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Craft Canning Revolution?

Setting aside the 8 or 10 people who remember when beer from cans had an off flavor, the rise of craft beer in a can is probably the next bump in the craft beer market. Cans are cheaper to buy and cheaper to ship, and they hold flavor better. It is quite possible they hold flavor longer, but it's not an experiment I'm willing to try as it means arbitrarily leaving beer un-drunk. Over the last few years, the beer in a can market has grown significantly.
The Genius of Mobile Canning
I spoke with Augie Carton of Carton Brewing, who had canning as a major part of his original business plan. He said when he called a company to arrange to buy a canner, they directed him to one of their newest customers, a guy with a regional canning truck. Rather than have to invest in a very, very expensive and technical piece of equipment, Carton was able to contract with a company who would come out as needed, pump beer into the truck and roll filled cans out of it and into the brewery's cooler. No muss no fuss.
Mobile canning lines are increasingly important as demand continues to outstrip production. I started buying cans after having learned the early lessons of the craft beer revolution. If you want good beer, you have to support god beer. I love the notion of craft beer cans, so I started to make it a point to buy in cans whenever possible. As I asked around, I clearly wasn't alone in this disposition. Cans cool down faster than bottles and stay cooler longer. Not only that, but they travel better.

A Shelf Space Solution
The whole pack-it-in-pack-it-out notion that brought craft beer in a can to prominence helped kickstart the canning revolution, sure, but as the battle for shelf space rages on, canning just makes sense for breweries hoping to grow. Cans take less space than bottles, which was what first appealed to the beer barons. You can fit more in a truck and, therefore, increase your profit margin. Cans aren't quite as cheap as kegs, but they are the next best thing.
What is really interesting is that the larger beer companies use their canning abilities to drive prices down. A bottled six pack is more expensive than a canned six pack, though both have 72 ounces of beer. Because canned beer was marketed so long as cheap beer, charging the same for bottles and cans seemed a bridge too far. No so with craft beer in cans. Craft beer drinkers are paying for quality, not quantity. They don't begrudge the smaller brewers a couple of cents an ounce, for the opposite reason.
Freeing Good Beer
Not too long ago, going to a picnic or sporting event meant dumbing down your beer. Bottles are a pain in the ass when tailgating. Last year, I went to see the Mets and hung out drinking Old Chub in the parking lot. A decade ago, getting Sierra Nevada Pale Ale would have been a coup. As canning becomes more pervasive, those of us who prefer bigger, browner beers can have something other than an IPA when we're out and about.
When I traveled, I would sometimes try and bring a growler home to try new beer and to share Eastern Shore beer. It's no longer necessary. I can bring Twin Lakes Pale Ale (for example) along with me without worrying about how it travels. A few of the other local breweries are hoping to begin canning soon. Some are buying their own equipment and some are looking into mobile. This is a good thing that's just going to keep getting better.

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