Bottle Or Can? The Great Beer Debate Rages On

Beer can face

Beer can face (Photo by chidorian)

A wise man once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

If that’s really true, why can’t beer drinkers across the world be just as happy consuming their favorite brand from a can as a bottle?

I was reminded of this great debate during a July 4th barbeque at my house when a perplexed younger neighbor pulled a chilled can of (imported) beer from the cooler and asked the following:

“Do you…um…like…have anything I can pour this in?”

My snarky reply: “Your mouth?”

While it’s always a good idea to pour beer into a glass to get the full experience, for many image-conscious beer drinkers (like my neighbor) drinking from a can is, like, so not cool. Why?

To help me separate the wheat from the hops, I called upon beer expert Matt Simpson. You might remember Mr. Simpson’s commentary on national TV when President Obama’s “Beer Gate” was making headlines. So what’s his take on the great beer debate?

“It’s really a no-brainer. Cans rock,” said Simpson who also recognizes the stigma that still surrounds cans.  “The general public thinks bottles are great because they are starting to catch up to the merits of craft beer. That’s why they think bottles are the be-all, end-all and a sign of taste and refinement.”

Simpson still wonders why bottles, especially clear and green, are still used at all. It’s a thorny topic he’s discussed at great length with many professional beer makers. “Even though we know clear and green bottles allow skunking of beer, it all comes down to perception,” said Simpson.  “They are simply making what they think their clientele wants.”

In fact, perception, demographics and marketing plays a major role in any  finished product – whether it’s good for that product or not. So even though cans are more portable, recyclable and don’t break like bottles, manufacturers are still beholden to the less efficient bottle simply because of consumer demand.

“Bottles are so much heavier,” said Simpson. “Think about all of the reduced weight on the beer trucks traveling around the U.S. if they were only carrying cans.”

But the number one reason canning is better than bottling is taste, according to Simpson.

“Cans keep 100 percent of the light out. So unless you want your beer reminding you of an old Pepe Le Pew skit, cans are your only sure-fire bet.”

What’s your preference?  Bottle or can?

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