|Can vs. Bottle|
The battle rages on...
Line up 20 drinkers and ask them to list the characteristics of cheap beer, and the answer you'll almost certainly get across the board is: it comes in a can. Whether it's the flimsiness factor, the similarity to soda pop or just some passed-down-through-the-generations stereotype, conventional wisdom holds that you're not drinking good beer unless it's coming from a tap or a bottle.
That assumption may be about to change. A growing chorus of voices within the brewing industry is calling BS on the notion that glass equals class. Cans, they argue, are not only lighter and more durable, and thus easier to transport, they're also a superior way to store beer.
Oxygen is beer's worst enemy—the more that seeps in, and the more CO2 that seeps out, the greater the likelihood of a skunky product. And while bottling practices have been honed and perfected, even in a best-case-scenario world, that little bit of air at the top of the bottle is a ticking time bomb waiting to corrupt the entire beer.
Cans, on the other hand, can be sealed airtight. They also let in little or no light, another force that can turn tasty ale into undrinkable swill.
Locally, Maui Brewing Co. swears by cans. It's been an uphill battle for them; owner Garrett Marrero says he frequently has to deal with skeptics who dismiss MBC's beer without trying it, the ultimate case of judging a book by its cover. (Marrero claims to have won a few converts by taking a can, pouring it into a glass and telling people it's from the tap before revealing in "Pepsi challenge" fashion that they've just enjoyed—gasp!—a canned beer.)
Nationally, the big brewers seem to be catching on. Budweiser recently launched an ad campaign touting the merits of cans, and several companies have released aluminum bottles to help ease what many see as an inevitable transition. Bottles won't disappear overnight, but their days may be numbered.
As Marrero puts it: "It's better for the environment, it's better for the beer. Why wouldn't you?" -JS