Beer on public radio

On today’s Marketplace program is a short piece on the burgeoning movement of canning beer amongst craft brewers.

What I’m about to say is a matter of some debate, but good beer — really good beer — often comes from microbreweries. They typically cost more, but conventional wisdom holds microbrews are better than mass-produced fizzy yellow stuff in part because they usually come in bottles.

Whose conventional wisdom, I wonder. Certainly nobody I know.

Anyway, it’s worth a few minutes of your time. Go and give a listen.

Oh, and if you can leave comments, see if you can straighten out the doofus who said “American beer aficionadi tend to drink their beer *from the bottle.*” (I can’t seem to leave comments on the story.)

Baxter Brewing – a new craft brewer using cans

“Cans are in.” Or maybe that should be: “Cans are the new black”.

I just received a press release about a new brewery opening up in Maine: Baxter Brewing.

This is good news. More and more often I am finding that I need my beverages to be portable, and cans are able to go more places than bottles. It’s nice to have more options, though by the sound of it they’re not going to be distributed very widely. Even so, nothing will hit the market until the fall.

Even better, they’re re-purposing a historic building, which is something that I really like.

Even better than that, Luke Livingston is a blogger. He’s living the dream, man.

Press release follows:

Plans were announced today to develop a new craft brewery, located in the historic Bates Mill complex in downtown Lewiston, Maine, which will begin shipping beer in September of this year.   Baxter Brewing Co will be the first craft brewery in northern New England to combine high quality, hand-crafted beer with the unparalleled convenience and environmentally-friendly technology of aluminum cans.

“The state of Maine is aching for full-flavored, American-style ales and the environmentally-friendly, beer-friendly and highly portable can,” says Baxter’s founder and president, Luke Livingston. “We are here to combine the two and reward the thirsty residents of Maine with the beer they want in the packaging they need.”

The Baxter brewery will feature a 30 barrel brewhouse manufactured by Newlands Systems Inc of Abbotsford, B.C., Canada and a state-of-the-art canning line – capable of filling thirty cans a minute – from Cask Brewing Systems of Calgary, Alberta, CA. The facility, which promises to be like no other in the state, will be open daily for brewery tours, tastings and special events, as well as a fully-stocked retail shop featuring both beer and Baxter schwag.

“We want our brewery itself to be a fun and vibrant place that people not only want to visit, but want to keep coming back to,” adds Livingston. “The brewery itself will truly be a destination, like no other production brewery in the state.”

Baxter Brewing Co is the brainchild of Luke Livingston who moved to Auburn, Maine at the age of seven and now resides in Portland. He is a graduate of Edward Little High School (Auburn, ME) and has a BA in communications and film from Clark University (Worcester, MA). He is the author of and a co-founder of the Maine Beer Writers Guild. Joining him is veteran Head Brewer Michael LaCharite.

LaCharite is a world-class Brewmaster and Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) certified judge who brings with him more than 15 years of professional brewing experience. Before coming to Baxter, LaCharite was a founding partner and brewer for Casco Bay Brewing Co. (Portland, ME) in 1994.

A groundbreaking ceremony commemorating the adaptive re-use of one of Lewiston-Auburn’s most iconic venues and demonstrating innovative construction design is expected within the next couple of weeks.

NPR: Craft Beer in a Can

National Public RadioNational Public Radio‘s Weekend Edition Saturday has a piece on the success of craft beer in cans. This is especially true in Anchorage, Alaska, which recently stopped recycling glass, resulting in a surge of canned beer sales.

Craft Beer In A Can? A Gutsy Move Is Paying Off

[John] Burket is an early believer in the potential of good canned beer. He’s a beer lover and a local beverage distributor in Anchorage. Burket thought cans would be easier than bottles to take camping, fishing or hiking. They’re lighter to ship. And he says the beer actually tastes better, too. Cans protect the ingredients from sunlight and oxygen, which degrade the flavor over time.

“The product is every bit as good in a can, possibly even better,” he says. “Everybody who does try it is shocked — and loves it.”

But Burket didn’t have many converts in Anchorage until early this year, when the city stopped recycling glass. Since then, he’s watched the market for good canned beer explode. In Anchorage, the cans often cost a dollar or two more a six-pack than similar beer in bottles. But Burket says even that doesn’t seem to matter.

We have long been proponents of not shunning cans. Oskar Blues makes some really good stuff (an eighty percent increase in sales is outstanding) and I was just tickled to death when I discovered that Brooklyn Lager comes in cans.

It’s always nice to see (or hear) a positive beer story in the mainstream media. It’s worth a listen.

(via my lovely wife)

Wall of beer cans

Beer can collection/art at Studio on Fire

Boy, that’s pretty.

There’s a better half of a thousand cans up there and darn near all are (diligently) cracked open from the bottom, preserving the original seal. Also out of all the cans hanging, there’s only a handful of duplicates. We are quite proud of this assemblage of our cultural history and all of us, at one time or daily, have to be reminded to get the hell back to work and stop staring into abyss of an unfortunately long-gone and better era.

