It’s National Lager Day. Have A Cold(er) One!

According to various sources on the interwebs, December 10th is National Lager Day. When I first found out about this marvelous new thing last week, I assumed the day would a national holiday celebrated with bank closures, a day off for workers everywhere (or at least for the federal government), and a series of lederhosen-and-masquerade balls held in very cold rooms as an homage to the lower temperature storage that most lagers undergo before being ready for the world.

After a brief call to my Congressman’s office, though, I learned that National Lager Day isn’t quite that official. It’s apparently not even as important as Groundhog Day. Which, you know, makes me wonder why we even have holidays. But I digress.

Lederhosen Ball or not, we can—and should—certainly celebrate without a mandate from our government and/or employer. In fact, if my research is any indication, college students have been celebrating National Lager Day for years, often without even bothering to verify that that’s actually December 10th beforehand.

And who can blame them? It’s probably December 10th somewhere. N out of 10 quantum physicists agree.

Regardless of how you might choose to recognize it, today being National Lager Day has, at least, got me thinking about all that beer fermented by bottom-dwelling, colder-thriving yeast. And the more the wheels in my head turned, the more I wondered why I smelled burning plastic.  Ignoring that, I also realized that it seems lagers have maybe gotten the shorter end of the stick in the recent years of craft beer booming.

Now, sure, gallon after gallon of good quality lager is quaffed by thirsty humans every year. In fact, it’s no doubt a ponderous volume that I’m sure is remarkable without even considering the oceans of “American Light” consumed worldwide. For that matter, I’ve personally swallowed close to a good-sized lake’s worth of Sam Adams’ Boston Lager between the dawning of my craft beer drinking days more than 15 years ago and today.

But then, with all that lager, why does it seem that most of the big, high profile beers that pour forth from the minds of our nation’s creative brew masters are ales? Why does it seem that for every one truly creative Imperial Pilsner with hints of coriander, rhubarb, and sesame seed, there are ten brewers out there shoving hearts of palm and a anything else they can find on sale at Whole Foods that week into an ale with a healthy dose of hops and some kind of sugar I’ve never heard of.

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit.  I do tend to do that whenever I write words in English from time to time. And having done some home brewing myself, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I understand ales are less difficult to manage, making them easier to experiment with while mitigating the possible financial setback of brewing 60 barrels of something a donkey wouldn’t even drink.  Also, my knowledge of available brews isn’t exactly encyclopedic, either. It could be there are a lot more experimental Weiss beers out there that I wouldn’t recognized if I one was splashed in the face by an angry cousin at a family gathering.

So you tell me, am I missing them? What’s you favorite off-the-beaten path lager?

And much more importantly, how do you plan to celebrate National Lager Day?  Because, sure, we could leave the college kids to celebrate this on for us, but I’m thinking there are probably ways to do it that taste a whole lot better.

Pud’n

Malt Liquor Monday: Colt 45

A funny thing happened to me a few weeks ago.  I was on my way home after a long night of auditioning chimpanzees for the title role in my new street play, “Puddin and the Primate’s Revenge: Episode One of the Organ Grinder of Darkness Saga” and realized I needed a beer to cap off the night.  You know, something to savor while I decided between Mr. Jinkees and Manny the Monkey.  Unfortunately, it was late.  So late that all of my usual craft bottle shops had long since closed for the day.

Luckily, a few days before, I’d just happened to be listening to the Puddinette—which is something rare enough in itself—when she mentioned to me that she noticed they were now stocking craft beer at my local Quik Mart-o-Stop.

Well, if that wasn’t serendipity, I’m not sure what you’d call it.  Well, actually, I’m not really sure what “serendipity” means, anyway, but that’s neither here nor there.

So I pulled into the place and made way to the beer cooler at the rear of the store.  As I said, though, it was late, so I really didn’t feel like dropping the money on a six pack I knew would be overkill.  Instead, I slid over the singles stack, hoping to find a nice bomber.  Maybe a Stone IPA or something interesting from Rogue.

