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Beer in cans versus bottles


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#1 emannths

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 02:09 PM

Beer in cans and wine in tetra bricks are an abomination.


I actually think these types of packaging may be better from a functional standpoint. Cans are opaque, preventing the skunking of even poorly-stored beer, and they're lighter and easier to stack and store. They're probably the most oxygen-resistant packaging, helping to keep beer fresher longer. And they don't break if dropped. The downsides seem to be limited to aesthetics and the fact that they don't contribute to your supply of bottles for homebrew. Wine in tetra bricks is nice because I can close the pack and eliminate most of the oxygen in the process by squeezing the pack as I tighten the top. For someone that rarely finished a bottle in a single day, I like having this option. It also tends to be lighter and more efficient from a storage perspective. Aesthetics stink though, and I know nothing one way or the other on the merits of wine aged in tetra bricks.

#2 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 06:54 PM

It might be more the fact that there is yet to be a good wine in a tetra brick (at least, I haven't had any). Tetra wines are great for cooking where you only really need a winelike flavour, but it's never something to be served as drinkable.
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#3 ScoopKW

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:13 AM

Beer in cans and wine in tetra bricks are an abomination.



And you're basing this on what?

Our brewery is borrowing heavily to put in a canning line. We're doing it because canned beer is superior in quality to bottled beer.

Canned beer doesn't get lightstruck, doesn't oxidize and comes to temperature faster. Draught beer from a stainless keg is slightly better than cans. Beer coming out of the bright tanks at the brewery is much better than both kegs OR cans. Bottles are a distant, distant fourth.

Why do you think Sierra Nevada is moving their Pale Ale to cans? Because they care, that's why.

If you don't believe me, find a can and a bottle of Young's Chocolate Stout. Or a can and a bottle of Guinness. Decant them into identical glasses at the same temperature. If cans don't win every time, there's something radically wrong.

Edited by ScoopKW, 15 June 2011 - 11:15 AM.

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#4 BadRabbit

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:22 AM

If you don't believe me, find a can and a bottle of Young's Chocolate Stout. Or a can and a bottle of Guinness. Decant them into identical glasses at the same temperature. If cans don't win every time, there's something radically wrong.



I didn't think that Guinness in the bottle and Guinness in the tall can were even supposed to be the same beer.

Edited by BadRabbit, 15 June 2011 - 11:22 AM.


#5 ScoopKW

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:27 AM

I didn't think that Guinness in the bottle and Guinness in the tall can were even supposed to be the same beer.


Check the alcohol percentage of both, if they're the same, it's the same recipe. Although the bottled Guinness purchased in N. America is probably brewed in Canada, and the can is brewed in Dublin.

The reason there is a night and day taste difference is because cans are THAT MUCH BETTER than bottles.

EDIT -- That being said, it's better to go with the Young's taste test -- same beer, same brewery. The canned product is sublime. In the bottle, most of the subtle chocolate flavors are lost from oxidation.

Edited by ScoopKW, 15 June 2011 - 11:32 AM.

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#6 BadRabbit

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:35 AM



I didn't think that Guinness in the bottle and Guinness in the tall can were even supposed to be the same beer.


Check the alcohol percentage of both, if they're the same, it's the same recipe. Although the bottled Guinness purchased in N. America is probably brewed in Canada, and the can is brewed in Dublin.

The reason there is a night and day taste difference is because cans are THAT MUCH BETTER than bottles.

EDIT -- That being said, it's better to go with the Young's taste test -- same beer, same brewery. The canned product is sublime. In the bottle, most of the subtle chocolate flavors are lost from oxidation.


The Guinness Extra Stout that you usually see in bottles is from a different line than the can (which is from the Draught line). The Draught is also apparently available in bottles though I've never seen it and I used to run bars that specialized in beers.

http://www.guinness....us/thebeer.html

That said, I agree with you that beer tastes better in the can.

Edited by BadRabbit, 15 June 2011 - 11:35 AM.


