Nice Cans

This story begins, as so many great ones do, with, “So the other night I was at a bar” enjoying a glass of Revival when I heard a conversation over my shoulder. It was the typical conversation I’ve had with non-craft beer friends. “What beers do you like? Do you like light or dark beers? Do you like bitter beers?” Questions all designed to help convert the novice beer drinker to the rebel alliance that is the craft beer community. In the middle of the conversation, I heard a phrase that was like the needle being ripped off a record. 

“If it’s in a can, stay away.”

Whoa, wait a second, what? Sounds like someone didn’t do their homework. The phrase may have been a little known truth 20 years ago, but it certainly is not the case these days. Every week, it seems, I hear another craft brewery is releasing their sweet elixir of life in cans. You probably already know that local greats such as Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, Foolproof, Newport Storm and Narragansett are readily available in cans. But larger craft breweries are starting to can as well. Sierra Nevada has their Torpedo in 16 oz. tallboys, which I highly recommend if you like hoppy beers. Recently announced, and in typical Sam Adams fashion, a custom can has been developed to deliver a taste experience close to that of glass for their standard Boston Lager and seasonal favorite, Summer Ale. Craft beer favorites such as Sixpoint, Brooklyn, Harpoon, Oskar Blues and 21st Amendment all have cans on most local store shelves. And, of course, the big boys in the BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) crowd are all still available and have contributed significantly to canning technology. To add to the list, my cousin brought me a six pack of canned Alteration Ale made by Hops and Grain Brewing of Austin, TX, in his checked luggage. For some reason, I sent him home with a couple of growlers from Trinity instead of easy-to-pack cans, but that’s another story.

Cans are gaining such popularity that even mead is available in a can now. Redstone Meadery out of Colorado offers their Sunshine Nectar, Black Raspberry Nectar and Nectar of the Hops all in 500 ml cans. If you love honey wine as much as I do, you’ll be happy to hear that Redstone is available on this coast. The bad news is that it may take a bit of searching to find them.

Mobile canning operations are starting to pop up in the US – 15 to date. The premise is simple. Put a canning line on the back of a truck, pull up to a brewery and can their beer. This could be a very attractive option for small breweries that don’t want to spend six figures for a permanent canning line or don’t have enough space for such an operation. Most of these operations are based in California, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. Not much surprise there, considering the popularity and size of craft beer in that part of the country.

So what about the metallic taste you get with cans? Well, recent years have seen the development of water-based coating that keeps the beer tasting brewery fresh. Of course, if you drink it out of the can directly you may taste a bit of aluminum because your lips are touching the metal. Most breweries that can their beer recommend you pour the beer into a glass for the optimal experience.

So why this rising trend toward canning? Cans have a number of advantages that bottles don’t.  1) They’re better than brown glass at keeping UV rays out, which means no more skunking. 2) The seal is tighter than that of a bottle, which means the beer stays fresher, longer. 3) Cans are cheaper for the breweries and the distributors. 4) They don’t break. 5) They cool faster. Remember your high school physics lessons? Glass is an insulator, metal is a conductor. 6) Cans cost less to recycle than bottles. 7) When you’re done you can crush cans, which makes it easier to pack out if you’re in the middle of the woods. 8) Almost all beaches don’t allow glass, but some allow beer. 9) Most importantly, they stack easier in your fridge.

So the next time you’re out at your local packy getting some beer for a long hike, a day on the lake, a camping trip or even a day at the beach, think about grabbing some canned beer.  

Mix-a-Six

Notes and Happenings from Around the State

Newport Storm Luau – An annual favorite, the Newport Storm Luau will happen on August 17 at the Fort Adams State Park with proceeds going to benefit the Fort Adams Trust. In addition to the awesome Newport Storm brews that will be there, Doherty’s will be on hand with a roasted pig. Sounds like good eatin’ to me! For information and tickets visit NewportStorm.com. 

Fireman’s Brew Expansion – Los Angeles-based Fireman’s Brew signed a deal with distributors Johnson Brothers of Rhode Island to bring their beer to the Ocean State. RI counts as the 6th state outside of California to carry Fireman’s Brew. Fireman’s Brew also donates a portion of their proceeds to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. To find out where you can get some, visit FiremansBrew.com. 

RI Brewfest Summer Fest Edition – Matt over at Gray Matter Marketing is at it again. This summer brew fest will be held at Ninigret Park in Charleston on August 10. There will be two sessions and the same ticket structure as the winter fest. All the breweries in the RI Brewers Guild will be in attendance as well as the RI Brewing Society, Craft Brews Supplies of Wyoming, RI, and many other local vendors. Ticket prices will rise as the event approaches, so get your tickets now. Visit RIBrewfest.com for more information and to buy tickets. 

Liberty Fest – Taste all of the great brews from the basement brew haus and celebrate the nation’s birthday. There will be beers such as Double IPA and Belgian Saison and Dark Mild, as well as Red, White and Blue Sangria. Ginger Beer; and Mojito Pop will be on hand for the non-beer drinkers. July 4 at Noon, Calverly & West Park Street.

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