Beer bottles are more expensive than cans—and people are willing to pay. But are bottles really better?
In a sustainability argument, cans seem to win. The argument for aluminum is based on the fact that it is much lighter than glass, giving it a smaller carbon footprint when transported. You can pack cans much tighter than larger glass bottles. Aluminum cans are twice as likely to be recycled. The average can contains 40% recycled aluminum while glass bottles usually contain about 27%.
In terms of taste, many bottle supporters insist that canned beer has a metallic taste. However, the inside of cans have a special coating so the beer actually never comes in contact with the aluminum itself. This taste may be from the lip of the can—never drink from the packaging, pour it into a glass!
Cans keep beer fresher. Bottle caps can loosen during transport or processing which can cause oxygen to leak in, loss of freshness and loss of carbonation. Cans also block sunlight, which can penetrate glass and affect flavour. In a test, the exact same beer in bottle and can form were each poured out. The canned versions of most of the tested beers appeared more carbonated and none had a metallic flavour.
One last important point: cans are allowed places glass is not. Taking your favourite local craft brew into a campground at a music festival isn’t possible in a glass bottle!
With all this information, we wonder why people are still willing to pay more for glass. Personally, I think the main reason is how it looks.
Bottles have come to be considered as a more sophisticated form of packaging. When you walk into a liquor store, the “Craft Beer” section usually consists of rows of brown 650mL bomber bottles. You can’t deny the aesthetic value of these bottles. They disassociate the craft brews from the 24 packs of domestic, inexpensive beer cans stacked up in piles, and seem to align them with the more elegant wine bottles on the other side of the store.
I can’t say I don’t love the look of bottles. They look awesome wrapped up as a gift or in the middle of the table between a nice homemade dinner.
Of course, we don’t condone ending the growler trend—they are reusable and promote purchasing and exploring local beer. Growlers rule.
As one writer states, the best choice is going to your local brewery and getting a pint straight from the tank. Can’t argue with that!