Tap This: Craft beer industry has taken the can back from macro-breweries
The craft beer industry continues to grow, and with it, the canning of beer expands. What started as a way for breweries to stand out over there bottled beer counterparts has now moved into new and exciting territory. The canned beer movement has become a staple for fresh beer with many of the most sought after IPAs in the country being sold in cans.
The beer can was once thought of as a sub-par packaging choice and one that was left for only the big breweries to use. As some craft breweries such as Oskar Blues began canning their beer, drinkers were unsure about the cans’ quality due to the longtime view many held about cans only containing bland, watered-down macro beer. However, their viewpoint seems archaic in today’s market.
Many, if not nearly all, craft breweries offer a canned version of a beer to coincide with a bottled version of the same beer or use cans exclusively for their beer releases. The movement over the past few years has taken the can back from the big breweries and craft brewers have used it to their advantage.
Many of the “hot” brewers in today’s craft beer market do limited can releases of their beers. Brewers such as Sole, Tree House, Tired Hands and Magnify Brewing have limited releases of some beers every few weeks. These beers are canned on site, typically in a blank silver can with label sticker placed on it. These releases will have drinkers anxiously waiting in line for hours to get their hands on world-class beers.
Left out of canning for some time were certain beer styles. When the trend first took off it was mainly pale ales, IPAs, pilsners, and other lighter American beer styles that were canned. The idea of canning some “fancier” styles such as Belgian beers and barrel aged brews seemed laughable. In fact, many breweries used to issue fake press releases with an announcement of a new canned beer featuring styles that no one would ever dream of canning. However, this has all changed.
Even the famous Delirium Tremens of Belgian company Huyghe Brewery has received the canning treatment. The can has now become a staple for breweries.
As the use of the can has grown, the sheer volume of delicious beers available in cans has grown with it. So as summer begins, a great beer in a can is the best way to get out and soak up the summer sun. Here is a short list of some incredible beers currently available in cans:
Founders Brewing — All Day IPA: Session beers came on strong a few years ago as the demand grew for beers with a little less punch from ABV. Founders released their All Day IPA as a full flavored and hop forward IPA at 4.7% ABV. The balance is phenomenal in this beer that still packs a strong hop punch. This is one of the best beers to pack up for a wonderful afternoon with friends whether relaxing by the pool or hiking in the woods.
Night Shift Brewing — Whirlpool: Night Shift Brewing is another darling brewery in the New England region. Located in Everett, Mass. right outside of Boston, the brewery has steadily grown and brewed some truly excellent beers. One of their most widely available is this 4.5% ABV American pale ale. The hazy look, juicy quality, and full flavor punch make this a great beer for all beer lovers. A trip to their brewery is a must for a great summer road trip.
Carton Brewing Company — 077xx: There are few better beers than a well brewed DIPA, and Carton’s 077xx, or o’dub as it is lovingly called, is truly one of the best. The New Jersey brewery has a wide array of phenomenal beers but o’dub is one of the best. The 7.8% ABV is undetectable to the tongue and this DIPA truly drinks like a session beer with an onslaught of hop flavor and aromas. Notes of tropical fruits such as mangoes intermingle with citrus notes backing a strong hop resin punch with a crisp malt backbone that leaves the perfect bone-dry finish IPAs possessed by all world-class IPAs. If you have not had this beer and love IPAs, go get some now!
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery — Cream Ale: Cream ales seem to be a sadly overlooked style by many in the craft beer industry. However, there ae few styles that are more refreshing and enjoyable on a hot summer day than a well brewed cream ale. Hardywood’s is certainly one of the best with a light 4.5% ABV, it brings forth a strong creamy quality that is a must try. This not only a great cream ale but was also brewed as a tribute to the first canned beer. In 1935, Richmond, Va., where Hardywood is located, became the first place ever to sell canned beer, a cream ale from Krueger Brewing Company.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.