The debate between canned beer and bottled beer did not start until the 1930s. Until the 30s tin cans could not hold beer without exploding. It wasn’t until 1935 that a vinyl liner was invented to prevent the beer from busting that can’s seam. The first beer to use the new canning technology was Krueger’s Finest Beer, out of Virginia. It was a huge hit with the public.
Gradually, beer in cans spread in popularity to Europe. Unfortunately, production of canned beer was stopped everywhere during World War II due to rationing. Production of beer in cans resumed after the war, and quickly reached no levels of popularity with the introduction of the flat top can.
The main reason for the success of canned beer was convenience. Because they were smaller than bottles, stackable and didn’t break as easily they were easier to sell. The invention of the liner that made canned beer possible also allowed beer to be sold in metal kegs instead of wooden casks. This made it easier to transport to bars and easier to keep for longer periods of time.
Every one knows cans are more convenient and easier to transport, but what about the taste? This has been a decades long debate. It really comes down to personal preference. Some people think that the can gives beer after taste, especially since we switched to using aluminum cans instead of tin. Other beer drinkers think that the bottle does a better job of preserving the flavor and carbonation used in the beer.
One thing that is without dispute is beer temperature. In Europe, where beer is preferred warm, the fact that cans don’t keep the beer cold isn’t an issue. Here in America and other places where we prefer our beverages cold, this is a big deal. Once you open they can of beer the container has trouble keeping the liquid cold. Many Americans solve this problem by using beer cozies. Because of the nature of glass, beer in bottles stays cold longer even after its open.
What about the impact on the environment? Hands down, bottles win in the debate on environmental impact. In fact the best thing you can do for the environment is to buy bottle beer from local brewery that is known to recycle glass for its bottles. This saves gas used in transportation, and avoids using aluminum.
Aluminum itself is not the problem. The problem is in the process. Aluminum is the third most common element in the world. There’s no danger of running out of aluminum anytime soon. The environmental impact comes from how aluminum is made. To make aluminum usable it takes a great deal of Energy. Using Energy uses oil, and oil is a resource that is running out.
So long story short, if you are someone who believes in recycling, likes your beer cold, and believes glass improves the flavor then you want to drink bottled beer. If you are someone those things convenience is more important, doesn’t mind using a beer cozy, and drinks beer at any temperature then canned beer is the solution for you. If you’re like most people, you drink canned beer and bottle beer depending on the occasion. You might take canned beer when you tailgate and drink bottled beer at home. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.