What is old is new again. Truer words were never spoken where Churchkey Can Co. brewing is concerned. The other night I went to Brewforia and my buddy Rick had picked these up on a recent trip through Washington. The concept is simple and as old as metal packaging itself. Put a liquid in a totally sealed flat top can, and pop the top with a churchkey (can opener for those that aren’t familiar with the vernacular).
This beer was brewed collaboratively with Two Beers brewing and Churchkey Can Company in Seattle Washington. The particular beer I had was their Pilsner style lager.
1) Its gimmicky. There I said it, this is just an attempt to be different for difference sake. What is wrong with a regular can? It is certainly more convenient than having to find an opener every time you want to crack open a brew. Have you ever tried to find a can opener? I don’t know about you, but in my house where we have a constant parade of kids and their friends and four people who regularly cook, I’m lucky if I can find one of my 5 bottle openers I keep around. Some say it is great for camping…I say, Good Luck! I’d be beating this can with a rock in two days, tops! Oh, but it comes with its own can opener, problem solved, right? My house has a way of swallowing up certain items. Some day I will find a huge stash of measuring tapes, can openers, pens, and socks…all hiding and mocking me. But maybe you aren’t like me, and can keep track of things. Hope you don’t like this beer then, or you will have can openers coming out your ears.
2) You can kind of tell from the photo, but the top of the can is all wet. So it has to be completely clean before you pop the top, because the very first thing it does is overflow. This beer had been sitting on the counter for a good 5 minutes before I opened it, and it still overflowed. I couldn’t pop that second hole quick enough. And good luck keeping the top clean when you are camping! Of course dirt and a sore back is all part of the “experience” so nevermind, you enjoy your dirty beer.
3) It seems forced…you know? I’ve never seen a beer company named after the vessel the beer comes in. As far as I know there is no Bottle Brewery, or Growler Brewing, or Sixtel Beer Works. Of course there is Mason Jar Distillery, but I call Bullshit on that too. It seems unnecessarily limiting and short sighted. But they’re locked in. First time they brew a beer in anything other than a flat topped can I’m crying foul!
4) Can technology has come a long way…Embrace it. Part of the really cool thing about the Craft Beer revolution is that it is spawning some really great innovations, both in the liquid inside the vessel and the vessels themselves. Cans now have vents built in for smoother pouring, the linings are getting better so contamination is no longer a problem, hell they are even taking growler technology to a new level both in the filling of them and in dispensing the liquid inside them. This has all been done to improve the quality of the product inside the vessel. This does none of that. Is a matter of fact I could easily argue that this is a giant leap backwards in making sure the beer we all enjoy is crisp, fresh, and CLEAN! (See comments 1 and 2)
5) Finally, and most importantly this is damn good beer! I really, really liked this beer. It was a great blend of pilsner crispness and biscuity body with a perfect compliment of lager yeast and aging. This beer rocks, but they put it in this really dumb can. This is super annoying to me for all the reasons I stated above. It would be one thing if the beer sucked, then who cares, put it in a shoe for all I care, but this beer is good and deserves an appropriate package.
I know there is a certain cool factor here, and the star from Entourage Adrian Grenier is an investor in this concept and brewery, giving it some mass appeal. But once all the hoopla dies, what you are left with is a really well made beer in a maddening can. I’m afraid that what they are celebrating at this brewery will ultimately be their demise, and that makes me sad because I really like this beer.
So what do you think? Am I being too quick to not embrace this retro concept? Or do you think like I do that this brewery has planted the seeds to their own destruction? Let us know in the comments.