Not that long ago it seemed like a crazy idea. But aluminum cans have become a ubiquitous craft beer delivery system.
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.
Since then, more and more craft breweries, both big and small, have introduced canned versions of their most popular beers.
In 2012, Marietta’s Red Hare became the first Georgia craft brewery with a canning line and released its Long Day Lager in cans, followed by several more styles.
Now Sweetwater, Georgia’s biggest craft brewery, is set to release its top-selling 420 Extra Pale Ale in cans. Look for 420 in 12-packs of 12-ounce cans in stores on Monday. Later, 420 will be available in 16-ounce tall boys, too, along with 12-ounce and 16-ounce IPA cans.
The appeal of the latest generation of beer cans is obvious. They keep beer fresh by sealing out flavor destroyers like oxygen and light and new can liners prevent beer from coming in contact with aluminum. Plus, cans are easier to chill, carry and recycle and more environmentally friendly to ship and store.
Sweetwater installed a new German-made Krones canning line, which will run with specially designed Ball cans. Even more exciting, the beer will be “can-conditioned” with small doses of priming sugar and live yeast, then warm conditioned for five to seven days before shipping.
The result should be bubbly fresh beer, whether you pour it into a glass or grab a Koozie and glug it straight from the can.
I’m looking forward to trying my first canned Sweetwater 420 next week. And I’m hoping I will find Sweetwater IPA in 16-ounce cans at Turner Field on opening day.
Who knows, maybe Sweetwater in cans will even hitch a ride on a Delta flight sometime soon.
Do you drink canned beer? Are you happy that Sweetwater 420 and IPA will be in cans?
— By Bob Townsend, AJC Food and More blog.