Friday 4 February 2011

Can It!

I've been asked to participate in the Sessions - where beer bloggers all over the world comment on a single topic (I've been so busy I didn't get a chance to check out what it was all about earlier and I wrote a slightly rude intro about no knowing what I was up to, for which I must apologise, I'm going a bit mental this end finishing this damn book!)

So, firstly the below is a very bullet point version of my general opinions (again apologies!) but I hope it gives a general gist of how I feel; I've only had a chance to read Pete Brown's entry so far and I must confess that if I was to write a post entirely on keg vs cask then I'd have written exactly what he has, although maybe not as eruditely, but I've gone a bit wider and hope it all makes sense!

The original American canned craft beer,
Oskar Blues cites the can as a major saving
Glass - always brown, never clear, especially craft brewers; Badger, Greene King & St Austell have all been guilty of bottling good beers because they want to pander to the marketing departments. Why the hell do you let your brewers spend all that money on raw ingredients, utilities and manpower if you're just going to balls up the end result by putting it in a clear bottle.

For any brewery reading this, if profit is your primary concern then let me put why this is bad in terms you'll understand, it's short-sighted in terms of brand equity and longevity, unless you're Corona and you can convince the gullible that sticking lime in the top is a Mexican tradition to keep out flies, not to cover up the fetid stench of light strike as the hop oils degrade into something resembling a damp corgi who's been rolling in a swamp.

Cask vs. keg - different strokes for different folks, I think keg is a very different beast these days and the word no longer represents poor quality products (smoothflow on the other hand is the devil's own work!).

Cans - use the American method, use soda cans, they are a pleasing size to drink beer from, they keep beer super-fresh and it's my new favourite way of enjoying beer when not in a pub environment; I grant you I tend to drink American offerings so I don't get to enjoy them very often but the sooner more breweries follow in BrewDog's paw prints and band together to run a consumer campaign to get them to understand how much better the beer is when packaged this way the better everyone will be.

And why? Well for starters you can get across more information about your beer on cans as you have the whole surface of the container to use, they will save you transport costs as the are lighter and fill space on your transport more efficiently, so you will be able to get more pallets on one truck, they are better for the environment as they are more recyclable than glass and, finally and most importantly, if your product is designed to be served fresh then the can (when lined with a protective membrane like a soda can) will do a better job than any other container of protecting it.*

I know I've said all that before, but it bears repeating and besides, someone asked me to do it (still not sure why but hell, I'm a helpful kinda gal!).

*Caveat is obviously bottle conditioned beer, I can't see how you would be able to do that in can without it exploding, but I'm sure smarter people than I can tell me whether that's the case or not


Séan Billings said...

I see no reason why you couldn't "can condition" in the same way as you bottle condition. Soft drinks are more highly carbonated than even the fizziest of beers and soft drinks cans can easily hold far higher pressures than necessary to carbonate beer.

Cooking Lager said...

To a customer that has never purchased a product before, the packaging is all there is to indicate quality. A premium soup in a box in the fridge section, for instance. Would it sell if it was canned and sat next to other canned soups that ranged from value, to own brand, to brand etc, if priced at current levels (£2 a box compared to 50p a can)?

Many punters would see it, but would they pay the premium for a more expensive can of soup like they do for “fresh” soup? Both box and can are pasteurized products, and the box really doesn’t really need to be fridged if still sealed. With boxes of orange juice, the box shape indicates a price point, and none of it needs to be fridged but nothing says “fresh” like fridging it.

When you look at beer as the commodity it is, and look at how most people buy products, most packaging isn't about efficiency or cost, it is about a marketing message to the consumer. Would craft pongy ale stand out and command its price point if packaged like lovely cooking lager to new customers?

DM said...

You can put live beer in a can. Its not the explosivity that's the problem - after all, you'd think this would be much more problematic in glass containers - they collapse when you try & stack pallets of them.

Neil, said...

Some great points made here, couldnt agree more.

I think that the quality of the beer is what matters, not the dispense.

I wrote about Brewdog Punk in cans and whether it's the first true 'craft beer' in a can to be sold in the UK. I'm inclined to think it is, because of the light filtration and non-pasturised nature of the beer.

anyway, have a look at my blog post if you like. I'd love to know any comments you may have.

Kitchen Stools Direct said...

"unless you're Corona and you can convince the gullible that sticking lime in the top is a Mexican tradition to keep out flies, not to cover up the fetid stench of light strike as the hop oils degrade into something resembling a damp corgi who's been rolling in a swamp."


Angus Boag said...

Coopers Dr. Tims Traditional Ale is conditioned in the can...

Unknown said...

Thanks for the post. The Session round-up is now live:

Melissa Cole said...

I am so sorry that all the comments on this were only just moderated, I stupidly imagined I would get emails to tell me, this didn't happen, I am a luddite!


@Cookie - education, education, education; I thought I'd use that as Labour doesn't seem to need it any more

@everyone who pointed out can conditioning can work, thank you!

@Neil - BrewDog, as ever, getting slightly carried away with their own importance; Utobeer and Beer Ritz have been selling Caldera from the States in cans for some time, also can they say that Fuller's, Hall & Woodhouse and others that can their beer aren't craft brewers? It's a better-designed can for beer as it's got a special lining and is the same one as used for soft drinks, like the size and think it's a brilliant idea, I'm right behind it, just not going to buy into the hype either!

@Kitchen thank you! I must confess I giggled as I wrote it!