Is this the end for beer stubbies?
Is this the death of glass bottles?
The great debate over beer cans or beer bottles continues to rage, but it appears that cans might come out on top.
Craft brewers have been working to eradicate the stigma associated with cans for some time now, proving that cans are superior to bottles in nearly every way. In fact, many independent beer makers are phasing out stubbies and installing canning lines in their breweries, with groovy labels to match, of course (see Pirate Life cans below).
According to the Brewers Association 2017 Nielsen Craft Insights Panel, smaller craft brewers have shifted much more heavily towards cans than larger craft brewers. The association notes that this is likely due to the fact that "many of the [smaller] brewers started out by installing a canning line rather than a bottling line, whereas larger craft brewers started in an era when that would have been practically unheard of," the Brewers Association noted.
“Cans have taken share in the past few years as they have grown faster than bottles…[with] smaller brewers moving more forcefully into cans," it added.
Indeed, Michael Collins, co-founder of Adelaide-based craft brewing company Pirate Life, believes that cans are superior to bottles for a number of reasons.
“If you put a big, hoppy beer in a can then that can will slow down the rate that those flavours will deteriorate,” Collins told The Advertiser.
Pirate Life, deemed ‘kings’ of the Australian craft beer scene, puts all of its nine varieties of beer into cans, with Collins arguing that it’s a complete myth that consumers can ‘taste the tin’ from canned beer.
“If anyone says that then they’re full of crap,” he said. “And you can quote me on that. The way the cans are made these days, there’s no way you can taste anything in the beer.”
The cool Pirate Life can designed by @steen_jones.
That’s because beer cans are lined on the inside, and the beer actually never comes in contact with metal. Rather, it’s our smell senses that prevail, meaning that when drinking directly from the can, the smell of metal interferes with our taste buds. Experts say an easy solution is to use cup if it is particularly bothersome.
Head brewer at South Australian craft beer company Mismatch Brewing Co, Ewan Brewerton also believes the advantages of cans over glass are numerous.
“The seal on cans is foolproof,” Brewerton told The Advertiser. “No light can touch a beer in a can, and it’s light that causes skunking (unappealing flavour),” he said, adding that: “Aluminium can be recycled forever, whereas glass can only be recycled a few times.”
Brewerton also emphasises that the lightness of cans means a reduction in shipping costs and the subsequent carbon footprint.
Mountain Goat co-founder Cam Hines believes that consumers will eventually be won over by the portability and the value of tinnies.
“We can get 100 cartons of cans on to a standard CHEP pallet, versus 65 cartons of 330ml bottles, so it’s cheaper to transport and at decent volumes cheaper to produce than bottled beer as well," Hines told the Financial Review.
While bottles probably won’t completely disappear from shelves, the evidence that cans offer far more advantages by way of quality and convenience are indisputable. Plus, with more craft breweries ordering canning lines than ever before, you’re going to be seeing a lot more tinnies around.
Tooheys releases limited edition retro can
Tooheys New also recently brought back its iconic 30-pack of classic cans for a limited time.
Tooheys product manager Tom Bills said: “We reckon they’re a big old ‘cheers’ and a nod to the values of our drinkers back in the day, you know the kind – mateship, honesty and loyalty – cracking values that continue to remain important to Aussies today.”
The benefits of canned beer summarised:
• Aluminium recycles more productively than glass.
• No UV light can get into a can.
• Cans chill faster than bottles.
• Cans take up less space and are easier to store.
• Cans are more suitable for the ‘quintessential’ Aussie lifestyle, catered to beach-goers, camping, hiking, picnics, boating, and more.
• Cans are sealed with nitrogen with no chance of air to oxidize the contents, while with bottles, which are purged with CO2, there’s a small chance of oxidation due to the seal between cap and bottle.
Cover image source: The Craft Beer Market.