No luck there, I’m afraid, but I found something else quite intriguing.  Apparently, the newest thing in craft brewing is something called “Malt Liquor”, which comes in both 22 oz and even 40 oz bottles.  You know, for those nights.  Admittedly, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was in for, but with interesting names like “Olde English 800”, “St. Ides”, and “Colt 45”, I was totally expecting a style steeped in tradition but with an aggressive, innovative approach.

I took home a 40 of Colt 45 that night, hoping that I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Three days later, when I finally woke up, I was partially blind in one eye, my mouth tasted like a combination of ashtrays and Scope, and couldn’t remember anything of my first malt liquor experience.  To my credit, I found I’d taken copious notes about the experience.  Admittedly, the notes looked to have been written by a child, but you know, who writes anymore, anyway?

With further adieu, then, here’s the first post in what I expect to be a new weekly Hoperatives feature, Malt Liquor Monday.

Colt 45

Appearance: Pours a pale, winter sunrise yellow.  A finger or two of soft, fizzy, perfectly white head disappears faster than deviled eggs at a family reunion.

Smell: Extremely light odors of straw, grass clippings, Cheerios, creamed corned, and rubbing alcohol.  Reminiscent of being at Uncle Earl’s farm in August, when he starts up the still.

Taste:  Grain.  Then more grain.  Then something bitter, but not good bitter.  Like sucking on a dirty penny.  Plus a slight hint of something astringent, like Stridex pads. Oh, yeah, and a big smoking hot wallop of alcohol…BAM!

Mouthfeel:  Smooth, yet burns with the fire of shame and a thousand stars going supernova, but not in a completely unpleasant way.

Overall:  I guess I drank the whole thing?  I’m not sure.  According to my hastily scratched scribbles, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Although I do have to wonder why the land lord has been giving me the evil eye since that night. Oh, and the local police department has left me several messages in the past 18 hours, too.  Surely, that’s not related?  Anyway, I guess I’d drink Colt 45 again.

Availability: I haven’t seen it at my local craft bottle shop, yet, but I guess maybe the Quick Mart-o-Stop got a scoop with the local distributor. Anyway, if you can’t find any at your favorite place, give your Quick Mart-O-Stop a try.

So that’s my first toe-dip into the waters of craft brewing’s newest fad, malt liquor.  Next up on Malt Liquor Monday: Olde English 800.  Possibly your traditional bitter with a twist?

I, for one, can’t wait to find out!

Pud’n

How the Grinch Stole Beermas

Every Brew
Geek in Brew-ville
Liked Beermas a lot…

But the Grinch
Who lived just North of Brew-ville,
Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Beermas, The Whole Beermas drinking!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite got his thinking.
It could be that beer sunk his head like a boat.
It could be, perhaps, he had the tastes of a goat.
But I think the most likely reason of all
Was that fun and enjoyment got stuck in his craw.

But,
Whatever the reason,
His craw or the booze,
He stood there on Beermas Eve, hating the Brews,
Staring down from his tower with a dry, mirthless frown
At the cheery, fun ruckus at the pubs in their town
For he knew every Brew Geek in Brew-ville below,
Was sipping beer samples, their cheeks all aglow.

“And they’re clinking their glassware!” he growled at his tea,
“Tomorrow is Beermas! I can’t let this be!”
Then he slunk in his seat, almost ready to cry,
“I must find a way to keep Beermas-time dry!”
For tomorrow, he knew…

…All the Brew Geeks about
Would run to their pubs and, with joy, order stout!
And then there’d be porters, spiced warmers, and pale ales!
That’s the thing he hated most! The pale, pale, hoppy ales!

Then the Brew Geeks, each one, would settle in with their beer,
There’d be cheer!  Then more cheer!
Too much CHEER! CHEER! CHEER! CHEER!
Then they’d crack open Belgians and rare, dark Imperials
Which you’d think, from the fuss, were some magic materials!

And THEN
They’d do something he liked less than pils!
Every Brew Geek in Brew-ville, ignoring the chills
Would stand close together, a jolly, thrilled host.
They’d stand glass to glass, and they’d offer The Toast.

