Cans or Bottles?

Craft beer trends are definitely pointing us towards a can filled beer cooler. Consumers have started to come around from the dated notion that bottled beer is a more premium offering. Cans now hold some of the most creative and complex beer on shelves, and they look pretty sexy while doing it. According to Beer Canada, bottle sales fell 10.7% in 2017 while can sales grew almost 5% and now account for 60% of the Canadian market share.
So why the sudden change of heart? People who are moving towards cans cite the protection of beer, the lightweight and portable nature, and the recyclability. Consumers who stick to bottles usually have one major reason for it - taste, but also say the bottles keep their beer colder longer. But does canned beer really taste metallic? We are going to delve into the packaging world and present some of our findings.

Preservation

One of the most common reasons for moving to cans is ensuring the product stays as fresh as possible. Making sure consumers have the best version of a product is always at the forefront of production and here are a few things that come into play in the beer world.  

Sunlight

When it comes to sunlight, exposure to beer can cause a chemical reaction that results in “skunked” beer. Save the science - we’ve all had it, and it’s never good.

Because glass bottles are transparent, even if amber, there is always a chance the beer inside them can be affected by overexposure, whereas cans are completely opaque, allowing zero sunlight in.

Our trusty scientist and Brewery Manager Jeremy McLaughlin weighed in on the topic. “Everyone is aware that cans give you complete protection of light, whereas bottles can give you a light strike skunk flavour. With our set up at Village, we use amber glass which protects the beer from the most harmful light. By also adding our bottles to closed off cardboard boxes we completely mitigate any light strike issues glass can potentially cause.”

Oxygen

Ever had a beer that tastes like cardboard? Paper? Old library book? Yikes. Oxygen probably had a contributing factor. Common consensus seems to be that cans are completely airtight and bottles allow oxygen in during the crown capping, making them more susceptible to oxidization.

Jeremy says this is a common misconception, “Our CASK canning line is an open can filler (open to atmosphere), whereas our bottling line is a counter-pressure filler. Counter-pressure filling is where you pressurize your bottle and slowly fill it up thereafter. You end up wasting less beer and get more precise fills. Because the canning line is open to the atmosphere, we are susceptible to getting foamy beer problems (similar to pouring beer at a bar). However, in terms of dissolved oxygen, we get less than 40 parts per billion on both our canning and bottling lines, and that’s pretty good.” 

Heat

There’s nothing worse than warm beer. Cans insulate less well, so if you leave them in the sun they will get warmer faster than a bottle. On the other hand, if you put them on ice they will cool down faster. It’s a pretty even race, but the most important thing is to keep your beer cold regardless of the vessel. 

Environmental Impact

..Because saving the planet and drinking beer simultaneously is a no brainer.

Recycling

According to the Aluminum Association, in North America, aluminium cans are made up of up to 70% of recycled material and are recycled at much higher rates than other beverage containers. They are infinitely and easily recyclable. Bottles, on the other hand, vary in how much-recycled product they are made up of.

However, we can’t overlook the environmental impact of creating new aluminium from Bauxite Ore, which will always be an issue. It takes a considerably more amount of energy to create new aluminium than it does to create new glass.

While there are pros and cons to both, we try to do our part at Village by ordering printed cans that don’t have plastic sleeves for all of our core brands and ditching the plastic rings for a recyclable alternative. However, the most eco-friendly way to drink our beer is to hop on your bike and visit our taproom, filling your growler from the tap!

And of course - please recycle all of our packaged product after you’ve enjoyed it.

Shipping

When we look at the footprint of both, cans definitely have a leg up. They are much lighter and more compact than glass, while also using less cardboard. We can ship more product in cans and that means using less fuel to get our beer to the people.

As Jeremy says, “We ship pallets to a lot of places. One pallet of beer in bottles is about 474 litres. A pallet of cans is around 900 litres. So that footprint, that 40x48 pallet, holds almost twice as much beer, which makes a lot of sense.”
 
Taste

Well, this can only be solved with a blind taste test. But we can promise you with 100% certainty that canned beer is not being tainted with metal. However, the people that believe beer from a can tastes metallic are pretty set in their ways. Our draft beer, bottled beer, and canned beer are all the same product and shouldn’t vary in how they taste, however the mind plays a powerful part.

This one is open to you though - grab a group of friends and do a blind taste test with one of our beers that comes in both bottles and cans. Let us know what your results are and which you prefer! 
 

Bottom line

Cans keep that precious beer pretty perfect, but bottles can too. Drink what you prefer and don’t overthink it. 

And whether you prefer bottles or cans - Reuse Reduce and Recycle! According to the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporationrecycling one aluminium can will run your TV for three hours, and recycling one glass bottle can run a 100 watt light bulb for four hours.

Albertans achieved a bottle return rate of over 85% last year and that’s pretty sweet, so lets keep it up. You can also get crafty and turn your glass bottles into candle holders, vases, glasses, and more, just make sure to send us pictures when you do.

Oh - and get that beer out of the sun!

 

By Rebecca Skinner

Tagged with: Beer

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