Tim Hampson's Beer Blog

The quest for the perfect beer

Canned beer comes of age

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Felinfoel cans

The canning of beer has really come of age for quality brews.

Canned beer came to the UK since the 1930s when Welsh brewer Felinfoel stole a march on its competition by being the first in the country to can one of its beers.

Canning was already being used in the States and I think it was Krueger’s Cream Ale which was the first.

However, for decades canning has been regarded as rather down market and only suitable for pile it high sell it cheap beers in supermarkets.

Convenient? Yes. Easy to dispose of? Yes. And the quality of the beer? Hmmm.

Well now some of British brewers are showing that quality beers and cans do go together.

In May of last year, Camden Town Brewery became the first “microcanner” in England. The brewery cans its own Hells Lager and two beers it brews for the Byron Hamburgers eateries. This autumn it will can two more beers.

Fourpure Brewing and Beavertown Brewery have now both bought canning lines too and the people at Them that Can will soon be offering a mobile canning line for use by smaller brewers.

Fourpure is the first craft brewer to shift from bottles to cans for its core beers, and who can blame them.

Fourpure’s can sales have far surpassed its 2013 bottled sales. “In our first month,” says brewery co-founder Daniel Lowe said, “our cans doubled our historic bottle sales. The second month they quadrupled them.”

And it is not just supermarkets that are selling beer in cans. Plenty of pubs, including JD Wetherspoon are getting in on the act. And for the first time a canned beer is likely to be served at this year’s British Guild of Beer Writers annual awards dinner.

Logan Plant with cans, low-res (800x800) Logan Plant, pictured, founder of Beavertown, said his bottle use is waning. “I’m looking to push bottles out but for a few specialty beers,”

Plant said. “The acceptance of our cans has been amazing. We started up our canning line in May and cans have already become 65 per cent of our sales, while bottles are just seven per cent.”

Plant says his richly flavored canned beers benefit from the freshness-keeping power of aluminum cans.

“We use a lot of US hops in our beers, with those big resiny and tropical flavours. The only way to look after them is to shove them in a can. I don’t think a bottle is up to the task,” said Plant.

Cask founder Peter Love, whose company makes canning lines said canned craft beer is the hottest craft beer package in North America.

He said: “The segment is just beginning in England, but it’s starting much, much faster than it did in the US.

“Cans provide complete protection from light and oxygen, a fresh beer’s biggest enemies. Cans are also highly portable, welcome in places bottles are not, and easily and infinitely recyclable.”

These can benefits and others, including reduced shipping and fuel costs due to their light weight have fueled the massive rise of American canned craft beer.

It was the Oskar Blues Brewery & Pub, in Colorado, USA that was the first of the new wave of brewers to turn to cans in 2002.  The brewpub’s savvy efforts turned it into one of the fastest-growing breweries in the US.

According to the Brewers Association (the US trade group for craft brewers), more than 10 per cent of America’s nearly 3,000 small and independent craft brewers are canning all or some of their beers.

A US website, CraftCans.com, lists about 1,500 canned craft beers from 418 US craft breweries, in a wide array of different beer styles.

www.cask.com .

Tim Hampson’s Tweets can be found @beerhero

His published work includes The Beer Book, World Beer, Haynes Beer Manual, Haynes Whisky Manual, Eyewitness Companion Beer, Great Beers, 101 Beer Days Out, London’s Riverside Pubs, London’s Best Pubs, London’s Best Style Bars, Room at the Inn.

He is currently chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.


Written by timhampson

October 16, 2014 at 10:57 am

Posted in Beavertown, Canning

One Response

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  1. Great post

    “Cans provide complete protection from light and oxygen, a fresh beer’s biggest enemies”

    There has been some concern about the use of the cheaper canning line that they maybe not as effective. I suppose time will tell


    October 16, 2014 at 11:22 am

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