They’d toast to their families, their dogs, cats, and friends!
And they’d TOAST! TOAST! TOAST! It never would end!
The more the Grinch cringed at the Great Beermas Toast,
The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop that the MOST!”
“Year after year, I’ve cringed at their glee!
I MUST stop that Beermas-time toasting!
…For ME!”

Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
The Grinch
GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

“I’ve got just the plan!” The Grinch laughed, feeling smug
Then he made a Gambrinus crown and great mug.
“With this crown and fake stein, I look just like that drunk.
When I’m done, this year’s Beermas will be clearly sunk!”

“All I need is a wagon…
and a charger to pull it.”
But he knew he had neither, so how would he sell it?
Still, the old Grinch was clever…
quite evilly so,
So he rubbed his chin whiskers, and then he gasped, “Oh!”
His milking goat, Mutton, would do for the horse,
so he gave him the bit, and some blinders, of course.

THEN
He stacked some old barrels,
for rice and for grain,
on a creaky old pull cart,
left to rot in the rain.

He hitched Mutton to it,
then climbed right on top,
and they headed downhill
to where the Brews Geeks would flop

Their windows were quiet, no cheers filled the night.
All the Brews dreamt on soundly of ales with hop bite.
“Oh, I’ll give those loud Brews such a terrible fright!”
the Grinch said as he stopped at a house with a grin
Then he entered the place with a flat, empty drink skin.

He tiptoed ‘round the house, working hard to keep quiet.
If Gambrinus could do so, there must be nothing to it..
There was only one time that he eeped out a cry,
when he stubbed his right foot.  How that hurt, my, oh my.
Then he found their great steins, on their mantle, for filling,
and he scooped them all up. This was all just so thrilling!

The Grinch, grinning darkly, he slunk through the home,
Taking any mug, cup, glass or brew that could foam.
Pale ales and bitters, saisons full of bubbles!
Porters! Stouts! Spicy warmers! IPAs and dubbels!
All the brews went right in to his empty drink bladder,
with their beers and steins missing, he couldn’t imagine them sadder!

That wasn’t enough, though. No, he’d only begun.
He too stole their beer makings, to be sure there’d be none!
The Grinch took all their malt, and their hops and the yeast,
When he was done they’d be beerless for years, at the least!

He stacked up the loot on the pull-cart quite tight,
and with a turn back he said, “We can’t leave those kegs, right?”

So he turned a keg over and started to roll,
when he heard a soft grunt, like a sleepy cave troll.
With half-lidded eyes and an unshaven face,
he found himself looking at the Brew of the place.

The Grinch was now trapped by the Brew Geek awake,
and he wondered if, perhaps, this was all a mistake!
In his ‘hop-Lover’ shorts, the Brew coughed and said, “Dude,
Gambrinus, yo, Saint, this looks kinda rude.”

The Grinch, ever clever, nary wasted a blink,
but told a smooth lie, just as quick as a wink.
“This keg you’ve got here, it’s losing its pressure,
so it’s off to my shop for some testing and measures.
I’ll have it right back, a quick little trip.
In the meantime, perhaps you’d like a small sip?”
The Brew smiled wide and said, “Thanks so much, Dude.
I’d hate to lose something I carefully brewed.”
He took a quick pull from the keg he was rolling,
and was back off to bed without any cajoling.

The Grinch took their goblets, their cups and their bowls,
and left them with nothing, but barely their souls.
A thin drop of beer did he leave on the floor,
so tiny that even the bugs wanted more.

THEN
He did that same thing
As all the Brews slept

Leaving just
drops of brews
No one’s bugs would accept.

When the sun finally rose…
All the Brew Geeks still sleeping,
All the Brews still dreaming,
When he finished his creeping.
His pull cart was loaded with every Beermas time gift.
The beers! And the glasses! Oh, the Brews would be miffed!

With Mutton he headed to the top of Mt. Volstead,
where over the side all his loot would be shed.
“Ha ha! I’ve done it!” The Grinch grinned wide and mean,
“And they’re waking up now to a sad Beermas scene!
They’ll all stand there shocked, they won’t know what to do,
they’ll probably be slacked-jawed for a hour or two
All day long, they’ll be silent, without any brew.”

