandleman, there isn't demand because there is very little knowledge of quality canned beer. This post is not intended as a Call to Arms and a 'let's put every beer in cans'. This is intended to show the relative positive sides of cans and open a few eyes to what is happening elsewhere. Nothing more. It's a bit of fun! We don't need to change anything but it's nice to see different options.

    Fletch, the market fits in with the environmental side well. It may even open up beer to more, younger people, but I don't know. As always, it's education and understanding options. I just wished I'd saved a can of Ten Fidy to share with people so they coud've tasted it too - it's wonderful stuff!

    If a brewery can use cans and market them well, and the beer is good enough, then the demand is created for others to follow. It's a fashion thing; someone starts and others follow. Fashion isn't for everyone; some create, some follow, some ignore, some do the opposite, most don't care.

  57. All these comments and no ones mentioned Heineken. A really nice elegant shaped 330ml can.

  58. Mark - Looking at different options got us smoothflow, so it isn't always wise!

  59. Very good point Tandleman, I'd say that's an unfortunate result of progress but that the progress is yet to happen (unless you count progress as fuelling my beery youth down the local or at the footy!). Hopefully it's an unlikely case 'one step backwards, two steps forwards' (with the forwards in lieu!)

  60. The United Kingdom is roughly 56% the size of California. That doesn't equate to California being four times as large. California being 163,707 square miles, compared to 93,026 to the UK. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

  61. Whorst, you are committing the all too typical American error of confusing England with the United Kingdom.

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  63. Well Brewdog seem to be listening to you Mark.

    Still like the theatre and mentality of beer in a bottle.