Today is National Beer Can Appreciation Day. Apparently canned beer was born on this day in 1935 in Richmond, Virginia (so says Wikipedia). So the beer can is 81 years old today. I celebrated by drinking a stout in a can. I enjoyed a Silverback Stout from The Unknown Brewing Company in Charlotte, NC. You can read my review of this stout on my Recent Reviews page. The concept of a canned Stout is a relatively recent phenomenon – at least as far as I know – but it’s a welcome one. Traditionally Stouts are bottled in 12, 16.9, or 22 oz. bottles…..and for the most part, the 22 oz. bomber is primarily (although not exclusively) associated with a Stout.
Cans on the other hand, seemed to reside on the other side of the beer neighborhood, living with the lagers, ales, and lighter beers. Cans are associated with portability and travel, as the chance for breakage is practically nil as compared to our trusty friend, the bottle. Cans are simple and need no additional tooling like a bottle opener. Now I do remember the “olden days” when cans didn’t have the pop-top/pull-top and you did require a can opener or church key- but thats in the past and we’ve progressed in our canned beer technology.
Fast forward to the last couple of years and we’re seeing the proliferation of canned beer through the craft beer wave. Some breweries are exclusively canned operations (Oskar Blues for example), while others are dipping their proverbial toes into canning (Founder’s has a few of their offerings in cans). Our friends at The Alchemist in Vermont even go so far to suggest that you drink their Heady Topper from the can – it’s printed on the can!! Even “Crowlers” (large cans) are becoming more popular as another option to a Growler. Crowlers are sealed like regular cans, so the beer can supposedly last longer than in a Growler. There are even companies whose sole mission is mobile canning – a canning operation on wheels and they travel to small breweries who cannot afford to buy their own canning line and turn their batches of beer into canned beer which find their way to local store shelves. I’m aware of such mobile canning operations in Michigan, Indiana, and Vermont and I’m sure there are others.
In the Stout world, I’m seeing my local NC breweries get “can fever”. One brewery, Aviator Brewery of Fuquay-Varina, NC has a 12 oz. canned stout called Night Jump, which is a Barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout that clocks in at 13%ABV! Now that’s a can of beer! I’m getting a few of those and putting them in the beer fridge for the summer!
In commemoration of the beer can, the next time you are at your favorite bottleshop or grocery store and are perusing your favorite malted beverages, take a few moments and give a little love to the canned offerings – they’re not your father’s cans anymore!!