“Such wonderful quiet, it’ll be all around me,
and finally, AT LAST, I’ll enjoy my warm tea!”
So with hand cupped to ear, he listened for the Nothing,
but much to his startled surprise, he heard Something.
His quiet was missing, replaced with that something.

Way down there in Brew-ville,
believe it or not,
came a growing glad sound,
at least, that’s what he thought.
He stared down the mountain,
his ears perked up for sound.
Then HIS mouth hung open,
at the noises he found.

Every Brew Geek in Brew-ville, the young and the old,
Was Toasting the others, without beer, in the cold!
He HADN’T stopped Beermas at all!
Here it was!
Despite his dark plotting, they were all still a-buzz!

And the Grinch, with the Brew Geek’s beer kegs, cups, and mugs,
Gave the first in what would be a series of shrugs.
He scratched at his head and thought, “how can this be?
How could Beermas still come when the stuff’s here with me?”
And he thought and he thought and thought yet some more.
Until he thought about something he hadn’t before.
“Maybe Beermas,” he said, “isn’t just about brew.
Maybe Beermas, perhaps, is about fellowship too!”

What happened next…
is still up for debate.
But they say that the Grinch
took a sip of his freight.
He smiled and then realized that pale ale was okay,
And climbed back on Mutton and started away.

He gave back the beers to an elated Brew host.
And he…

…HE HIMSELF…
The Grinch, raised his glass first for the Toast!

In search of a good session

Sometimes, not often, mind you, but sometimes, the wicked Fates see fit to smile down upon me and bestow a special day. Not a ridiculous kind of Special Day (lottery winning-day!) or the kind of special day of questionable value (all the numbers of the calendar line up-day!), but the kind of "special" that means you get an unexpected night off.

For instance, every now and again, you look up after cleaning the dinner dishes and drill-sargeanting your way through the evening twin gauntlets that are the kids’ bath and bed times, and suddenly you realize you have the rest of the evening to yourself. You’ve got no other pressing matters to attend, no bills demanding a check, no plumbing in desperate need of maintenance, and no angry emails from the boss requiring immediate response. Instead, you’ve got hours to yourself for a little relaxation. Situations like this call for cracking open an abundance of tasty brews, which is a welcome change from your usual just-before-bed-cap that you hope to manage to enjoy before nodding off on the couch.

But it’s a school night, and the last thing anyone wants to deal with is an angry 6 AM alarm clock while stricken with a head stuffed with angry bees, or to roll into work resembling the intern whose typical Thursday night leads into showing up Friday morning with bloodshot eyes and enough club stamps that his hand looks like abstract art.

This is one of the many times that calls for a session beer.

Sessions, however, seem to be getting harder to come by, it seems to me.  Today’s (much appreciated) creativity by brewers more often than not leads to a complex, interesting beer that’ll knock flat on your…well, you know…if you aren’t pretty careful about it.

Before we go hunting for the perfect sessionable brew, we should probably take a few minutes and argue about discuss exactly how to define a session.  For me, three things are key:

  • Alcohol Content – Clearly, for a beer you can reasonably session, light to moderate alcohol by volume is key.  Of course, if you’d told me 10, or even 5, years ago that I’d be looking for the low-ABV bottles on the shelf at the store, like, ever, I’d have told you to stop getting stoned.  But, then, that was before I got old wise after  waking up on the wrong side of the Commodore and his companions one too many times. For me, a beer that can truly be sessioned should come in below 5%.  I know that some of the whippersnappers out there might suggest 6% as a more reasonable baseline, but honestly, if I’m really making a time of it, 6% is going to sneak up and smack me before long.
  • Gravitas – Some beers are just heavier than others, period.  And that’s okay.  But after just a pint or two, those big weighty numbers can easily have you feeling like Mr. Creosote, the guy who eats pretty much everything in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.  He explodes, you know (spoiler alert).  I don’t want to feel like that guy in the morning any more than I want to feel like Benji the Intern.  A good session brew, then, needs to be – as much as I hate to say this – less filling.
  • Flavor – That said, you definitely want it to taste great too (Ahem.  No, this isn’t a commercial).  But at the same time, when knocking back several of something, odds are good you probably don’t want it’s flavor to be too challenging.  It’s all well and good to try something funky and interesting, and I recommend you do so regularly.  But it’s not too hard after repeated drinks for that something funky to turn into, well, funk.

