Beer in cans is not new to the world in general, but canned beer in the craft beer world is a growing phenomenon. Craft beer brewers have had to re-educate their consumers to the virtues of canning beer as opposed to bottling ever since Oskar Blues Brewing started the trend in the early 2000’s.
Because canned beer is most closely identified with the low quality, mass-produced brews of the mega producers, craft brewers have been wary of switching from bottles to cans. But, over the past few years, more and more brews have decided to take the plunge and invest in a canning set-up. Most notably among these new pioneers is Sierra Nevada, which is canning both its Pale Ale and Torpedo IPA.
So, what are the advantages of cans vs. bottles? Other than the comfort factor consumers have in glass bottles, cans really have many more pluses than bottles. When you consider the fact that bottles are fragile, heavy, and do not provide a complete light barrier, you begin to see the wisdom in using aluminum. Broken bottles are costly, their weight causes higher shipping charges, and light, well you know the havoc it can cause with beer. On the other hand, aluminum cans are durable, light weight, and provide a completely impenetrable light barrier. And, to head off any talk of metallic taste, modern beer cans are coated so that the beer never touches the metal.
The result of using cans over bottles is a win/win situation. Brewers win because cans are light-weight, easy to fill, and cost less than bottles. Consumers win because their beer is fresher, completely protected from air intrusion, and equally protected from becoming light-struck.
It is estimated that the number of craft brewers canning their beer is approaching 100. Other sources maintain the number is more like 80. Either way, there are more and more breweries jumping on the canning band wagon. According to Team Hopheads, there are at least eight breweries with canned craft beer available in the Jacksonville market. Breweries such as the already mentioned Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues are joined by Abita, Magic Hat, Shiner, Brooklyn, and Crispin Hard Cider.
Newly added to the list of breweries that offer canned brews is Jacksonville’s Intuition Ale Works. Intuition has the additional distinction of being the first brewery in Florida to can their brews. And if the sales they have been seeing from the canned beers are any indication, the beer-loving public of Jacksonville has no problem whatsoever purchasing canned craft brews. Sales at the Tap Room of canned Intuition beer have been brisk for some time now. It is not unusual to see several cases leave the building in just a few minutes on a Friday or Saturday afternoon. But, the response that the cans received when released to retailers was simply amazing. On the first two days the beer was available in cans, Total Wine at the St. John’s Town Center had sold over 50 cases.
Currently Intuition is canning three varieties of beers; Jon Boat, People’s Pale Ale, and I-10 IPA. These three brews are by far the brewery’s best sellers and should become even more popular now that they are readily available away from a beer tap or growler.
Cans have come a long way from the old cone-tops and pull tabs; they have become true works of modern engineering worthy of our praise and awe. Without the can, its portability and safety where would we be as a society? No one can truly answer that question, but it is safe to bet, without cans beer would be a little more cumbersome to carry and you would not get to hear that satisfy “Pfffst!” sound as you popped one open.