Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Love Canned Beer!

I am a huge supporter of the new movement to put quality beer into cans. There is something really satisfying about drinking a really good beer out of a can. To me, it seems like the final hurdle to erase that dark period in American history where there were no small local breweries, beer was only golden and filled with adjuncts. Even the most geeky of beer snobs has to agree that a cold Bitburger tall boy on a hot day hits the spot. There have always been some decent imports that come in a can, but until very recently finding an American beer in a can worth drinking was a tall order. I was surprised that in the enviro-friendly Seattle area (the trouncing of the grocery bag tax aside) that no one was putting beer in cans. They are impervious to light, they chill faster, they are lighter to carry (ideal for camping, rafting, etc..), and cans are 100% recyclable. Currently in Washington there are numerous obstacles for small breweries to put their beer in cans. "I would love to put our beer in cans," Baron Brewing owner/brewer Jeff Smiley told me, "in Germany everything comes in a can." Jeff went on to tell me that one of the biggest obstacles for small breweries to can is there is an enormous minimum order for cans printed with a breweries label. In Washington there is a mobile bottler who goes around to all the small breweries. Even the smallest nano-brewery can afford a nominal sum to put their beers in 22oz. bottles, and get their product on store shelves. No such service currently exists with cans. If there is a Washington entrepreneur out there with a lot of startup money, this would be a worthwhile venture. Every Seattle brewer that I have talked to loves the idea of great beer in cans, they simply do not have the means to do it.

In Ashland, Oregon, Caldera Brewing Co. has figured out a way. In 2005 they decided to commit to canned beer. Their production is still small enough that they are a microbrewery, although that could change soon when more people discover these great canned beers. The IPA is assertively hopped with Simcoe, Centennial, and Amarillo hops to give this IPA a nice citrusy bitterness with hints of tropical fruit, and just the right amount of malt to provide balance. At only 6.1% ABV it doesn't lay you out if you're hiking or canoeing, or just out at the bar. Hoppy, but not overpowering; exactly what I want in a solid NW IPA. I just love that whoosh when you open the can. It had been way to long since I heard that sound and didn't think, "Oh great I'm stuck at a party with lousy beer." Caldera has returned that excitement when I hear the whoosh! They also can the Pale Ale and the Amber, for the not so bitter folk.

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