Canning appears to be the new favoured method of packaging for beer among the craft producers. Why is this the case? Oxidation of the Hop is one reason but what about others?
With craft brewers trying to cram in more and more hop flavour into our much loved beers new ways of trying to preserve and package them are being explored. The current in vogue method for this is canning. There are several reasons for this and the most obvious is to prevent hop flavour oxidation. The aroma and flavours from dry hopping and late hop additions to your boil need to be protected for them to remain in your beer.
The most common way these are lost is through light oxidation where UV light breaks down the flavour providing compounds, oxygen also does the same to give dull, stale and even cheesy tasting beer. This is why most bottled beer is in brown bottles as the brown glass and not clear glass bottles as the brown glass is able to filter out most, but not all, wavelengths of light while clear glass allows these to pass straight into your beer. The beauty of canning is that is blocks out all light! and therefore you are completely removing the possibility for UV oxidation making it easier to keep your beer in tip top condition. Canning also has a much tighter seal than a bottle top which prevents oxygen from getting to your delicious brew and turning it from something you want to drink to something you don't.
Other than oxidation the reason for the rise in canned craft beer is that it makes financial sense. Cans weigh less than bottles and are also easier to stack which makes it much easier to transport more of your stock for the same price as a lower volume of bottles and results in a fuel saving for the transportation. Additionally, cans are much easier to recycle than glass and actually reduce carbon dioxide by 29 times more than glass recycling (cans - 10 tons CO2/ton aluminium saved compared to bottles - 0.34 tons CO2 /ton glass) making them much more environmentally friendly as well.
Finally another added benefit of cans is that you can stick on any design you want as is displayed wonderfully by Beavertown Brewery . They are known for having some of the wackiest can designs out there thanks to artist Nick Dwyer. This makes them instantly recognisable and really helps to build the brand.
So it looks like everything is pointing towards canned craft beer being a ever growing presence in our beer merchants and supermarkets and not just for reasons surrounding the flavour of the product. Knowing that they are reducing the impact we have on the environment, I'm going to be feeling ever so slightly smug when I'm next enjoying a canned craft beer.