It started back in 2002. Oskar Blues packaged its Dale’s Pale Ale in a can. This was the first craft beer to be sold in a can. At first, many people thought it was a marketing ploy. In reality, Oskar Blues was on to something.
Cans seal better than a bottle and do not allow light in, allowing beer to stay fresher longer. Some say that cans retain hop aroma better than bottles. Cans are more portable than bottles. Cans are also preferred as a poolside beer delivery device by barefoot people everywhere. They are lighter and pack easier, which means they are more cost-effective and greener to ship.
Below are some exceptional beers ~and a surprise for our gluten-free readers ~ available in cans.
Sam Adams Summer Ale (5.3% ABV)
This is actually an American pale wheat ale brewed with lemon zest and grains of paradise. It has become the go-to summer beer for many and a must-have at large gatherings. It has a proprietary can design patented by Sam Adams to improve drinkability and aroma. The good guys at Sam Adams have made the can design available free of charge to all breweries that can. The different can design makes it easy to pick out of a cooler. It’s fizzy, slightly tart and refreshing on a summer day. Its light mouthfeel and easy drinkability make it a cookout must.
Sixpoint Resin (9.10% ABV)
Don’t get excited about the name of this beer. Although cannabis is a distant cousin of the hop plant, resin refers to the sticky good stuff in a hop flower. This can is similar in size and shape to a certain blue energy drink, which again makes it easy to pick out of a cooler. Be careful with this one. It is as drinkable as the others, but packs a wallop with its high alcohol content. As soon as I opened the can, aromas of pine, citrus and tropical aromas filled the general area. The first sip revealed a similar flavor profile, in addition to a muted caramel taste. Shockingly crisp and clean for what it is.
21st Ammendment Hell or High Watermelon (4.90% ABV)
“I don’t like fruit in my beer, but I like this,” is a comment I have heard over and over again about this beer. It starts its life as a simple American wheat beer with a reduced hop content. That means little to no bitterness, and the fruit flavor can shine. Then, this beer is put through a secondary fermentation with real watermelon. It pours a dark yellow. It has adequate carbonation and a light mouthfeel. There is a definite aroma and taste of watermelon in this beer. It is ridiculously drinkable. Add this to your cooler for a wonderful conversation piece.
Wachusett Light IPA (4.0% ABV)
Wachusett IPA was the first beer I ever had in a growler back in the mid-90s. Unlike a typical IPA, it is only 4% ABV and is only 121 calories. It is extremely difficult to balance the hop bitterness and the malt sweetness with a beer of this ABV, but somehow Wachusett manages to do it. It looks and smelled like an IPA, a slight brown color with a thick white head. Aromas of pine and citrus were prevalent. It had a moderate mouthfeel. This should be a favorite session beer for those who enjoy IPAs.
Berkshire Brewing Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale (5.30% ABV)
This is the only American pale ale of the bunch; it is like an IPA, with less hop bitterness and aroma. It pours a dark blonde with a modest white head. There is a light cereal aroma and an ever-so-slight hint of hops. Mouthfeel was on the light side. It had a pronounced malty sweetness and a mere suggestion of hops. This is an excellent choice for someone who likes an IPA minus the bitterness.
Harpoon Summer Beer (4.80% ABV)
This is a Kolsch, patterned after the light ales brewed in Cologne, Germany. It poured a light gold with a thin head and active carbonation. There was a light bread and lemon aroma coming up off the glass. It tasted exactly like it smelled, possibly the most drinkable beer of the bunch. As I drank this, I imagined myself at the beach. This would go great with a steamed lobster and clams. Another excellent choice for a summer beer.
Narragansett Bohemian Pilsner (5.20% ABV)
This is the only lager of the bunch, and it was also one of the biggest surprises. I am a fan of regular Narragansett, and I am proud to admit it, but this beer is on another level. The beer pours a brilliant light gold with a moderate-sized head. It has the typical European pilsner aromas of crackers and German hops. It tasted like it smelled, with a clean, crisp finish. It is super drinkable and is in my fridge as we speak. Imagine for a moment that regular Narragansett grew up and matured. Don’t imagine; its right here.
A number of my friends cannot enjoy beer due to a gluten allergy. For some time, I have been on the lookout for a good gluten-free beer. I have yet to find one that I can recommend. What I can say is to try a cider. I have seen numerous varieties from both Angry Orchard and Woodchuck available in a can. Cider made from apples is naturally gluten-free. Some even have their ciders tested by an independent lab and have gluten-free facilities. Read the package to be sure.
By Kerry Cyganiewicz