Back in the days when I was a fledgling tippler of more discriminating tastes (or so I thought), I arrived at the seemingly obvious conclusion about the superiority of bottles over cans for beverages of a refreshing nature. Since my journey began, I’ve engaged in myriad experiments to test that theory. The results state, unequivocally, that I was wrong. Cans are the real hero.
To start with, there’s the logistical argument. Namely, once the delicious 12 to 16 ounces of liquid have been liberated, the can you’re left with is far lighter than is the bottle. Should you need to bash someone in the head—presumably because their politics are different from yours and that’s what we’ve become—the can won’t do much damage.
That’s actually a plus. In the heat of the moment, you may think you want to fully crack someone’s skull open, but unless an assault charge and jail time are part of your five-year plan, it’s best not to follow through with that inclination.
Should you choose to dispose of them in a more typical fashion and not upside someone’s head, cans still win. Bottles are heavy, and sacks full of them clang around a lot when you’re carrying them to the curb, alerting the neighbors. Perhaps you could recycle them, but same problem plus why do you hate the earth? Cans do bang together a little, although not with the majestic glory of a glass choir engaging in a walk of shame. Cans sneak out the back door, alerting few. Unlike the bottle, cans still value discretion.
The Utilitarian Argument
Before they can get to that point, though, cans are still superior. They’re more portable, more stackable, and get colder faster. With a little ice, you can get a beer frosty in about a minute using the spin technique. People claim it works on bottles, but I’ve never had luck. Cans plus ice plus one minute of rolling, and you’ve got a coldie.
That’s right—whether camping or fishing or hiking or partying at your kid’s birthday soiree, the can is far more discreet, easier to chill, and still easier to dispose of. Plus, if the kids get all amped on cake and start walloping one another, no assault charges.
Beyond the utility of cans lies a bigger stumbling block: flavor. Aesthetics. Beverages of a refreshing nature lose something in the can. The delicate taste and aroma are damaged, resulting in a subpar drinking experience. Maybe this was once true. Keystone made its initial reputation on “Bottled Beer Taste in a Can.” That was technically accurate, even if the taste was still Keystone.
Look at Those Cans
Now, though, one can find a panoply of beers in cans. Founders Brewing, maker of highly delicious ales and lagers and all their permutations, offers several of its more traditional brews in convenient 15-packs. New Belgium also offers cans, although in the slightly inferior (if traditional) 12-pack. As flavor goes, these are identical to their bottled brothers and sisters.
All over your local liquor store, assuming you don’t shop at an inferior store and need to find a new one, you’ll discover a range of craft and micro-brews sitting there, waiting for you to say “Look at those cans” before gently taking them into your hand, lovingly holding them, and placing them against your lips. You could also pour the contents into a glass since the dishwasher eliminates any potential walks of shame (although I prefer to conserve water).
Purists out there will argue against this attitude, against the can in general. Maybe it’s because they believe the lies about flavor or maybe they insist on PBR because it was sold in cans before cans were cool. You know what, in either case let them insist. This isn’t about them, it’s about you. So crack open a cold one, enjoy that deliciously refreshing liquid as it hits your lips, and bask in the knowledge that should the purists really push you, you won’t be getting arrested for assault.