I won’t try to hide the fact that this post is a shameless plug for me, Kendall Jones. The event organizers are giving away a trip to the third annual CANFEST, the big canned beer festival that takes place in Reno on November 12, 2011. Some lucky blogger will win and I think it should be me. Damn it, I deserve it.
Why should I win the trip to CANFEST? Well, as my friends and regular readers of this blog know, I am a vocal proponent of craft beer in aluminum cans. (Click here to see our previous posts about aluminum cans.) I am a tireless advocate for the cause. Beyond that, I am handsome, wise, exceedingly well-spoken, and sophisticated. I also have great hair. These are all valuable assets when considering a champion for any cause.
An Inexorable Advocate for Righteousness
When the craft beer industry was in its infancy, I was a bright-eyed, idealistic young whippersnapper who thought he knew everything about beer. Turns out, I did. I was certain that craft beer was better than domestic swill and I let everyone around me know it. I force-fed my friends beers like Redhook ESB, Pyramid Wheaten Ale, Thomas Kemper Lager, Grant’s Scottish Ale, and any other craft beer I could find.
I know that I was annoying. At times, insufferable. I belittled my buddies if they didn’t appreciate good beer. I questioned their manhood if they couldn’t handle a stout. In the end, most of them all came around to my way of thinking and are now fans of craft beer. The ones who failed to surrender to my indoctrination drifted off into some sorry little world where they drink crappy beer and wallow in their own filthy lameness.
Don’t confuse this as an apology. It is largely because of the unyielding efforts of annoying, self-righteous beer geeks like me that craft beer has risen in popularity over the years. I now find myself the champion of another cause.
Today I have a new mission: craft beer in cans. While many people shake their heads and raise their noses at the idea of drinking good beer from an aluminum can, I am an indefatigable warrior for the cause. When one of our local brewers so much as mentions that they might consider packaging their beer in cans, I heap mountains of praise on them. When someone actually does it, I break down in tears of joy. I honestly believe that we should amend the Washington State Constitution to make April 17th a statewide holiday.
Everything changed on April 17, 2010. The world as we knew it was torn asunder. Dogs lied down with cats, rain rose from the earth to the sky, and Washington-brewed craft beer became available in aluminum cans. It was on April 17, 2010 that 7 Seas Brewing became the first Washington craft brewery to bestow upon the public craft beer in aluminum cans.
Future generations will read about this day in the annals of human history and honor the fearless men who ushered in this brave new era of enlightenment. Those two men are Travis Gutterson and Mike Runion, the owners of Gig Harbor’s 7 Seas Brewing. There should be a statue of Travis and Mike on the lawn in front of the Washington State Capitol in Olympia.
The Argument for Aluminum
Perhaps the biggest misconception about canned beer is that the aluminum gives the beer a metallic taste. The insides of most cans and lids used for high-end craft beers have a coating, ensuring that there is absolutely no contact between the beer and the aluminum. If you are so sure that you can taste the metal, do a blind tasting. I dare you. Do you taste metal when you drink draft beer? After all, a keg is just a big metal can.
No doubt there is a stigma to overcome. People equate aluminum cans with bad beer. Get over it. Let it go. You’re being ridiculous.
Perhaps the biggest single difference between beer and human beings is that beer hates light and oxygen. We need light and oxygen to survive, but it kills beer. Cans are airtight and oxygen-free, protecting their precious cargo from the hated light and oxygen. When light consistently hits a bottle of beer, the beer often turns skunky. The official term is light-struck. Oxygen can also sneak into a bottle under the bottle cap and affect the taste. Letting a perfectly good beer get light-struck or oxidized is criminal, especially since it can be avoided, so to speak.
In a mountain stream, aluminum cans chill quicker than bottles. The lighter weight means it’s easier to pack them in and easier pack the empties out. I don’t mind carrying extra weight if it’s beer, I just don’t want to fill my backpack with glass.
Speaking of glass, have you ever noticed that it breaks? That sucks.
Drinking from aluminum cans allows you to make use of an adorable little foam device known as a koozie. Who on earth doesn’t love a koozie? While some people think that the koozie was invented to help keep the beer cold, I have it on good authority that it was actually designed to keep the hand warm. I learned this from a friend who once explained to me, “Trust me, that can of beer is not going to have chance to get warm.”
All joking aside, from a sustainability standpoint, it’s no contest. Typical aluminum beer cans contain 40 percent recycled aluminum, while American beer bottles are typically composed of 20 percent to 30 percent recycled glass. The energy savings that accumulate when you recycle a ton of aluminum are far greater than they are for a ton of glass—96 percent vs. a mere 26.5 percent. Get it? While both bottles and cans are composed of a significant amount of recycled material, recycling glass takes a lot more energy than recycling aluminum.
Whether you package your beer in bottles or cans, you must deliver it to the market. Either way, you have to load the beer into a truck and drive it to the consumer. The average empty beer can weighs less than an ounce, while an empty bottle clocks in at close to 6 ounces. Transporting heavier items requires more fuel and creates greater emissions.
So there you have it. I have explained why I should be the one selected to go to Reno for CANFEST and I have also explained why aluminum is better than glass.
Did I mention that I have great hair?