#7 ScoopKW

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:40 AM

The only difference between the draught line and the bottling line is the volume of CO2 in the beer. Otherwise, Extra Stout is Extra Stout -- made from the same recipe of pale malt, flaked barley and roasted barley. (Guinness is one of the simplest beer recipes out there. Just goes to prove that "simple" doesn't mean "ordinary.")
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#8 Deus Mortus

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 12:10 PM

It continues bothering me buying beer in a can, I do because it tastes better, but my mother is an addiction therapist and I grew up being told only alcoholics buy beer in cans because it's cheap. I know it's better beer, but I still feel like people will think I'm an alcoholic.
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#9 ScoopKW

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 12:20 PM

That will change. (And I'm surprised that's the attitude in the Netherlands. I thought Holland was a progressive, sensible country.)

It's up to beer lovers to educate their peers about the superiority of canned beer. We'll meet a lot of resistance at first. But we have quality on our side. They'll come around to our way of thinking eventually.


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#10 Deus Mortus

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 12:36 PM

That will change. (And I'm surprised that's the attitude in the Netherlands. I thought Holland was a progressive, sensible country.)

It's up to beer lovers to educate their peers about the superiority of canned beer. We'll meet a lot of resistance at first. But we have quality on our side. They'll come around to our way of thinking eventually.


[Cue Joan Baez music]

"Weeeeeeee shall ov-er-come. Overcome some dayyyyyyy."


It isn't really the Netherlands, it's my upbringing in specific, in the liquor stores here you are starting to find good canned beers, but a lot is being bottled in ceramic bottles, though that really isn't new.
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#11 OliverB

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:16 PM

I've never done a taste test and the beer you mention is not on my radar (I don't like stout). Have never seen a sierra in a can, I'd try it and compare it though. But my personal guess would be that it's cheaper to fill it in cans than bottles, no? I used to love Sierra Nevada, was my favorite for many years, but I drifted away from it. Either they changed the recipe or my taste changed. Favorite right now is Kona Brewing Longboard Island Lager, and some red ales. And Schneider Weisse and Erdinger Weissbier, which are my absolute favorites, but they are too expensive here. Part of it for me is probably also that I am Bavarian and the only beer you ever could find in a can (and you had to search) was the cheapest swill you can find. So it might as well be a inborn perception :laugh:

That aside, I simply don't like cans, not for beer, not for soda. They taste and feel metallic to me. Now, I never pour my beer into a glass (I guess an abomination all to itself, LOL) and a beer in a can gets warm much faster (or seems to at least) than one in a nice cold bottle.

The brown bottles prevent light quite well and beer never lasts long enough around here to oxidize or go bad. I used to hate the little 0.33 l bottles here in the US, but now actually prefer them over the German 0.5 l, less beer getting warm and flat.

I noticed Sierra went away from the screw top caps for freshness (they say) which makes sense, they never seemed to be attached all that tight. But I'd balk at Sierra in cans. By the way, where is that info from? I just checked their website and it only shows beautiful frosty bottles.

Beer in cans just has that PBR homeless guy kind of touch to it (IMO). I am always excited to get a glass bottle of a nice Pilsner on Lufthansa flights, instead of the Heineken stuff in a can.

As I said, personal opinion, I can't even remember the last time I bought a beer in a can. I did find a forgotten case of PBR in a safeway cart a while ago, free beer! And I did buy the Guiness with that little fuzz maker inside when it came out, seemed pretty ok, but I'm not a fan of that beer. Unless everybody fills into cans I'll stick with bottles :-)

And I won't buy wine in tetrabricks, I don't even like screw caps on wine bottles, I like the cork opening ceremony. :cool:
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#12 ScoopKW

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 04:05 PM

Sierra is going to have Pale in both cans and bottles for awhile, but their goal is to be mostly cans in the future.

http://beernews.org/...ater-this-year/


I realize that most Americans think cans=Pabst and bottles=Russian River. But that simply is not the case. Bottles are inferior in every possible way -- from quality to longevity to cost to environmental impact.

