I’ve been drinking a lot of Dale’s Pale Ale lately, using it to soothe my gimpy back. Last night I found myself up in the mancave with a can of Dale’s and no glass. Now, I’m fanatical about using glassware when drinking beer, and have been known to take a bottle out of someone’s hand and pour it into a tulip for them. It may be borderline “beerdouchicus” behavior, but I hate to see good beer suffocated by its own packaging.
Last night was different, because my back was pretty bad, I was already in my comfy chair, and a painful trip down and back up the stairs stood between me and a proper vessel.
So I decided to rough it, and I cracked open the can and took a sip. Sure, the full bouquet of the beer was muted, but it was still a pretty tasty dose of medicine. As I sat there feeling like a mainstream beer drinker (which is the nicest way I can put it), it occurred to me that cans are a pretty mainstream vessel.
Beer aficionados have long considered cans to be inferior to bottles. For many years you couldn’t find a truly “craft” beer in a can – they were for the Buds and Natty Light’s of the world, not the Sam Adamses or the Anchor Steams.
This perception is changing, and beer geeks are learning that cans are actually superior to bottles in every way – light protection, ease of storage, environmental friendliness, durability, you name it. All except one: Image.
Put a can of Avery White Rascal next to a bottle of the same beer, and I bet most beer geeks would reach for the bottle. Even though we know that cans are superior, we’ve been trained that real geeks go for the glass. It’s ingrained in our psyches – fancy beers come in bottles. I’ll admit that every time I crack open a can of Dale’s Pale Ale, I feel a sense of folksy pride, like I’m a regular guy enjoyin’ a good old-fashioned ‘Merican beer.
I wonder if this goes the other way as well. I wonder if folks who drink only canned beer might not try some craft selections if they’re offered in cans. These guys and gals might think bottles are for metrosexual high-falutin’ Mini Cooper drivers, not salt of the earth types like them. Nothing says “unpretentious” like a can, just like nothing says “fancy man” like a corked bottle of beer. If the price is right, they might bite.
I doubt the potential mainstream appeal of cans has factored into breweries deciding to package their wares in aluminum, but I wonder if it’ll help craft beer cross over more quickly into Middle America.
I guess we’ll know for sure when you can get Back in Black at Wal*Mart and we see Dale Earnhardt Jr. piloting the Oskar Blues Chevy in the Talladega 500. They’d probably sell a bunch of product then, as race fan’s would figure Dale’s Pale Ale was his daddy’s recipe!