Canned beers have become so commonplace that it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always this way. For years, many of the most iconic beers stuck with glass or highly anticipated keg release and growler fill days. Presently more than ever you can find some of the most idolized American craft beers clad in aluminum.
Some of our favorite beers have been wearing the can for a while now, from Bear Republic’s delicious Racer 5 IPA to the incredibly refreshing and game-changing Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues Brewery. Some breweries, like Sam Adams, debated for years about whether to can some of its work (it ultimately did in 2013). Below is a shortlist of noteworthy canned craft developments that have taken place over the last few years.
Russian River Brewing resisted canning its incredibly popular beer until late in 2019. Finally, the California brewery agreed to aluminum for Pliny the Elder, arguably one of the most adored IPAs on the planet. Its sibling brew, Pliny the Younger, remains un-canned but the fact that Elder went the crushable route is telling. Not only that, it opens the critically ghacclaimed beer up to a bigger audience than ever. Recall that this is the beer, in its earliest heyday, that would draw lines out the door of bottle shops and taprooms lucky enough to get their hands on some of the stuff. This move will no doubt encourage other brewery’s to can some of their most treasured creations, if they don’t already.
Heads turned when Oregon beer powerhouse pFriem released two of its most popular beers in can form in early 2019. Suddenly, its IPA and pilsner were sitting in stores in neat six-packs, ready for broader recognition. The latter beer especially has become iconic, not just in the Pacific Northwest, but beyond. European pilsners have long enjoyed the glass-and-cap routine but this refreshing and deftly made option seems perfect for the straight-out-of-the-cooler routine.
It’s not premature to call the above beer iconic. El Segundo has been quietly mastering the IPA for years now from its southern California headquarters and the Mayberry is arguably its best and most consumed product. The brewery expanded its production and its canned line in 2019, allowing for its remarkable IPAs to end up in kitchen fridges all over the West Coast and beyond. It’s proof than even in the crowded field of American
New York’s Equilibrium just expanded, before the pandemic broke and rewrote all the rules. While crowds aren’t lining up so much at its headquarters, the brewery has ramped up production as of this year and has also improved distribution. That means better access to its esteemed Photon IPA, one of the best session IPAs out there. Bursting with flavor and balance yet showing restraint with a modest ABV of 5%, it’s a model citizen within a category that can be really hit or miss.
This California-brewed classic has been around for decades but it wasn’t canned until 2016. It remains an unapologetically robust beer, glass aside. The move was a major one for a brewery known for its 22-ounce bottles. It also opened the doors for other brewers of darker, richer, aggressively hopped ales. Putting it in a can not only heightens its already popular nature but lets the beer world know that it’s here to stay.
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