Samuel Adams, long a pioneer in the craft beer world, recently announced that they are finally going to offer their beer in cans, starting early this summer with Boston Lager and
Alpine Spring Summer Ale (oops! I had this wrong in the original post).
Several excellent craft breweries have been producing exceptional canned beers for years, so it begs the question – why did it take Sam Adams so long?
Jenn Abelson of the Boston Globe does a wonderful job of chronicling the long and tedious process, one in which Jim Koch and company rejected conventional cans and forged their own path. They considered unique shapes, a can with a completely open top, one with two holes so you could smell the beer, and countless vessels topped with odd-shaped openings to address the main issue of drinking from cans – you can’t smell the beer.
Reading the Boston Globe article, it’s pretty clear that the folks at Ball, the new can’s manufacturer, have a huge amount of patience as design after design was rejected. Jim Koch gladly takes the blame for dragging things out for almost two years, telling Jenn Abelson:
“I’ve been the holdout,” acknowledged Koch, who founded the company 29 years ago. “I’ve been the purist.”
In the end, the design isn’t that different from conventional cans, with the exception of a slightly wider mouth opening and a broader concave curve where the bottom lip meets the edge of the can. The combination gives the can a unique hourglass shape at the top, and will probably make drinking from the can more ergonomically satisfying, but what will it do for the flavor of the brew?
In the press release announcing the cans, sensory expert Roy Desrochers says:
“The flared lip and wider top of the new Sam Can work in concert to deliver the beer in a way that makes the flavor closer to drinking out of a glass. Although subtle, this can delivers a more pronounced, more balanced flavor experience – something that was very important to the brewers. The extended lip of the can also creates a smoother, more comfortable overall drinking experience.”
A taste will tell if it as worth the long wait, but for a brewer this large to wait this long to can their beers, I say it had better be very special indeed.
Right now, I use a plastic cup with me when I drink canned beer in places where glass isn’t allowed, as drinking from the can robs me of a big part of the sensory experience, the beer’s aroma. If this can solves that problem (or simply makes drinking from the can better than bad) then I guess it was worth the delay.
If it’s the same experience, just with a different shape, I feel sorry that Sam Adams missed out on two years of canned beer sales, which probably is not an insignificant amount of duckets.
It looks like we won’t have to wait much longer to experience the difference for ourselves.