It’s commonly known that most craft breweries bottle their beer. A vast majority of them would never even consider canning their masterpiece. It’s usually more of a difficult process and one that many believe is less classy than bottling. A few interesting (and a little bit crazy) breweries, however, have decided to primarily can their products.
This is a double edged sword. As I mentioned earlier, many people believe that canning makes their brew less gourmet and more on par with Pabst Blue Ribbon and the like. But, those who decide to can their brew know something that their slightly more snobby counterparts don’t. People love cans. It’s proven fact. I’d much rather hold a can than a bottle. Also, who doesn’t love tall boys? I don’t want to know this person. The reason I first tried the brews I’m going to mention later was based solely on the fact that they were bold enough to can and because many of them have inventive and often times hilarious and eye catching artwork covering the cans. Plus, the people running these breweries seem a little crazy (in a good way) as well.
A big reason for canning is so that these bold breweries can make a name for themselves in a sea of craft breweries. According to the Brewers Association of America, there are 1,525 breweries (including the big boys) in the U.S. That’s the highest number in 100 years. Craft breweries produced just under 9 million barrels in 2008 and bring in an average of $6.3 billion dollars every year. So, it’s rather important to find a way to stand out.
Butternuts Beer and Ale of Garrettsville, New York is a brewery willing to think outside the box. Or rather, outside of the bottle. “The canning idea came about while we were building the brewery,” says owner and operator Chuck Williamson. “At the time, cask canning systems had a five head in line filler new to the market. It fit the size of our operation perfect and was a very affordable option. We decided to go with the cans based on market strategy and cost of goods. It is also a better container for beer and has less of an impact on the environment. ” Along with canning, Butternuts is well known for it’s off-beat product names and brightly colored cans. “As for the names, we wanted to be a bit edgy and wanted to incorporate the fun side of the farm brewery. Put it all together and we ended up making an impression enough to be in business today.”
The Surly Brewing Company in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota is another prime example of how a brewery is changing things up by canning high quality beer in flashy, trendy and artsy containers. My friend Mike, who lives in Minneapolis, was nice enough to bring me a tall boy of their Furious Ale (6.2% ABV). The first thing that I noticed was the bright red, white, black and grey can. The artwork-which is the logo for the company- depicts a happy face with a full beer on the top and a sad face with an empty beer at the bottom. The beer itself is dark amber in color and very hoppy and thirst quenching. It’s very reminiscent of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, which I like because that’s my favorite beer.
(Surly Tall Boys on the Great Wall of China. Now, that’s livin’.)
The other brews available from the Surly Brewing Company are equally as quirky and delicious. Along with Furious, they also make Bender Oatmeal Brown Ale (5.1% ABV) and Cynic Ale (6.5% ABV) which are available year round. They also brew nine seasonal ales and are always working on something new. Much like the folks at DogFish Head Brewery, it’s always refreshing to see brewers pushing the limit in constant conquest of something new.
For more information, visit: www.surlybrewing.com
Here is another brewery bucking the bottle trend, as well as a little more information about Butternuts Beer and Ale:
Oskar Blues Cajun Grill and Brewery of Lyons, Colorado is home to two staples of the canned craft beer industry. Old Chub Scottish Strong Ale (8% ABV) and Dale’s Pale Ale (6.5% ABV) are the first canned craft beers I ever saw and are available all across the U.S.
For more information, visit: www.oskarblues.com
Butternuts Beer and Ale is home to some of my favorite beers and like I mentioned before, they also happen to can all of their products. Porkslap Pale Ale (4.3% ABV), Moo Thunder Stout (4.9% ABV), Snapperhead IPA (6.3% ABV) and Heinnieweiss Weissbier (4.9% ABV) all have eye popping and bright artwork adorning their cans and are all delicious and finely crafted.
For more information, visit: www.butternutsbeerandale.com
Each of these breweries is run by passionate people who realize that you don’t have to be snobby to make great beer. What do you think about craft beer in cans? Do you think it’s a good idea or is it just smaller breweries trying to make a name for themselves by being trendy? Leave a comment or throw me an email: email@example.com
30 year old freelance writer and The Father Life‘s resident beer columnist and sports editor. He also writes about fine beverages for drinkingmadeeasy.com and Chilled Magazine. On top of that, he writes about college and professional lacrosse for insidelacrosse.com. He’s also written for Genesee Valley Parenting Magazine, the Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper and ESPN.com. “Osburn on Tap” appears monthly in THE FATHER LIFE. For questions, comments, or if you have a story idea for Chris, throw him an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on twitter http://www.twitter.com/chrisosburn