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Beer Town: The summer of canned craft beer and Koozies

Just few years ago, it seemed like a crazy idea. But aluminum cans have become a ubiquitous craft beer delivery system nowadays.

Oskar Blues of Lyons, Col., was the pioneer, first producing its iconic Dale’s Pale Ale on a newly developed Ball small canning system in 2002.

can060712beerSince then, more and more craft breweries, both big and small, have introduced canned versions of their most popular beers (see: New Belgium Fat Tire and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale).

Not surprisingly, the new Oskar Blues restaurant/music venue and brewery, due to open in Brevard, N.C., in December, will include a canning line.

Closer to home, Marietta’s Red Hare is poised to be the first Georgia craft brewery with a canning line and plans to release its Long Day Lager in cans in July.

The appeal of the latest generation of beer cans is obvious. Cans keep beer fresh by sealing out flavor destroyers like oxygen and light and new can liners prevent beer from coming in contact with aluminum. Cans are easier to chill, carry and recycle and more environmentally friendly to ship and store.

Still, beyond the retro-cool factor of the PBR tall boy, many people continue to associate cans with cheap beer, though that seems to be changing as fast as new canned craft beers are hitting the market.

And while most beer aficionados would almost always prefer to pour a bottled or canned beer into a glass before consuming it, the popularity of canned beers seems to have spawned another trend: the return of the beer Koozie.

Unlikely as it sounds, I’ve experienced cool foam Koozies at the bar at several Atlanta fine dining restaurants, lately.

One Eared Stag in Inman Park serves the likes of PBR, Schlitz ’60s Formula and Dale’s Pale in a koozie printed with the Stag logo.

Empire State South in Midtown has a super classy koozie with the emblematic map of Georgia drawing chef Hugh Acheson did for the cover of his James Beard award-winning cookbook, “A New Turn In The South.”

That means you can sip a tall Sierra Torpedo IPA while contemplating our state’s bounty of peanuts, peaches and Vidalia onions.

Somehow, I think this is the summer I’m going to throw caution to the wind and sip all kinds of canned craft beers sheathed in the assorted designs of my growing Koozie collection.

Beer Pick

Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA

Anderson Valley Brewing Co., Boonville, Calif.

Profile: Anderson Valley has long been one of my favorite American breweries, both for the beer it produces and its location in the lovely little wine country town of Boonville, where a unique home-grown language, Boontling, is still spoken by a handful of residents.

Hop Ottin’ is Boontling for “hardworking hops,” and this wonderfully complex IPA is a triumph of matching aromatic citrus and herbal hops with a deep malt character and a snappy dry finish. I’m so happy Anderson Valley beer is finally available in Atlanta and Hop Ottin’ comes in cans now.

Pair with: With it’s balance of aromas, flavors and finish, Hop Ottin’ is a great food beer. Try it with with burgers, pork barbecue, jerk chicken, grilled pizza or cedar plank salmon.

— Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog

5 comments Add your comment

Hindu Elvis Pimp

June 7th, 2012
9:26 am

I like the ideas of cans. Far superior packaging to bottles. I still must pour in to a glass or cup. As a home brewer, re-using bottles is still a necessity. I hope cans don’t become too popular to the point I can no longer bottle home brew.

Billy

June 7th, 2012
10:58 am

Woo-hoo a beer of the week!

Steinber Kimmie

June 7th, 2012
12:58 pm

We’re glad to finally be in GA too, Bob! Thanks for the nice review and for being a “fan of the can”! Cheers and Bahl Hornin’…

Marshall Stacks

June 13th, 2012
12:33 pm

My local stocks cans of Newcastle Brown for $6 a six-pack; makes afternoons at the pool that much more groovy. Seen the Anderson Valley and will definitely give it a shot this weekend…

David Little

June 13th, 2012
5:14 pm

Don’t forget that the summer solstice is coming up on the 20th and Anderson Valley Summer Solstice also comes in cans!