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Beer History: Cans or Bottles?

Beer History: Cans or Bottles?

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Beer History

Since the craft brew industry took off in recent beer history, most breweries have showcased their flagship beers in bottles, separating themselves from the major U.S. domestic brands best recognized in cans.

Don’t kick the can just yet, though, as many craft breweries in Michigan are shifting gears and taking another look at canning their product. Nationwide, the industry is pushing back on the stigma that has kept craft beer in bottles as more and more breweries release canned products.

According to, a website dedicated to the “canned beer revolution”, 424 craft breweries release at least one of their beers in a can today. Compare that to the 20-something craft brewers producing beer in cans in the mid-2000s, and you’ll find a growing trend away from bottles for one of the few times in beer history.

The craze for cans has become so evident that some craft beer festivals are limiting their entries to cans only.

Despite the stigma throughout beer history suggesting cans have a metallic taste, there has been no evidence to prove such a claim. That’s why here at Frankenmuth Brewery, we have released two of our Michigan seasonal craft beers, Twisted Helles Summer Lager and Old Detroit Amber Ale, in aluminum cans. While bottled beer is still much more popular in craft breweries, there are many benefits to selling by the can.Beer-History-3

Distribution Costs

The most evident benefit to distributing beer in cans is the low cost of distribution. Compare the weight of an average empty bottle, roughly 6 ounces, to your average empty beer can, which weighs in at less than an ounce, and it’s easy to see the benefits of the can. Factor in the paper packaging for bottled six-packs compared to the plastic rings on aluminum cans, and it’s clear that cans are far superior for saving on packaging and shipping.

Canned Beer is Fresher and Colder

While bottled beer has pores in the cap at the top of the bottle, beer in aluminum cans doesn’t allow any oxygen in or out. This gives cans the edge when it comes to average shelf life of beer. In addition to blocking all oxygen, aluminum cans also allow beer to become cold much quicker than it would in a bottle. However, this argument goes both ways unless you’re a fast drinker, as canned beer doesn’t stay cold for as long.

Cans Block All Light

Aluminum cans also win the argument of blocking out light. Because of light-sensitive compounds found in hops called isohumulones, beer can break down and become skunked when showered with light. While brown bottles eliminate most light, aluminum cans eliminate all of it.

Cans Are Portable and More Widely Tolerated

Seeing as how you can’t shatter a can, it’s no wonder why bottles are often banned in parks, beaches and other public places. Because cans are smaller, lighter, less fragile and more often recycled, they have a huge advantage over bottled beer when it comes to portability and acceptance in public places.

Canned Beer Tastes the Same Anyway

Despite the obvious benefits of canning beer, the argument almost always falls back on the fact that beer in aluminum cans has a “metallic taste” to it. If that were the case, then beer aficionados would also be calling for the end of kegged beer.

Additionally, aluminum cans are coated on the inside to prevent oxidation and a metallic taste. If your phobia of metallic-beer-blending is still unbreakable, there’s always the option of just pouring your beer into a glass.

Beer History

For these reasons, we’re seeing craft brewers push back for the first time in beer history against the notion that bottled beer is superior. This year at Frankenmuth Brewery, we are proud to sell both our Twisted Helles Summer Lager and Old Detroit Amber Ale in aluminum cans. You can check out what others have to say about our delicious canned creations at Untappd.

However, regardless of your preference, Frankenmuth Brewery can accommodate. Our Michigan craft beers are available in bottles, cans, and on draft.

For more beer history, check out our post on famous home brewers and keep an eye out for more from this new series!

Left header image courtesy of Instagram user @r5wendland.

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