As for German beers, the reason they're still in bottles is because of public perception (which I find odd -- Germany is generally known for their insistence on quality). But also because Germany's recycling laws make it economically foolhardy to put beer in cans. With the taxes and one-way deposits, it actually costs more to put beer in cans. Which I find astounding.

When Sierra rolls out their pale in cans, do a side-by-side. But you have to decant both into glass. (If you don't decant, you never get the full flavor and nose from the beer. That would be like drinking vintage wine out of the bottle without giving it a chance to breathe.)
Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

#13 OliverB

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 04:43 PM

I'll definitely do the taste test, my curiosity is sparked!

In Germany you buy a case of 20 bottles and return it empty when you get more, nobody throws the bottles into recycling. They reuse the bottles several times (I forget their lifetime) before they are recycled. The deposit is big enough to make you want to return it, and since you have the case anyway, not a cardboard box, you might as well put the empties in there for return. Cans are seen as garbage (even if you can recycle them) and have a bad stigma.

I just read an article about German beer and how brewers from other countries, especially the US, are stealing their glory with all the different craft beers brewed here, whereas things in Germany are done the way they've always been done with little to no change, except to where they can make the process cheaper. I guess at some major beer competition most "german style" brewed beers that won medals were actually brewed here in the US! Oh the blasphemy!! :cool:

Things like experimenting with different hops and when to add the hops to the process etc are - it says - rarely explored in Germany. Interesting and somewhat makes sense to me. I doubt I can find an Island Lager or something comparable there. I grew up in Frankonia, where I'm still lucky enough to find a lot of small breweries making excellent beers that are very regional, always fun when I go there once or twice a year. But the diversity is much higher here. I don't think the Reinheitsgebot is even law anymore since the European Community, but even with in it's guidelines I guess there are many things you can do that they don't do.

You're of course right with the beer in glass as well, if it's for really tasting and comparing, you need a glass. If it's just for thirst or next to the bbq or the pool, a bottle is just so much easier. And fits so well in my hand ;-)
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#14 Foodietopo

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 03:16 PM

I've had beer tasting at both the Kirin company and the Yebisu museum here in Japan. At both places, we were offered draught beer and beer in the can. The whole purpose of offering beer in a can was to teach us to pour the beer in a proper glass. After the demonstration, we were asked to drink from the glass and drink directly from the can and the taste was night and day.

The lesson: decant your beer!

Almost all beer in Japan come from a can with the exception of larger bottles which are often offered in restaurant. My father-in-law who drinks Asahi, Kirin and Premium will often buy glass bottles for celebrations, but we drink cans for the rest of the year.

I guess it's all about a question of perception.
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#15 emannths

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 05:26 PM

Hey ScoopKW--can you "can condition" beer? I have to imagine the answer is yes, but while there are plenty of beers with labels touting "bottle-conditioned," I don't think I've ever seen a can proclaiming its contents to be "can-conditioned." Are there any other process limitations with can? And how does the pressure rating compare to 12oz crown caps and corked and caged 750ml bottles? Would a brewer ever run up against a ceiling when making a highly-carbonated beer?

#16 ScoopKW

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 05:52 PM

Yes, you can Can Condition beer. Sierra is planning on doing exactly that. I assume they will send a small amount of yeast and dosage into the can during the canning process. Conditioning then proceeds as normal -- let the cans sit in a conditioning room for awhile.

The pressure depends on the canning line. Our system purges the can by blowing enough CO2 into it so it is "spilling over the top" while the can is filling. Then the can is sealed while foam is just starting to escape out the the can. The oxygen pickup in this case is about 5 milliliters per 12 ounce can. That's about the same as our bottling line. The big difference is, once the lid is sealed, that's it. No more oxygen can enter the can. And the complete lack of light is a major improvement.

Caged 750ml bottles will most certainly hold more pressure than cans or regular bottles. Most beers have a 2.7 volumes of CO2 at the time of canning/bottling. Any more than that would interfere with the canning/bottling process.
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#17 Broken English

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 12:34 AM

I always used to think canned beer had a really odd taste to it. Looking back now though, it was probably just that in Australia it's mostly horrible beer that's sold in cans.
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#18 Mjx

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 02:33 AM

I can taste the can. I don't love beer, but am able to enjoy some kinds, with certain foods/under specific circumstances... unless it has that metallic tang, which is a deal breaker, as far as I'm concerned. I'd only drink canned beer if there was absolutely no other way to avoid offending someone (and that hasn't happened, yet).

