Photo | Fairhope Brewing Company
Representatives from Fairhope Brewing Co. said cans improve freshness and preserve taste, are better for the environment and increase the marketability of their products.
Many beer drinkers — especially craft beer drinkers — have long-held reservations about beer from a can, holding to the notion that beer from a tap or bottle tastes better. Some say cans impart a metallic taste to the beer, while others simply like the cachet of a bottle, equating cans with cheap and/or mass-produced brews.
When most microbreweries began distributing their beer outside of kegs, they usually did so in bottles, adding to the mystique that bottles were the only “pure” way to distribute a good craft beer. And while the decision by most small brewers to use bottles was economic, as it is much cheaper to distribute small batches in bottles than in cans, many people believed a craft beer could only come in a bottle. Therefore, even as craft brewers grew and could easily afford canning operations (think Samuel Adams or Sweetwater), most continued to bottle their beers, as that’s what the customer expected.
When Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewery, of the fantastic Dale’s Pale Ale, began canning its beers in 2002, it was an extreme outlier in the industry. However, that worm seems to have turned, and more and more craft breweries are turning to cans. In fact, most of the larger Alabama craft breweries can their beers — including Good People, Yellowhammer, Trim Tab, Avondale and Goat Island. In Mobile, Serda Brewing puts out four of its styles — Hook, Line & Lager Pilsner, Tidewater Vienna, Mobile Bay IPA and Homeport Hefeweizen — in cans.
Fairhope Brewing Co., which previously bottled a selection of its beers, is now switching to cans. I stopped by the brewery to check out the new onsite canning line and talk to owners Brian Kane and Jim Foley about why they’re now making the switch.
Kane said they “always wanted to be in cans” but waited until they thought it was economically feasible to do so.
Foley said despite what many people may think, cans have a number of advantages over bottles. “Beer has three enemies — heat, light, and oxygen,” he told me. Cans can’t do much about heat, but are superior to bottles in protecting beer from light and oxygen. Beer will both keep longer and taste better out of cans.
As for those who think cans give beer a metallic taste, Kane had a simple answer: “Pour it in a glass. That is how beer is supposed to be drunk anyways.”
Cans are also much more environmentally friendly than bottles, another issue that was important to Fairhope Brewing. “We do lots of events with groups like Weeks Bay, the Alabama Coastal Foundation and Mobile Baykeeper,” said Kane. “We want to stay true to the environmental groups that we work with.”
Furthermore, the cans allow Fairhope Brewing to be in more places in our area, as increasingly there are places that don’t allow bottles, such as pools, beaches, Mardi Gras parades and even the Grand Hotel.
Speaking of Mardi Gras, on Saturday, Feb. 16, Fairhope Brewing will be hosting its Mardi Gras Brunch, with food from Voodoo Kitchen, music from the Blow House Brass Band and special Mardi Gras beers, including King Cake Stout and Hurricane Wheat. And if you can’t make it to the taproom, you can now pick up four styles of Fairhope beers in cans at stores throughout our area: Nappie-award winner Take the Causeway IPA, I Think Therefore I Amber, Cheap Sunglasses and my go-to, Fifty One.
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