Believe it or not, the beer can is only 82 years old. While cans are now a fixture at bars, barbeques and in bottle shops, beer was only first put into cans in 1935, when New Jersey’s Krueger Brewing Co. trialled them for its “cream ale”. They were a hit and led to soda manufacturers adopting the container too.
In the intervening years a number of changes and improvements to the original can came about, from better linings to prevent the metallic taste associated with the packaging, to more convenient openers.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s that canning lines – a brewery’s in-house machinery that makes cans and fills them with beer–became available to young brewers. The first craft brewery to can beer was Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewery. It wasn’t until 2012 that Sydney’s Australian Brewery installed the first craft-canning line in this country.
The appeal of cans is obvious to Jim Hollars, Certified Cicerone and Lion Craft Beer Ambassador.
“Cans are lighter, weigh just over half that of bottles, cool more quickly and stack on top of each other so they take up less room in the fridge,” he says. “And not being glass, they get craft beer into events such as music festivals where glass is banned.”
There are benefits for brewers, too. “Used properly cans are better containers for beer,” says Hollars.
“They protect the beer from oxygen and light much better than bottles. And now brewers are using the space the containers provide to create eye-catching labels to increases their appeal as well.”
As convenient as cans are, Hollars says if you really want to enjoy the flavours a glass is still a must.
“It’s always best to pour your can into a glass because your sense of smell equates to 75 per cent of your perception of flavour. A glass helps you really enjoy and appreciate all of the flavours.”
Here’s six craft cans to try this summer.
Pirate Life Mosaic IPA
With the great majority of its beer sold in cans over even draught beer, South Australia’s Pirate Life Brewery shows that cans are a great business strategy. The artwork on the can is eye-catching on the shelves, but as with anything Pirate Life, it’s the hops that tell the story. This is a big beer made on Mosaic hops, so expect citrus and berries over a bold base.
Little Creatures Dog Days Summer Ale
This punchy summer ale is ideal for summer. Peaches and tropical fruit flavours sit over the slightly resinous body (which hits 30 IBUs), but with a crisp malt profile balancing it out, it’s a top summer refresher.
Green Beacon 3 Bolt Pale Ale
Brisbane’s Green Beacon Brewery only brews in cans and has been taking awards regularly for the quality and consistency of its beers. 3 Bolt is a great example of why – an American-style pale ale of impeccable balance.
Colonial Brewing Co.’s Pale Ale
A medium-bodied beer with hints of plum, biscuit, nougat and nut malt throughout, Melbourne’s Colonial Brewing Co. have crafted a lush pale ale with hints of passionfruit, pine and “spicy” botanics. Perhaps most distinctive is its vessels unusually large mouth – the ring-pull takes nearly the entire lid of the can off, leaving more a mug than a traditional tinnie.
James Squire 150 Lashes
This light-bodied Australian ale with hints of citrus and a balanced bitterness is Australia’s biggest-selling craft beer and has been the introduction to ales for many of the new generation of beer drinkers. Cans get it into an even wider range of situations. Now also with a new design and available in six, ten and 24 packs.
Bent Spoke Brewing Barley Griffin
Showing four great trends in craft brew – good beer, cans, great design and a puntastic name – ACT’s Bent Spoke Brewing nails it with this hazy straw-coloured Australian ale. It’s as light and crisp as any good summer session beer should be, but with full flavour.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with James Squire.