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#19 jesskidden

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 04:35 AM

The only difference between the draught line and the bottling line is the volume of CO2 in the beer. Otherwise, Extra Stout is Extra Stout -- made from the same recipe of pale malt, flaked barley and roasted barley. (Guinness is one of the simplest beer recipes out there. Just goes to prove that "simple" doesn't mean "ordinary.")


Guinness brews and markets many different "stouts" (17-19 by some count, some of which are brewed by other companies under license or by contract)- different recipes, different alcohol content.

In the US, they market Guinness Draught, Guinness Extra Stout, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and, a few years ago, Guinness 250th Anniversary Stout. Saying "bottled" Guinness does not specify which one- since all four of the above are bottled. In the US, only Guinness Draught is available canned- and an important different between those cans and most US and other canned beers is that it's got a nitrogen-widget to mimic the nitrogen-served kegged Guinness Draught. (Bottles of Guinness Draught recently dropped their "widget" but are still nitrogen "carbonated".)

From what I've seen, the US Guinness labels do not note the ABV of any of the stouts, so comparing the different recipes based on alcohol content is not possible, but, of course, the different stouts have different names- Draught, Extra Stout, Foreign Extra Stout. Most other sources put the ABV of them at 4.2%, 5-5.5% and 7.5% respectively. (The same named stouts in other markets are often different ABV's). In the US, the Draught and FES is brewed in Ireland, the ES is brewed by contract in Canada, by both Moosehead and Labatt in recent years.

#20 jesskidden

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 04:47 AM

Sierra is going to have Pale in both cans and bottles for awhile, but their goal is to be mostly cans in the future.

http://beernews.org/...ater-this-year/


From all the statements I've seen from Sierra Nevada, "mostly cans" is not their goal. Bill Manley (S-N spokesperson) in that BeerNews article specifically says, "Cans will only be a small part of our output...No chance of bottled Pale Ale going anywhere. Cans are in addition to, not in place of." and repeats that, under his screen name sierranevadabill on Beer Advocate. In a later thread he confirms that the first cans will be 12 oz. SN Pale Ale and 16 oz. Torpedo IPA.

#21 DanM

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 09:45 AM

I bought a case of Butternuts last week to make beer can chicken. Good beer Btw. I guess the biggest things going against cans are mass market swill, quality of cans, and the need for empties when making your own.
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#22 Kent Wang

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 05:52 AM

I'm all in favor of technology, so bring on the cans and tetrapaks.

Caged 750ml bottles will most certainly hold more pressure than cans or regular bottles. Most beers have a 2.7 volumes of CO2 at the time of canning/bottling. Any more than that would interfere with the canning/bottling process.

I drink primarily crown corked Belgian ales. Just to be clear, are you saying that those beers would not be the same in cans? Then again, many of those breweries make the same beers in smaller bottles with a conventional bottle cap.

#23 ScoopKW

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 06:54 PM

Caged 750ml bottles will most certainly hold more pressure than cans or regular bottles. Most beers have a 2.7 volumes of CO2 at the time of canning/bottling. Any more than that would interfere with the canning/bottling process.

I drink primarily crown corked Belgian ales. Just to be clear, are you saying that those beers would not be the same in cans? Then again, many of those breweries make the same beers in smaller bottles with a conventional bottle cap.


I wasn't very clear. The 750ml champagne style bottles will hold more pressure. Whether the brewer chooses to take advantage of that increase in CO2 capacity really depends on what he or she is going for.

You can take an average Dubble and put it in a can, bottle or wine bottle. It will taste closest to how it was in the bright tanks from the can -- but that is not necessarily a good thing in a beer meant to be aged. There simply isn't enough data about aging beer in cans for me to have an opinion one way or another.

