Why are beer cans good?

Craft beer can of Union Duckpin pale ale
More and more craft breweries, including Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewing, have committed themselves to cans over bottles.
For the last several decades, beer cans have been one of the main ways that consumers have been able to enjoy beer. 

And ever since day one, there seems to be an ongoing argument among craft beer drinkers between the superiority of cans versus bottles. 

Cans, it’s argued, give the beer a metallic taste, while bottles can break, or let light in and ruin the beer. Both seem to have their drawbacks, yet craft brewers seem to be moving to cans with increasingly rapid adoption.

We reached out to Gary, a long-time friend of ours, for some answers.

Gary is the President of Operations for Shupan Industrial Recycling, one of the largest recyclers in the United States, and a major player in aluminum can recycling. 
Just to give you an idea of their scale, in Michigan alone, they recycle 2-3 billion aluminum cans each year. That’s a lot of beer cans! 

According to Gary, an aluminum can will be recycled an indefinite number of times, since aluminum is infinitely recyclable. So the can of beer you’re enjoying today could be holding beer 100 years from now. Mind-blowing, right?

Today’s breweries are canning beer in 12oz, 16oz and even a 32oz can called a “Crowler”.

“The best use of a recycled aluminum can is for it to be made back into a new aluminum can. Some cans will make it into other products, but more than 90% end up as a new aluminum can.” Gary goes on to explain that the chemistry of an aluminum can is quite delicate, and new cans must meet strict FDA guidelines. 

Ready for some real numbers? Recycling 1 aluminum can will save the equivalent energy of burning an incandescent light bulb for 4 hours, or can run an average television for 3 hours! So if you recycle that 6-pack, you’ve powered your TV for a full day of sports, or nine movies. 

So why is there still a stigma on aluminum cans? “Testing shows there is no taste difference when beer is consumed from an aluminum can. There is actually a food-grade coating inside the can, so the beer never even touches the aluminum. The coating is thicker for soda otherwise the acid in the soda will eat through the aluminum. Beer is colder in an aluminum can, and it holds the temperature longer than any other container.”

We even asked about those fancy aluminum bottles that have shown up the last few years. “Aluminum bottles are more costly to produce, and are therefore more expensive for the consumer. They have been more popular than the industry projected, especially at trendy clubs, etc.”

Now the really important question – what kind of canned beer does Gary like? “I am now very partial to a pint can of Bell’s Two Hearted IPA.” Good call! 

So the next time someone snubs their nose at a can of craft beer, feel free to pass on some knowledge their way. The crack open that can, and enjoy the fresh taste of quality beer.

Cheers!

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