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Photography by: Peter Valli

Nice Cans

by Duncan Clauss | Aspen magazine | September 26, 2012

The Aspen Brewing Company’s Duncan Clauss says ditch the beer bottle; aluminum cans are where it’s at

In their early days, craft brewers likened themselves to winemakers, skilled producers who cared about flavor and complexity. They packaged some specialty beers in wine bottles and did the rest in beer bottles, the traditional packaging for higher-end commercial beers like Heineken and Stella Artois.

But in 2002, Oskar Blues, a small brewery in Lyons, Colorado, began canning its signature Dale’s Pale Ale. It was a revolution in the making.

Since then, Oskar Blues and a growing number of microbreweries—Fort Collins–based New Belgium, Pennsylvania-based Sly Fox, and Cisco Brewers in Nantucket, Massachusetts, among others—have quickly expanded the canned-beer market. Canning, it turns out, is a superior form of packaging. Ever popped the cap on a bottled beer only to be met with the overwhelming stench of skunk? You have glass to thank for that; light is the main cause of beer spoilage.

Cans, of course, block out all those rays. They seal better than a bottle. And a polymer lining keeps the can from giving off a metallic taste. Cans also provide a lot more room for design, and the craft-brew world has responded with cans ranging from the whimsical to the bold.

The Grog Shop on E. Durant Avenue began selling Dale’s two years ago and quickly expanded its offerings. “Perceptions are changing,” says manager Roger Carlsen, noting that canned-microbrew sales still lag behind bottles but that the gap is slowly closing. Carlsen attributes the growth to convenience. “You can throw them in the back of your truck, and they are much lighter to take biking or camping,” he says.

When deciding how best to package beer from the Aspen Brewing Company, the answer came easily. Bottles be damned! Our IPA in a can should hit liquor stores and restaurants by season’s end.