Studio on Fire is a design and letterpress house in Minneapolis, and they put up this great wall in their office. As if I could do anything like this where I work.

Studio on Fire: “It’s Superior.”

(via Boing Boing)

Brooklyn Lager…in cans!

Beer-a-Day #170

So, I was at my preferred retailer the other day, buying up another batch beer I’ve never had before, when I spotted something I never expected to see.

Brooklyn Lager cansCans of Brooklyn beer.

Get out! When did this happen?! Why wasn’t I informed?

Too bad the cans are black. You’d think they would have learned the lesson of Miller Genuine Draft in black cans.

So, while I’ve written about Brooklyn Lager before, I couldn’t not do it for the Beer-a-Day project.

Pretty amber color, off-white head. I don’t have a bottle to do a side-by-side comparison, but this sure is tasty. Brooklyn remains one of my favorite breweries.

Brooklyn Lager

The Great Can vs. Bottle Debate

This is a guest article by David Flaherty of  Grapes and Grains, based in New York City.

Get your filthy hands off my cans!

Get your filthy hands off my beer can!

Within the wine, beer and spirits world, passions run deep. And so do the divisions. Whether it is beer vs. wine, red vs. white, or vodka vs. bourbon, the warring camps of devotees are steadfast and thirsty for the other’s blood. Whether it is double- vs. triple-distilled, screw cap vs. cork, or old world vs. new world, you’re going to get some pretty set opinions. “A screw cap on my wine? I ought a bust you in the lip and drown you in a vat of Yellow Tail Shiraz!” But change in the beer world is coming…you afraid of the can? Well, my friend, it may be time to look again.

So often the choices we make in what we drink tell us a lot about the person. Like wearing an Armani suit, strutting around with a bottle of Sam Adams Utopia is an indicator of class, style and attitude. I remember when just the sight of my bottles of microbrew was called out as being “fancy”, and I was regularly taunted by can-wielding upperclassmen. And of course in this case, “fancy” meant arrogant, or high-falutant, like I was some sort of beer dandy or something. Well, look who laughing now, you Schlitz-drinkin’ d-bags…and no, you can’t have a bottle of my homebrew. And now, the door has opened even further and we’re seeing the unthinkable: microbrews in cans. What the f? A can?! “But only swill comes out of a can.” “Only those that care nothing about their beer would disgrace it with such a filthy vessel,” the naysayers rally. And you’d be surprised just who is saying such things.

A few years ago, Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) shocked the beer world with his blatant disregard of the can. In 2005, he released what he called the “Beer Drinkers Bill of Rights” to ensure better beer for one and all, and stated, “Beer shall be offered in bottles, not cans, so that no brew is jeopardized with the taste of metal.” Uproar ensued in the microbrew community, especially at my beloved Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado where they have taken can technology to new heights and are the pioneers in leading the movement away from the beloved bottle.

cans and bottlesThe evolution of the can is a fascinating one. As recently as the 1930′s, tin cans could not hold beer without exploding. And then came the advent of the liner. Initially made of vinyl (and fancy polymers today), they sealed the can, and prevented all liquid contact with the metal. Over the years, the technology has improved ten-fold and the fear of tainting our precious bevies with metal has become irrational. In fact, its seeming more and more like the can is the perfect vessel for beer.

I was fortunate to meet Dale Katechis, the founder of Oskar Blues brewery a few years ago at Brewtopia. There in the midst of all these breweries and their countless bottles was a table filled with cans. Huh? It seemed so strange. Yet for Dale, it was a subtle war cry; a shot across the stern of the micro beer community. Dale’s Pale Ale was not just a great beer, but also a new philosophy: the Can is King. Backed by the belief in “less air, less light”, Dale was upbeat, passionate and grounded in his renegade ways. And the beer? Unbelievable. Featuring caramel toffee notes highlighted by fresh hops and an intoxicatingly smooth balance, it is delicious, and was deemed the Top Colorado Brewed Beer by the Rocky Mountain News in November, as well as the New York Times pick as the Best Pale Ale in America in 2005.

So fast-forward a few years, and cans are now popping up everywhere in the craft beer world. Breweries like Butternuts in upstate New York, New Belgium in Ft. Collins, Colorado, and most recently Sly Fox from Pennsylvania, to name a few, have begun canning. They’re on the band wagon, and are espousing the advantages of the can: better protection from light and air, easier storage and transport, as well as a quicker cooling time for your tailgate fiestas. So what does that mean for us, the beer drinkers?

Well, frankly, better beer. Be it canned or bottled, brewers are testing and reinventing the ways we package our prized beverages. Concerned with the freshness of their beer, every detail is being scrutinized (and argued over). But honestly, bottles aren’t going away. The only thing that’s really changing? You’re going to find some damn tasty microbrews in cans. So embrace them, my friends. Embrace them without shame. The can will serve you well.

[Ed.: We agree. Do not shun cans.]

german_beer_girlsDavid Flaherty usually waxes poetical about beer (and wine) at Grapes and Grains.

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