Here We go Again: Cans vs. Glass

A couple of days ago, I started this thread on Beer Advocate.

For those who don’t like clicking links, there was a statement from Jim Koch (of Boston Beer Company) floating around Twitter in which he states (I’m paraphrasing here) that they haven’t begun canning beer yet because you can’t put the same beer in cans that you would as in glass, so they’re still working out a way to do it. This would imply that a beer like, say, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, would need to undergo either a recipe change or a different brewing process. I had never heard about this before, so I started this thread.

I did this mainly, because there is an employee of Sierra that is quite active on the BA boards, and I was hoping that he would respond. He, of course, did not let me down.

His response:

“Torpedo in the can is exactly the same as Torpedo in the bottle. Occasionally from the same bright beer tank in packaging. There is no difference. The same is true for Pale Ale (draught Pale Ale is a different matter, that IS and always has been a different recipe.)

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Koch’s (and Mr. Daniels who corroborated) statements about there being a flavor difference between our bottles and cans. We’ve done extensive (exhaustive?) sensory and analytical analysis that suggests otherwise. In hundreds of double-blind trials we’ve found no statistical or analytical difference in flavors.

The plastic argument also doesn’t hold much water with our lab analysts. The plastic lining in cans can scalp flavor, but crown liners can scalp as much, or more, than can liners. The plastic under a crown is much denser than can liners and can have a far more detrimental effect on flavor, specifically hop flavor. Our research shows no to slight deviation in longevity and hop aroma trials over extended aging (in fact, gives a slight edge to can at 120 days.)

Hope this helps,

-Bill”

So there you have it. Seems like a very weird claim to me. I did a search on Google for anything that would support Koch’s claims, and the only relevant link I found was in an industry news letter that costs $300 to sign up for. No thanks.

I like BBC and Sam Adams; they helped me get into beer. But this seems like kind of a marketing move more than anything at this point.

I did email BBC about this, requesting any information they had that influenced their decision on cans. If I hear back from them, I will certainly update.

UPDATE

So I received a reply:

 

Dear Jason,

Thanks for the email about Samuel Adams beer. We take pride in producing great beer and equal pride in selecting the best package for ensuring that quality beer reaches you. For us, this means dark brown bottles, which absorb 95% of flavor-damaging light, and higher 6-pack holders, which prevents the light reaching the bottles. In addition, we use pry-off caps, which act as a more effective oxygen barrier than twist-off caps. Although convenient for many situations where glass is prohibited, we do not currently have plans to can our beers.

Cheers,

Guy Zagami
Consumer Relations Assistant

So there you have….well, not much. They email didn’t really touch upon any of the questions I asked pertaining to Koch’s claim, and no research evidence was supplied. Oh well. Can’t say I was expecting much.

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