So, where does that put us?  Like I said, session beers can be difficult to come by these days, and the fact that it’s the middle of December, when spicy winter warmers are dominating every beer case and stack you’re likely to see for the next, um, month or so doesn’t help.  For me, I’m happy to quaff a few bottles of Stone Levitation Ale in such circumstances, which easily hits the mark at 4.4% ABV, has plenty of solid flavor and, yet, won’t sink your ship, if you know what I mean.  Sam Adams Boston Ale is also a session favorite of mine (make sure it’s fresh, though…that’s key).  It usually averages right around the 5% mark, is just about the right weight, and hits all the right flavor spots when I’m looking for a simple, tasty ale.

Obviously, there are plenty of other sessionable treats out there.  What’s your go to when you’d like to have a few, maybe, but don’t want to pay too high a price for it?

Pud’n

A happy, hoppy Thanksgiving from Hoperatives

It was just three little words.  Words aren’t scary, right?  It’s not like riding Space Mountain or living through the zombie apocalypse or facing off against an enraged grizzly while holding a full-sized ham.  Those things can really put the fear into you.  But words are, you know, words.

That is, unless you hear the three little words no beer drinker ever wants to hear strung together by someone wearing a white coat:

Elevated. Liver. Enzymes.

Hearing that can be pretty terrifying.

Trust me, I know.  The nurse at my Doctor’s office said them to me in late October.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably always assumed that you didn’t really need to worry about your liver unless you make, seriously poor life decisions regularly and wantonly.  And since I’ve never been the guy making a habit of tying on one on your average Tuesday evening after Alex Trebek wrapped up Jeopardy! the night, I kind of figured I’d be fine.  Especially since I am, after all, something like 80% German in ancestry.

I’m pretty sure my grandparents were born double-fisting full-sized steins.

Unfortunately, though, none of that saved me from hearing those dreaded three little words.

The good news was that when they said "elevated", they meant just a wee tiny bit.  As in, more likely to be a testing anomaly than "your liver currently resembles an adobe brick excavated from a 6th-century pueblo dwelling."

But I like my doctor because he likes to get to the bottom of things, even if they’re only probably testing anomalies.  So I gave up the malty brews and the hoppy treats (gasp!) for a couple of weeks as I submitted myself to life as a pincushion for medical science.  In other words, there were tests.  And more tests.  And then even more after that, just to rule out the crazy options. 

As it turns out, I’m not pregnant, which came as some relief.

In the end, though, the diagnosis wasn’t a testing anomaly, as I’d hoped.  It turns out I’ve got a touch of the fatty liver.

Medically, the condition is known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which, let’s face it, is a much more pleasant sounding problem than "fatty liver".  You tell someone you’ve never met that you’ve got the fatty liver, they’re instantly going to conjure a mental image of you terrorizing an all-you-can-buffet like that gigantic Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and stumbling around continually three sheets – or more – to the wind (i.e., Captain Jack Sparrow on shore leave). 

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis sounds unfortunate, but perfectly respectable.  "Fatty liver", on the other hand, basically screams, "fat, drunk bastard."

Long story, well, still pretty long, the good news is that I won’t be forced to take up temperance any time in the immediate future.  Which is good, because I’d make just as good a tea totaler as Batman would make a Kindergarten teacher.  I am, indeed, still allowed to drink, enjoy, and, most importantly, write about craft beer.  Moderation, of course, is the name of the game, as it’s always been.  More importantly, I need to avoid any meals that might hinge on the word ‘buffet’ or include enough saturated fat to feed a small tribal village for a week.

In other words, Skyline just became a rare treat.  But given the choice between a semi-regular Arrogant Bastard and a semi-regular three-way, I’ll take the Bastard for $200, please, Alex.