A pilsner, on the other hand, really needs to be in a keg or a can.
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#24 KeystoneNate

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 08:36 AM

I don't have any issue with good craft beer in a can. Both cans and bottles are recycled in my neighborhood, so that isn't really a deciding factor for me. I'm a homebrewer, but I've amassed enough bottles that I don't need to worry about that anymore, plus I'm moving on to kegging in the near future anyway. I think one of the issues with beer from a bottle or a can is that you really do need to pour it into a glass, as mentioned above. Both bottles and cans prevent most aroma from reaching your nose when you drink, and I have noticed odd metallic or stale flavors on the rare occasions I do drink without a glass.

Three breweries (off the top of my head) produce exceptional beer and can some, if not most, of their offerings:

Sly Fox, based in Pennsylvania, has six beers distributed in cans, three of which I think are really standout selections - the Pikeland Pils, the Route 113 IPA, and the Royal Weisse Ale.

21st Amendment out of San Diego offers five beers in cans. I've tried all of them, and I think their black IPA (Back in Black), Belgian dark (Monk's Blood), and their watermelon wheat (Hell or High Watermelon) are worth giving a shot. I'm not normally a big fan of fruit beer, but their watermelon wheat is nicely flavored without being too sweet or overpowering.

Oskar Blues from Colorado cans all of the beers they distribute, and I think their imperial red (G'Knight, formerly known as Gordon), imperial stout (Ten Fidy), and the imperial IPA (Gubna) are all fantastic.

I also agree with a comment made earlier regarding Young's Double Chocolate from a can or a bottle. That is one of my wife's favorite beers, and we first had it from a can (poured into a glass). We found it in a bottle at another location, and the strong dark chocolate flavor was almost gone - nothing compared to the can.

#25 Hassouni

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 07:02 PM

For drinking sans glass, I like a bottle a LOT more, but when pouring into a glass I don't really care that much, and I might concede that it actually does taste better. Certainly green glass is worthless. I do tend to always prefer a glass though, so if there was more beer available in cans I'd probably buy

#26 threestars

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 11:45 PM

Well IMO, I honestly don't mind whether the beer is in can or in bottles. As long as they taste good and cold, I'll take it. :)

#27 CharlieHorse

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 12:32 PM

First of all, As Martyn Cornwell points out, beer should never be drunk from the container in which it arrives. You should drink your beer from a glass. Of course, there are exceptions. If you're on the beach at a bar-b-que or if your drinking that pale, yellow stuff that has a low alcohol content that bar have for happy hour specials (I still can't call it beer). That said, I sometimes bottle my home brewed beer and when I do, I store it in a dark closet until I'm ready to cool it to drink. Light will destroy the flavor and aromas of the beer that the brewer has worked so hard to bring to you. For this reason, canned beer, when decanted, is better than bottled beer.

#28 lindag

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 07:17 AM

You can probably discount my opinion immediately because my beer of choice is currently Miller 64...simply because of the low calorie count. I can drink my beer and not feel guilty. It comes in bottles only now. Last summer it was available for a while (here, anyway) in cans as well.
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Edited by lindag, 02 February 2013 - 07:17 AM.


#29 CharlieHorse

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 06:32 AM

lindan, actually beer should be served warmer than "ice cold". In fact, a high quality craft brew is best at "cellar temperature" which is around 55 degrees F. The reason for this is that the cold numbs your taste buds and they don't sense anything. The warmer temps allow you to experience all of the subtle flavors that the brewer crafted into his beer. That's also why Bud, Miller and Coors (know as BMC, none of which should be labled as beer) have to be so cold to drink them. If you let them warm, they still wouldn't have any taste and people would quit buying them.

#30 lancastermike

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:03 AM

I have had outstanding quality craft brewed beers served in cans. There are many reasons that canning beer makes sense for the brewer.

Some of the posts here objecting to canned beer are, in my opinion, simply elitist and having nothing at all to do with the quality of the beer.

Only drunks and low lifes drink beer from cans? Puh-leeze.

Edited by lancastermike, 04 February 2013 - 09:05 AM.