Monday, August 11, 2014

Top 10 beers that aren't in cans but should be

Last week’s blog about the best canned beers to bring to Saratoga got me thinking – what bottled beers would I most like to drink from a can? So I decided to put together yet another Top 10 list to generate discussion.
I’ll admit that this list is something of a pipe dream. Some of these beers probably never will be canned in our lifetimes for several reasons:
  • Certain breweries’ commitment to traditional brewing techniques (i.e. certain breweries’ curmudgeonly nature and refusal to change).
  • The brewery would make less profit on a six-pack of cans rather than a standalone large bottle or four-pack of bottles.
  • The brewery would have to spend a lot of money to install a canning line.

But times change, and successful businesses adapt to market trends and consumer demands;  so let’s hope these breweries will heed the call for evolution.
As per usual, the standard rules apply when I compile a Top 10 list:
  • Only one entry per brewery.
  • Only beers I’ve actually had qualify for the list (it is a subjective, personal list, after all).
  • The beer must be sold in the Capital Region and be readily accessible (or reasonably so).
  • Macros are eligible.
  • Ties are allowed if they’re of the same style.
Special criteria for this list:
  • Because of the portability and durability of cans, I am placing a bit more emphasis on drinkability than I normally would. Most of the beers on this list would be nearly as enjoyable when drank from the can as they would be when poured into a glass. So I’m not simply listing the greatest bottled beers on the market.
  • People who aren’t beer enthusiasts seem to find craft beer in a can more appealing for whatever reason. Some of the beers listed are included specifically for their mainstream appeal.
  • Ideally “every beer ever made” would comprise the entire list, but that’s kind of a lame cop-out.
NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs were taken by me.

10. Lindemans Lambics

Hannah Meeker on

I sometimes think of lambics (or other fruity beers) as the beer lover’s equivalent of an alcopop since the fruit flavor dominates the palette so much. And Lindemans line of lambics in particular are often scoffed at as being something of poser lambics among the craft beer world since they use a ton of added sugar and “natural flavors.” But dang it, they just taste so good! Most every non-beer drinker I’ve ever had try a Lindemans lambic has always enjoyed it (some people just don’t like sour and tart flavors, though). Most of these beers are very low in alcohol, somewhere between 2.5 and 4% ABV. Imagine having the ability to take cans of them to the beach, or the park or any other outdoorsy social setting. It’s something your wine drinking friends would probably enjoy as well.

9. New England Brewing’s Imperial Stout Trooper
 Imperial Stout Trooper
This would seem to be an easy addition to this list. Oskar Blues’ Ten Fidy shows that you can indeed put a big imperial stout in a can without issue (it’s probably the best beer available in cans around here, IMO). New England Brewing already cans several beers in their regular rotation like Gandhi-Bot, Sea Hag, and 668: The Neighbor of the Beast; so why not can this beer as well? I’d think that Star Wars-spoofing label would look equally as funny wrapped around a 12oz can as on a 500ml bottle.

8. Dogfish Head Festina Pêche
Sour beers are definitely en vogue these days, yet there are hardly any available in cans. That’s odd, because low gravity beers of the Gose and Berliner Weisse styles would seem ideal for the can presentation. A refreshing fruity wheat beer with a sour/tart edge to it like Festina Pêche would be exactly the kind of beer to slurp from a can while doing something outdoorsy in the warmer months.

7. Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale
photo by  John Setzler on
John Setzler on
There are a few reasons to include this beer on the list: it’s delicious; it’s super smooth; it’s only 5% ABV and fairly sessionable; it’s versatile; and it’s a great example of an authentic English ale. However, I’m including it for the fact that it would be the craft beer response to Newcastle Brown Ale which tries to pass itself off as craft even though it’s made by Heineken. Imagine if the average “Newkie” drinker was to pick this up – wouldn’t they be amazed at the difference? I’m not saying Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale could realistically compete with Newcastle, but it’d be nice to have the option.