So why am I violating most of the known HIPAA regulations and boring you with tales of my liver on a national holiday?  Because when I sat down to contemplate this year’s Thanksgiving Day post, I didn’t want to do the usual thing about my Thanksgiving Day beer offerings and/or how it makes me happy to see my family enjoy craft beer.

Not because there’s anything wrong with that, of course.  But I wrote that post, um, two years ago.  I’m not that big a hack.  Yet.

Instead, I thought I’d take a moment today to actually be thankful for something.  And we have plenty to be thankful for when it comes to craft beer…especially here in Cincinnati.  For one, I’m thankful that the renaissance of craft brewing around here seems to be reaching a critical mass.  The all-local taps at Arthur’s Cafe is a testament to that.  It’s been a great year for beer, and there’re plenty more to look forward to on tap.

More importantly, though, I’m thankful that after hearing those three little words and spending a brief time as dry like your Uncle Milford’s scalp, I’ve given the green light to add some craft beer back into my life.

And if that’s not something to raise a glass of your favorite brew to, I don’t know what is.

From all of us at Hoperatives, then, to all of our fellow believers in better beer out there, here’s to a full glass, a full plate, a full stomach, and a happy Thanksgiving all around!

Pud’n

The irrational seasonality of craft brews is upon us. Deal with it.

It’s that time of year again.  The sun blazes overhead, beating us into lethargic submission daily, and the bugs have claimed dominance over, well, pretty much anywhere you might consider going outdoors.  The sidewalks aren’t fit for frying eggs because the foodies turn their noses up at them if not brought to over-easy using a soft, gentle flame, and opening your car door after a long day at the office is like getting smacked in the face with a brazier of hot coals.

In other words, it’s August, the very doggiest of the dogs days of summer.

Obviously, then, it’s time to crack open a few malty, spiced pumpkin brews, right?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Wait, what?

If you read much about beer, keep your fingers on the pulse of current trends, or, heck, even follow a craft beer drinker or two on the twitters, odds are good you’ve seen or heard someone complain over the past week or so about the premature release of the fall beers.  Yes, the pumpkins are beginning to make their way into even your favorite bottle shop, and the Oktoberfests won’t be far behind.

Which only makes sense, really, since the Oktoberfest beers are brewed for a festival named for October that’s usually held in September.

“But, but, but,” you say, “it’s SUMMER!”

Yadda, yadda, yadda, I say.  Look, we all know that for the foreseeable future, the smart money’s on temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s.  Admittedly, that does make one want to stick with the lighter summer brews quickly pulling a Master Mysterio and disappearing from your market.  But the truth of the matter is, this business isn’t news any more.  Every year we moan and complain that the fall brews come out in summer, the winters just when fall is hitting it’s stride, the spring brews when it’s still cold enough out to freeze the marbles off Hephaestus, and then the summer ones just as the first blossoming shoots of green appear.

Enough, I say.  Enough.  This the Cycle in which we live.  It’s been this way for years now, and will continue for years to come.  So it’s time we stopped whining about it and just accepted that this is Simply The Way It Works.  Fighting it will be as effective as shaking your fist at the sky when it rains, as illuminating as asking why the bird flies, or why “I” comes before “e” except after “c”.

But, why, you ask?  Why must we be subjected to beers that aren’t really right for the current seasons at least a 1/3 of the year (if not more)?

I wish I knew.  But as teenage boys will never truly understand teenage girls, women will never truly understand men, and no one will ever truly understand how things are supposed to work at the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Cycle of Craft Brew Life will always be a mystery.

I mean, unless you’re a professional brewer,  I guess.  Maybe then you know why it’s done this way. But even then, I suspect that like any good wizard, you couldn’t explain it to us without, well, you know.

The point is, yes, we all agree it’s much too early to start quaffing pumpkin beers like they’re going out of style.

Then again, most of us live with central air and drink imperial stouts year-round.

So I’m done griping about irrational seasonality of some of my favorite beers.  Time to drink the Kool-Aid…er, the fall beers.

