It is very common to hear that bottled beer is better than canned beer. In fact, such a statement or question is not correct. Beer in cans and bottles (and even kegs) is bottled the same way. The other question is which container retains beer better?
The adepts of the advantages of glass over cans, make the same argument — beer in a can has a metallic flavor. Is this true? Let’s get to the bottom of it.
Let’s go back to the history of beer in cans. Beer was first poured into a tin can on January 24, 1935. Please note that it was a tin can! The modern aluminum cans appeared only in 1958 and the transition to this convenient and lightweight metal lasted for decades.
In Russia, or, more precisely, in the USSR, the first canned beer appeared in 1980, when the production of Golden Ring beer was set up for the Olympics. It was the same can. It didn’t come out for a long time. The Soviet Union did not produce such quality and thickness required for a beer can, and it was not expedient to buy it for foreign currency. As a result the first (and last) can line in the USSR ingloriously perished in the yard of some factory.
In modern Russia, the first company to fill beer in cans was Ochakovo. It was already a modern aluminum can. Nowadays, almost all beer cans are made of aluminum. The exception is a liter cans beer Zhiguli Bar, «collection» series. They are made of special tin.
Now let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of bottling both in cans and in bottles.
Beer in a bottle is more aesthetically pleasing. Canned beer has a reputation for being a more «simple» format. Glass is a more neutral material than tin or even aluminum. But does an aluminum can really give off some flavor? No!
Aluminum itself does not have any aftertaste and, most importantly, under natural conditions, products made of this metal cannot exist without the thinnest but very strong oxide film. Aluminum oxidizes instantly in an oxygen environment. This thin film prevents it from further oxidation and also has no taste whatsoever.
Just taste an aluminum spoon or fork to see for yourself. Yes, sensorially you will understand that it is some kind of metal, but no taste in the mouth will remain, unlike iron or copper utensils and devices.
In addition, the inner surface of the aluminum beer can is coated with a special food-grade varnish, which also reduces the contact of beer with metal. Opponents of the can claim that upon impact, the lacquer peels off and the beer begins to react with the aluminum.
Again — this is not true. The coating is very strong and you have to try very hard for it to peel or have any significant crack in it. But in this case, too, nothing bad will happen. The contact surface is too small and the acidity of the beer is not strong enough to start a reaction (plus, don’t forget the oxide film).
In addition to the fact that the aluminum can has no effect on the taste of the beer, it has several undeniable advantages that the bottle does not. Once again — bottled or canned?!
1. the can doesn’t let the light in. This is very important! Light has a detrimental effect on beer. Under the influence of ultraviolet light, the hop acids in the beer begins to decompose and because of this beer gets an unpleasant smell and taste of «skunk. This is why the bottles are usually made of dark glass. There are also transparent bottles, but beer poured into such bottles is brewed with special isomerized hop oil. Most beer spoils in the light.
2. When bottled, less oxygen enters the beer than when bottled. Modern bottling lines reduce the percentage of oxygen in the finished beer to very microscopic levels, but still, even this amount is enough to cause the beer to change its taste over time. Canned beer, in this case, gives way to glass.
So why do so many people claim they can tell the difference between beer from a can and beer from a bottle? Canned and bottled beer may differ in carbonation level (can beer may have higher CO2 content), but most people can’t feel it.
It’s more of a perception problem. If you do a blind test — «bottled or canned?» and if the beers in both packages have been properly stored, no one will notice the difference. Considering the above two factors that the aluminum can has and the storage conditions of beer at retail — it’s better to prefer beer in a can!