Canned Laughter

Oskar Blues: A canned beer pioneer
Oskar Blues: A canned beer pioneer

The first thought that leaps into many folks’ minds when they hear the phrases “canned beer” or “beer in a can” is the proverbial old swill that Pa used to drink after a hard day of work.  Perhaps quite fitting for this Pa character to be sittin’ in his favorite arm chair in a wifebeater watching the boob tube, or out on the porch counting cars.  These days the perception of Pa and his metal-clad accessory is changing thanks to breweries like Oskar Blues Brewing Company of Lyons, Colorado, who started hand-canning their flavorsome microbrews in 2002 and haven’t looked back since.  With full-bodied craft offering such as Dale’s Pale Ale, Old Chub Scottish Ale, and Gordon, a double red IPA, the microbrewer was the first of its kind to can its product. From those days of two-at-a-time hand-canning, OB first thought the idea of putting a “bold, hoppy pale ale” in a can to be humorous and claim it made them “laugh for weeks.”  This pale ale named after main man Dale Katechis changed a lot of misconceptions about canned brews.  Says Katechis: “We discovered that the belief that cans impart flavor to beer is a myth. The modern-day aluminum can and its lid are lined with a water-based coating, so the beer and the can never touch.”  The use of cans on quality brews serve other advantages over bottled brews.  “Cans, we discovered, are actually good for beer. Cans keep beer especially fresh by fully protecting it from light and oxygen. Our cans also hold extremely low amounts of dissolved oxygen, so our beer stays especially fresh for longer. Cans are also easier to recycle and less fuel-consuming to ship.”  Today, the Oskar Blues is still hand-canning their delicious beer, but with a more advanced mechanism that allows for five cans at once to be filled and sealed.

Caldera Brewing Company of Ashland, Oregon began canning their floral, bitterly hopped pale ale in 2005 and now offer their award winning IPA in the same format.  The can-only brewery notes some overwhelming advantages of the format such as “Cans chill quicker and keep the cold longer, are lighter in weight, are easier to store, don’t break, and are easier to construct pyramids and model airplanes from.”

Other breweries are catching on to the advantages of placing their beer in cans. 21st Amendment Brewing of San Francisco, California has been canning it’s Hell of High Watermelon Wheat Ale and Brew Free or Die IPA for a few years and plans on distributing the beer sometime in the next year.  Also, New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado began canning their Fat Tire Amber Ale in May of 2008.  No word on when the can version of this beer will be widely distributed. Stay tuned…