Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why Cans? A Six-Pack of Good Reasons

San Francisco's 21st Amendment Brewery distributes all of their beers in cans, and according to the carton that a recent six-pack I purchased came in, here are six reasons why:
  1. Cans use less energy to produce, to transport and to chill.
  2. Cans are easier to recycle and recycled more often than glass.
  3. Exposure to light ruins a good beer—cans keep the light out and the good in.
  4. Cans are lined so they don't affect the flavor of the beer.
  5. Feel that? Cans weigh less than glass.
  6. Cans go where glass is banned—pools, beaches, boats, golf courses, stadiums, parks.
#5 has always been my favorite reason, especially when picking up a six-pack on my way home from work, but #6 is a good one as well, although I'm a little skeptical it's as easy as it sounds. #3 is the reason that, when I home brew, I always use dark brown bottles, and I never buy beer bottled in clear or green glass either. But, now they're saying that aluminum works even better at keeping harmful light out of beer, and it makes sense to me.

Of course, the environmental reasons are good ones too. One I'll add is that cans take up less space in the refrigerator, particularly those that don't have shelves high enough to store bottled beer standing up. This advantage has me considering making permanent my recent decision to purchase nothing but canned beer for the next few months.

This recent quest has led me to 21st Amendment's offerings on several occasions. So far, I've picked up six-packs of their Brew Free or Die IPA, Fireside Chat, and Back in Black.

Brew Free or Die is one that I tried for the first time this past summer. Back then I described it as very well-balanced, as an IPA should be, but not as overwhelming citrusy as some of my favorites in this style. I'd say that evaluation still holds. It's simply a very good IPA, but not one that knocks my socks off.

Fireside Chat is a strong (7.9%) winter spiced ale. I purchased a six-pack over Thanksgiving weekend, at a little cheese and craft beer store in Rhinebeck, just outside of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's hometown of Hyde Park, New York. So, I thought it was an appropriate time to purchase a beer that's named after FDR's depression-era radio addresses and features the likeness of our 32nd president on the can.

I'm usually a little wary of spiced winter ales, and, unfortunately, this one did nothing to help me overcome that particular fear. I recently shared a few with friends, though, who seemed to like it, so the one can still remaining in my refrigerator will represent Fireside Chat's second chance to win me over.

Back in Black is what 21st Amendment calls a Black IPA, which is a bit of an oxymoron, considering the P in IPA stands for pale. Still, I was quite pleased with this one, a richer, but also slightly mellower, version of their standard IPA.

In addition to 21st Amendment, two other breweries seem to dominate the canned craft beer available in local stores around here. Those are Lyons, Colorado's Oskar Blues Brewery and Garrattsville, New York's Butternuts Beer and Ale. If you frequent this blog regularly, you'll surely be reading more about those two microbreweries in the coming months.


  1. On a tangential note...Did you get a chance to try Sierra Nevada's 30th Anniversary brew? One of the few beers I would describe as a perfect 10.

  2. I have to admit Joey that I saw it in the store, but was too cheap to pay the price.

    I'll consider this comment the slap to the side of the head that I needed to finally give it a try, since I know where I can find it.

  3. I remember liking Whale's Tail IPA a bit better than 21st Amendment - and it's also in a can :)

    Love this idea, can't wait to read more can reviews!