What I’m saying is, pass me a pumpkin. I like to blend them with big chocolately stouts.

Pud’n

The Great Bottle/Can Debate

Unless you’ve been largely buying your beer off the folding table of a guy named Skids at the corner of Down St. and Out Blvd., chances are pretty good that you’ve noticed the recent proliferation of canned craft product on the shelves of your favorite bottle shops.

Seriously, even I’ve noticed, and as my wife is fond of pointing out, I’m probably the least observant person ever.  My office building could be on fire and I might, maybe, wonder idly why they turned up the damned thermostat again.

Yep, the beer industry is quickly on it’s way to using more aluminum than you’d find on the heads of convention-goers at ConspiracyCon 2012.  The prevailing wisdom is that the adoption of your dad’s beer can is good for many key aspects of modern beer consumerism, namely, production and shipping costs, beer quality, and environmental impact, just to name a few.

Of course, there are still plenty of glass lovers out there too.  Bottle boosters claim that cans give beer a "metallic taste", and not every brewer is jumping up to join the canning cabal.  Dogfish Head, for one, apparently thinks that canning runs counter to their mission to "elevate beer".

That’s all well and good, but let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: which container is really the best?

That’s easy, I say.  It’s obviously canning.  And here’s why:

  1. Bottles are heavy and loud – Look, as sad as it is to admit, sometimes it just isn’t easy carrying a pack of bottles around.  For instance, I often take a six or 12-pack of brew with me to my recreational hockey games for a little post-game camaraderie with my teammates.  And when you’ve already got a bag slung over your shoulder filled with enough protective equipment to keep you safe in case Delta flight 6009 lands on the ice rink (due to budget cuts, of course) and a couple of hockey sticks in hand, the last thing you want to have to deal with is 20 extra pounds of beer bottles.  Oh, and that clinking together business isn’t all that helpful either.  When you play on a team like mine, spilling the beans on the post-game beer before the game can lead to a voluntary forfeit in the blink of an eye when everyone decides they’d prefer to enjoy the brews rather than wrestle themselves into protective pants designed for a guy with 100% less beer belly.
  2. Cans can be crushed – I don’t know about you, but the recycling bin the company gave us is about a quarter of the size of my trash cans, even though I generate a whole lot more recyclables than garbage (but, um, just don’t ask if that’s still true were we to ignore all the beers vessels involved).  So, it’s awesome that I can save precious space by squeezing my empty beer cans barehanded, or stomping them like a real-world version of Itssssaaa meeeee, Maahhrio pounding one of those Mushroom guys*.  And less wasted space in my bin means I’m not so likely to leave a Hansel-and-Gretel-like trail by dropping things from the overstuffed container between my garage and the street come Thursday morning.  See? Definitely a plus.
  3. Cans don’t hurt – Deny it all you want, but the aluminum can is a less dangerous container than it’s glass counterpart.  For one thing, if you end up on the wrong end of, um, accidental intoxication, dropping a newly-opened can of beer doesn’t include much likelihood of showering you and your kitchen with sharp, sinister, beer-soaked shrapneloids of glass.  And when was the last time you saw a movie were some trouble-seeking ne’er-do-well cracked his can of High Life against the bar to produce a quick and dirty slashing weapon?  I mean, sure, aluminum cans are hella sharp when you cut ’em open, but that’s not exactly likely to happen without intent and some real, concerted effort.

Are cans the end-all-be-all of beer consumption?  Is their resurgence in our daily lives an act to a herald a coming Utopia?

Um, no.  Probably not, at least.

Silliness aside, I don’t have much real preference for cans versus bottles.  Because at the end of the day, what I’m really looking for is the best quality brew I can pour down my gullet.  And if I can only get that from a old-school rawhide skin in the middle of the desert, well, then that’s my preferred delivery vessel of the moment.

In other words, bottles or cans, it’s the beer that’s key to me.  But what do you think of the lowly can rising, phoenix-like, into prominence once again?  Do tell!

Pud’n


*For the record, even though this sentence seems to be referring to illicit drug use, I totally just mean Super Mario Bros.  I swear.