A Case for Beer Cans vs. Beer Bottles

beer_cansI love a good full-flavored beer. I have some favorites, of course, and I’m always excited to pick up a new six-pack to try. When all else fails, a compelling brew style and a striking label will catch my attention. And up until now, I mostly avoided canned beer because I perceived it to be inferior. But lately, a few of my local mainstay breweries (Anchor Brewing Company and Anderson Valley Brewing Company) have started offering quality beers in canned form.

The Beer Cans > Beer Bottles Argument

– Cans preserve flavor best. Cans protect beer from light and oxygen, two elements that can spoil the taste. Despite what naysayers claim, aluminum cans really shouldn’t impart any “tinny” taste into the beer. Unless you’re drinking beer that’s FAR beyond it’s “best by” date. Don’t do that.

– Cans are typically made from a higher percentage of recycled material. The average beer can contains 40 percent recycled aluminum, while beer bottles typically only contain 20-30 percent recycled glass. And recycling aluminum cans is much more energy efficient that recycling glass bottles: the accumulated energy savings to recycle a ton of aluminum are 96 percent vs. a mere 26.5 percent for glass. (I found these statistics on Slate.com.)

– Cans are more eco-friendly to ship. Beer cans are lighter than beer bottles, so they demand less fuel to transport from their origin to your neighborhood store.

– Cans are also lighter to carry. Since beer pairs amazingly well with outdoor activities like music festivals, hiking trips, lounging on the beach, and fishing, outdoor lovers often choose cans because of their transportability.

– Cans chill quicker than bottles, making them a great choice for spontaneous beer drinkers.

– Cans are easier to stack in fridge. This will allow you to save space for even more beer, and even some non-beer items. Hint: cheese makes an excellent beer companion.

…and a note about our post-beer-drinking habits:

– About 45 percent of cans are recycled, compared with only 25 percent of bottles (Slate.com). This means beer cans create less trash than beer bottles.

Despite the excellent reasons why we should all drink more beer out of cans, there will always be beer nerds who prefer sipping from bottles. Perhaps it’s the aesthetic, simple as that. But if a shift toward cans can reduce our carbon footprint, even just a little, I’m willing to give it a try. And if cans make it easier to hike while drinking, I’m all in. Plus, adapting to the times and enjoying a tasty beer from a can is just good manners—after all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Question for readers: What’s your favorite beer that comes in a can?


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