Thursday, October 23, 2014


A fridge full of beer from Sun King Brewery. (Eric Strader)

Brewery Vivant Farm Hand in a can (Eric Strader)

My beer fridge, which includes canned beer. (Eric Strader)

Canned beer from Oskar Blues (Eric Strader)

Bell's Oberon and Two Hearted in cans at Chalet Party Shoppe (Eric Strader)

Two Brothers Brewing canned beer (Eric Strader)

Canned beer from Finches Beer Company (Eric Strader)

Six Point Brewery 4-packs of cans (Eric Strader)

Petoskey Brewing Horny Monk in a can (Eric Strader)

Surly Coffee Bender comes in cans also. Surly Brewing is one of my favorite breweries, and they offer almost all of their beer in cans. (Eric Strader)
Canned beer gains popularity at craft breweries around the country

Posted on May 26, 2014 at 9:34 a.m.

Eric Strader writes about the craft beer scene in Indiana and Michigan. He's a dad, husband, potter, soccer coach and special education paraprofessional who likes to read, bike, hike and canoe. You can read more from him in his community blog for The Elkhart Truth, Hop Notes.

Even though school is still in session for most of us, Memorial Day weekend has always signaled the beginning of summer for me. I do love winter, but after this past season of bitter cold and snow, we do deserve some fine warm summer weather.

Some of you may be surprised to hear me say this, but beer in a can is becoming much more widely accepted, and it's a great choice for summer. Canned beer has taken a bad rap for long enough.

The biggest misconception about canned beer is that it tastes bad – specifically that it has a metallic taste. However, if you think about it, most of us drink draft beer from a metal keg at the local bar. The cans and lids used for most craft breweries are sprayed with a coating that protects the beer from this metallic taste. Beer is also better protected from two of its bitter enemies – light and oxygen, which can cause off flavors of their own.

Cans are better for our environment – they chill more quickly than bottles, they do not break as easily and they weigh less, so it costs less and takes less energy to transport them. In addition, they are much easier to take into the great outdoors. Many parks and beaches do not allow glass, so cans are perfect for your summer fun – and who wants to risk broken glass around the pool?

Here is a partial list touting the benefits of canned beer, found on Indeed Brewing Company’s website

  • Tossing a can of beer to a buddy is more fun than throwing a bottle that has the potential to become a beer bomb complete with blinding shrapnel.
  • After you drink a can of beer, you can shoot it with your BB gun over and over again and still not have a mess to clean up.
  • You can stack them into a pyramid or maybe a castle.
  • They make a really great cracking noise when you open them.
  • Does crushing an empty can ever get old? OK, maybe when you do it on your forehead.
  • You can play the flick the pop tab game with an empty can of Indeed
  • When compared to bottles, cans have lower oxygen levels (period!)
  • Full cans of beer are hard to break. So next time you are juggling Junior, the groceries and a six pack of Indeed while trying to get into the car, go ahead and drop the six-pack – Junior does not need to be a sacrificial lamb.
  • Cans are better for the environment than bottles, as they are lighter to transport, thereby making them use less fuel. They are also fully recyclable. Aluminum cans are turned into more aluminum, unlike bottles, which are ground up and used to make roads. Roads suck when compared to more cans of Indeed.
  • Beer does not like light. Except for the brief time it spends in your pint glass, it prefers to be in the pitch black. Too much light and beer becomes skunky, yuck.
  • Cans are completely opaque. Except for radio waves and neutrinos, cans let absolutely no light past their thin aluminum skins, keeping your beer tasting like it should. Delicious!

With more and more craft breweries offering their beer in cans, our local choices are growing as well. So as you get ready for your summer fun, here are some great choices available locally for canned beer.

I'll start with breweries that ONLY can their beer – no bottling for these guys.

One of the original canning breweries is Oskar Blues, which joined our distribution area last October. Founder and owner Dale Katechis made a daring decision in 2002 to put his bold and flavorful Dale’s Pale Ale in a can. Now the brewery’s full lineup, including one of the best  Russian Imperial Stouts – Ten Fidy (10.5% ABV, IBUs 98) – is offered in cans. Here is what you can find locally – Dale’s Pale Ale (6.5% ABV, IBUs 65), Deviant Dale’s IPA (8% ABV, IBUs 85 ), Gubna (imperial IPA, 10% ABV, IBUs 100+), Mamas Little Yella Pils (Czech pilsner, 5.3% ABV, IBUs 35) and G’Knight (dry hopped imperial red ale, 8.7% ABV, IBUs 60).  

We have several breweries right here in Indiana that only offer cans, and the most notable one is Sun King Brewing out of Indianapolis. You can currently find Ring of Dingle (Dry Irish Stout, 4.8% ABV, IBUs 34), Fist Full of Hops (spring-green label, 6.4% ABV, IBUs 75), Wee Mac (Scottish style ale, 5.3% ABV, IBUs 23), Osiris (pale ale, 5.6% ABV, IBUs 50) and Sunlight Cream Ale (5.3% ABV, IBUs 20) in local bottle (or should I say can?) shops.

Two Brothers Brewing out of Warrenville, Ill., offers Side Kick Extra Pale Ale (5.1% ABV, IBUs 36.1), Outlaw IPA (6.3% ABV, IBUs 60), Night Cat (dark hoppy wheat beer, 5.8% ABV, IBUs 43.2) and Dog Days (Dortmunder style lager, 5.1% ABV, IBUs 17) in cans.

Finches Beer Company out of Chicago offers Wet Hot American Wheat (5% ABV), Fascist Pig (imperial red ale, 8% ABV) and US Beer Open Gold Medal winner Secret Stache (robust stout, 5.3% ABV) in cans.

Six Point Brewery, located in Brooklyn, offers Resin (imperial IPA, 9.1% ABV, IBUs 103) and 3 Beans (imperial coffee porter, 10% ABV, IBUs 85) in cans.

Established breweries that are now entering the canning market include Founders Brewing Co., with All Day IPA (4.7% ABV, IBUs 42) and Centennial IPA (7.2% ABV, IBUs 75), and Bell’s Brewery, with Two Hearted (IPA, 7% ABV) and Oberon (American wheat ale, 5.8% ABV).

If you head up north to Michigan, your options get even larger, with breweries like Brewery Vivant, Keweenaw Brewing Company, Latitude 42, Blackrocks Brewery, Petoskey Brewing Co., Right Brain Brewing Co. and more offering canned beers.

And just to prove I practice what I preach, I included a photo of my beer fridge, which currently holds cans from NoDa Brewing, Brewery Vivant, Sun King Brewing and a few cans of Heady Topper (imperial IPA, 8% ABV, IBUs 75).

So what are you waiting for? Fire up the grill, load the inner tubes into the car, pack up the camping gear or whatever it is you do for summer fun.  And don’t forget to put the cans in the cooler.

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