6. Orval
Of all the beers on this list, Orval is probably the least likely to ever be canned. I include it mostly for geeky fanboy reasons; I mean, how cool would it be to have a Trappist beer in a can? Orval has a clean, refreshing palette with notes of white grape, green apples, and a dry finish. It’s a Belgian Pale Ale fermented with a strain of Brettanomyces yeast that gives it a slight tartness and a funky character. Drinking this from a can would just be a fun thing to do.

5. Jack’s Abby Jabby Brau
 Jack's Abby Jabby Brau 001
There’s certainly no shortage of lagers available in cans, which is why this is the only one I included on the list. While Jack’s Abby bottles plenty of great lagers in a variety of styles, this is the first one I’d want them to can because of its easy drinkability and refreshing, light flavor. I’d say it perfectly embodies the “Premium Lager” style as defined by BJCP Category 1C. This is a beer that does not need any gimmicks, and at 4.5% ABV it’s highly sessionable. Of all the beers on this list, it’s the one that would probably be the easiest for your BMC-swilling friends to drink and enjoy.

4. Stone IPA
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m sure you can name plenty of “better” IPAs to include in place of this one. But the fact remains Stone IPA is one of the originators of the style, one of the most wildly-distributed IPAs, and is also one of the best introductory IPAs. It’s so readily available already; wouldn’t the option of a canned version fit right into the game plan? Stone has always been a cutting-edge brewery, so it’s actually pretty surprising that they haven’t canned any of their brews. As they begin to break ground on satellite breweries in Europe and the East Coast, the time would seem right to begin canning their beers. Greg, Mitch, et al – may I recommend starting with this one?

3. Southern Tier Live or Lagunitas Pale Ale

Pale ales are more suited to the can format than IPAs because they’re not quite as bitter and many are genuinely refreshing. There’s already plenty of great examples of the style available in cans, but these two in particular I’d like to see in cans because of their great taste and high drinkability.Southern Tier Live
I don’t usually consider hoppy beers “refreshing,” because the bitterness tends to dry you out. But in the case of Southern Tier Live, it IS the best of both worlds. A light, crisp mouthfeel that’s refreshing while on the tongue. The aftertaste is remarkably clean which will prevent palate fatigue. At 5.5% ABV it’s quite sessionable, but not a session beer per se.Lagunitas Pale Ale 003
Lagunitas Pale Ale has the robustness of an IPA, but the lighter, easier-drinking body of a pale ale. The mouthfeel is noticeably thin and clean with a smooth finish. It seems so much lighter than its 6.2% ABV weight should be, which makes it dangerously drinkable.

2. Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier or Schneider Weisse Original (Tap 7)
source:  davegalajda on
davegalajda on
The Germans have no qualms about canning their pilsners and lagers, but I’ve never seen any of their other beers in cans. These are the two best examples of authentic Bavarian-style hefeweizen on the market, and are beers I always recommend to friends when we’re lucky enough to find them on tap. Both are big on flavor, ridiculously easy to drink, and thirst-quenching in the summer (and in the winter for that matter). Therefore, it would seem completely logical to offer these beers in cans since they’re exactly what you’d want to drink in situations where glass isn’t ideal (or allowed).
source:  James Cridland on
James Cridland on
1. Allagash White
It seems like all of a sudden American craft breweries are churning out quality witbiers these days. For me, they’re on par with the hefeweizen for being the best style of beer to drink in the summer because they’re light-bodied, genuinely refreshing, and still highly flavorful. Allagash White is probably the best American take on the inherently Belgian style on the market today.allgash white 003
This beer has a sweet and spicy mixture of orange citrus and light peppery notes. It’s a clean, refreshing taste across the tongue with hints of lemonade or orange juice, but without any tartness or acidic character. The finish imparts subtle clove or black pepper seasonings. Refreshing and crisp with a clean aftertaste – it’s difficult to not quaff it all down at once. At only 5.1% ABV it’s tempting to throw back several of these in a row.

For all your mainstream friends who have ever found Blue Moon or Shock Top to be at least tolerable, they will likely find Allagash White to be quite impressive. I wish I had cans of this to take to all the places and events it would ideal: the beach; the track; camping; hiking; fishing; pool parties; tailgating; etc.

What beers would you like to see in cans that aren’t currently available?

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