Thursday, 29 November 2007

out of the can

I rarely buy beer in cans. Europe isn't exactly overflowing with quality canned beer. It's usually only the pissiest of lager or a bland ale pretending to be nitro-dispensed keg. Neither feature much in my purchasing fantasies.

There are some good arguments for packaging beer in cans - preventing light damage, for example. But somehow a can lacks the aesthetic appeal of a bottle. And I can't get the negative associations out of my mind. I've only recently come to terms with buying bottled beer. Cans will need several more decades to gain my acceptance.

That said, I have drunk a few this year. This is what I've had out of the can.

Bavaria Piss. When I was desperate on the way back from an outing with the kids. I bought it at one of the imaginatively-named Kiosk chain of snack counters that you find in Dutch stations. Luckily it was ice cold and I was ice pissed. One of the advantages of taking the kids along is that they can guide me home when my brain takes a holiday. It teaches them self-reliance and independent thought. That's what I tell Dolores. And social services when they finally catch up with me.

Whitbread Gold Label. The beer that confused me about Barley Wine. Purchased, if I remember correctly, in Balderton's Kwik Save. I drank these (a pack of four) nice and warm. Much better than I expected, to be honest. Strong beer is essential when staying at my brother's. Yet perversely the shops within in walking distance sell almost none. The few available are crap. I expected only historical interest and inebriation from Gold Label. That it was a quarter-decent beer was a bonus.

Carlsberg Special Brew. My credibility must now be bouncing along at snake-belly level. The choice in Balderton keeps getting worse. A couple of years ago I could get Guinness FES. AT the risk of sounding like a total alky, given the choice between a piss-weak crap beer and a strong crap beer, I'll go for the latter. You would have thought that the change from oh-so-classy Kwik Save to Sainsbury's would have improved the beer selection in the closest supermarket. It didn't. Hence the Special Brew. I'm not sure I'd bother with this one again. Really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, unpleasant. In comparison, Gold Label is Courage Russian Stout. But I did finish the whole four pack. Not that I derived any pleasure from it. The alternatives - sobriety or drinking double the number of crappy weak beers - were just too horrific to contemplate.

10 comments:

David said...

Thankfully there is a craft beer canning revolution going on in the U.S.

Lots of small breweries are canning naturally-carbonated, unfiltered, unpasteurized beer. Check out: http://www.surlybrewing.com/cans.php

And http://www.oskarblues.com/brew/

for two of the leaders in this movement.

Ron Pattinson said...

I had heard of micros canning in the US. But is it possible to can with live yeast to condition?

Stonch said...

When I was a kid I remember me and my mate Paulo used to neck two cans of Special Brew before going out on a Friday night. Used to give the evening a flying start. We must have done so because we thought that was a cheap way to get drunk. However, considering the club we used to go to when the pub's kicked out charged only £2.50 to get in then 50p for a 33cl Labatt's Ice, I'm not sure it was a good economy.

Ron Pattinson said...

Stonch, one of my workmates in Leeds used to start Friday night with a pint of cider and a double gin (mixed together). It wasn't as disgusting as you would expect. Definitely several steps up from Special Brew.

The Beer Nut said...

My favourite canned beers are Rodenbach and Timmerman's Kriek, particularly when the bag to be checked in at Brussels airport is fast approaching the 20kg and clinking like Hell's milkfloat.

Andy said...

Probably I know nothing and it makes no difference but isn't it much more expensive to get into canning beer than bottling? Do companies do contract canning and have a set up that relies on all the beer to be canned being pastuerised and filtered?

brendan said...

It is possible to can with live yeast. It is a sealed environment same as a bottle. Surly in Minnesota cans their beer unpasteurized and live.

jakester said...

Andy

Our canning machine cost $65,000. (that's about 23 euro, last I checked!)A similarly sized 12 oz bottling machine is at least twice that much. That's why we went with cans.

By the way, we do filter, except the weisse, for stabilization reasons, but don't pasteurize.

Ron Pattinson said...

jakester, really interesting to hear that a canning line is cheaper than a bottliong line. Good stuff.

Zythophile said...

Somerfield (UK supermarket) used to sell a canned own-label hefeweisse ... bizarre thing to do, since any Somerfield shopper who knew what hefeweisse was (and I doubt there were many) wouldn't have wanted a canned version - tho' actually it was OK.