There is the notion that craft beer and cans just don’t go together, which might explain why Australia has only two on offer, but Malt Shovel’s Chuck Hahn and Coopers’ Nick Sterenberg say that this just comes down to image.
“Cans just don’t carry that premium image that we would always seek for our beers. Though a number of craft brewers in the USA are going all cans and are attempting to change that ‘less than premium’ image that cans seem to carry.”
Nick who produces Cooper’s Dr Tim’s in a can (only available in South Australia), says that despite the negative image some new can designs are making in-roads.
“Just think about Guinness in a can,” he says. “Can manufactures are trying to come up with new interesting shapes to look more premium. Look at Kronenberg 1664 355 and the 330 Euro-sleek can.”
Despite the negative perceptions, Chuck maintains that the can has its advantages and raises that point that beer should be poured into a glass anyway.
“They do protect the beer from sunlight and are easy to carry and store,” he says.
“We also promote the enjoyment of our beers in proper glassware. This gives the consumer an opportunity to enjoy the aromas and flavours in a much better fashion. If a glass is available, I guess it doesn’t really matter whether it is poured out of a can or a bottle.”
Nick says that cans have created challenges for Coopers but have also led to creating a world first, referring to his unique can conditioned beer.
“There are a number of technical challenges to overcome. The first is the sterility and a high standard of hygiene that is required if you are not going to pasteurise the beer. The second is the low level of dissolved CO2 in the beer before conditioning, normally the CO2 pressure helps give strength to the can so they are easily damaged.”
However the main question people want to know is – do cans affect the taste?
“The cans have an internal lining so there should be no difference to the beer for a bottle,” Nick says.
“When we produce Dr Tim’s in a can we are performing a fermentation and then the size and shape of the container will make a slight difference.”
Both maintain however that installing a can line might be out of reach for most small brewers.
“Most do not have access to a can line and this calls for additional capital which most small brewers do not have,” Chuck says.
Despite the lack of beer in cans in Australia, Chuck has been surprised and overwhelmed by the feedback.
“This has been a great success for James Squire,” he says.
“Some of the flight attendants have told me that even on their international flights it competes with Heineken for popularity.”