Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification Program.
Is there a sound of summer more satisfying than the crack of opening an aluminum can? In one percussive moment, it conjures memories of picnics, grilling or cooling off after mowing the lawn. It’s the container that requires no opener other than your own fingers.
Since 1933, when the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company began shipping their Krueger’s Finest Beer in cans, beer drinking just hasn’t been the same. Of course, those cans required a churchkey to punch holes in the top for drinking, but they heralded a new delivery system for beer.
Though consumers might still associate beer cans with mass-produced, light lagers, there has been a real craft beer movement brewing around the aluminum can.
Oskar Blues Brewery started the trend in 2002 with Dale’s Pale Ale, committing to be a bottle-free brewery. According to craftcans.com Cantastic Database of Canned Craft Beer, there are approximately 508 breweries canning beer in the United States today.
Aluminum has numerous benefits that make it a more attractive container for beer than glass. It effectively blocks out harmful light and air — the seal on a can is tighter than that of a bottle cap. Cans are lightweight and less costly to recycle than glass. And, the durability of aluminum means that breweries lose less beer to breakage in shipping. Not to mention that the can is immensely portable for the beer drinker, too.
Here are several tasty brews that just happen to come in a can:
This session IPA has “throwback” in its name because it’s so easy to throw them back. It’s a cute joke for a serious beer. The aroma is piney followed by a citrus tang. Grapefruit dominates the flavor. The bitter citrus flavor is so big, that it’s easy to forget that there isn’t much alcohol. This is a delicious and refreshing IPA that doesn’t knock you out. It’s great for an afternoon outside.
Brewed by the brewery named for the Constitutional amendment that repeal prohibition, Hell or High Watermelon is rather standard — albeit fruity — American wheat.
21st Amendment is better known for it hoppy beers than for malty ones, but they have made a perennial favorite for many craft beer drinkers. This beer starts out as a typical American wheat beer then goes through a secondary fermentation with fresh watermelon. The finished product is a beer that both smells and tastes almost entirely of watermelon. It’s refreshing beer on a hot day and goes well with just about any grilled food. You should be able to find this until late summer.
Maui’s Coconut Porter is a favorite of their line-up — the Washington Post named it the champion of Beer Madness 2012. Though it’s the darkest of the beers here, the fact that it’s a porter makes a great choice for a summer cookout.
The aroma is mineral with toast and cocoa, betraying just a hint of the toasted coconut used in the brewing. Chocolate and the bittering of the toasted malt is all over the flavor — I got little of the coconut in the flavor. Regardless, at 6 percent this beer is still going to go down easy with a big flavor that pleases.
The can that I had was still labeled with their old brewery name: 3 Brothers Brewing Co. After a legal dispute left them with the choice of limiting their distribution to Virginia only or changing their name, they chose change.
Drift falls rightly into a category they created called Weekender beers. I have just one word for this delicious beer — pine. It’s in the aroma and flavor, and it’s what makes this beer a great find. Out of Harrisonburg, Va., Brothers Brewing Co. is only distributing within the state. But, as their name change implies, they aren’t interested in limiting themselves.
I didn’t mention all the great Virginia breweries that use some or all cans, nor most of the other U.S. breweries that do. What is your favorite can of beer? Cheers!
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.