The Great Canned vs Bottled Beer Debate 2.0: Craft Brewing Weighs In

This post is part of a blogging series by economics students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. You can follow along here.

Written by Millie Milliken for triplepundit.com

In the early part of the 20th Century, beer drinkers had only two choices when it came to quenching their thirst for a delicious frothy beverage: draught beer or bottles. It wasn’t until the 1930s that canned beer arrived on the scene. Initially, tin cans could not withstand the carbonated pressure and burst. Eventually, technological developments and the introduction of a vinyl liner proved successful in containing the pressure. Then in 1935, Kruger’s Brewery of New Jersey introduced the first canned beer–Kruger’s Finest Beer–to the market, revolutionizing the beer industry. The canned versus bottled beer debate has raged ever since, and now the emerging mircrobrew trend is putting a new spin on the topic.

The traditional debate has centered on factors including taste, convenience, and cost. Beer is a sensitive beverage and exposure to both light and oxygen results in off-flavors. The caps on bottles are not completely airtight, creating a chemical reaction between oxygen and the hops, whereas cans are impervious to both light and oxygen, protecting the flavor, reducing chances of creating a “skunky” amora, and extending the shelf life. Although proponents of bottles have remained steadfast in the claim that cans produce a metallic taste, there has been little empirical evidence to support the claim. Additionally, the lightweight and portability of cans often prove to be more convenient than bottles for both consumers and producers. In regards to shipping efficiency, the longneck design on bottles wastes packaging space, while cans are able to be efficiently packaged and weigh less, which allows more to be shipped at less cost.
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