Andy Hughes from WeCan Solutions makes the case that there are several good reasons why craft beer can be presented in aluminium cans.
Are Cans ‘better for the environment’ as compared with bottling?
Simply put yes. The answer is slightly more complex and an essay could be written on it.
Firstly cans are lighter in weight by up to 90% compared to bottling. They are packaged in much higher concentrations than bottles. This affects the efficiency (and therefore the Carbon Footprint) every time that can / bottle is moved. The additional cost of moving bottles is multiplied – from manufacturer, to depots, to fillers, to market, to recycle and even the movement post sale. Cans are massively more fuel efficient to move than bottles.
Andy Hughes, Director of WeCan Solutions Ltd the 1st Mobile canning service in the UK, tells us, “Our service supports this and by moving the equipment to the brewery we save on the transport (and associated administration, labour and inefficiency costs) we save you money“.
Then there’s the debate about recycling. Only 28% of glass bottles are recycled compared to 55% for cans. Additionally, beer bottles contain only 20-30% recycled glass in comparison to the average beer can that is made of 40% recycled aluminum. Recycled aluminum requires 95% less energy and produces 95% less greenhouse gas emissions than manufacturing new aluminum.
The debate as to the raw material is even more complex. The bottom line on raw material is that the effect on the environment between bottles / cans is marginal.
All in cans are better for the environment.
Does canning real ale effect its taste?
This is a debate that will run and run. Simply put, there will always be people who prefer drinking real ale out of a bottle / glass. We saw the same when we moved form corked wine bottles to screw tops. That’s absolutely fine, of course it is. However, there are many reasons / occasions when this is not possible / not wanted.
The traditional debate has centered on factors including taste, odour and colour. Beer is a sensitive beverage and exposure to both light and oxygen results in off-flavors. It’s a fact that the caps on bottles are rarely not completely airtight, creating a chemical reaction between oxygen and the hops. Bottles invariably let more light into the beer as compared with cans. Cans are impervious to light so the issue is immediately resolved. At WeCan we achieve DO levels of 10-20 ppb, protecting the flavour, reducing chances of creating an unpleasant aroma, and extending the shelf life (in excess of 120 days however dependent on beer type, pasteurisation etc).
Some of the proponents of bottles have remained steadfast in the claim that cans produce a metallic taste, however there has been little empirical evidence to support the claim.
Andy comments, “I do find it slightly amusing that no one seems to mind the fact that kegged ale often sits in an aluminum keg!”
“We have worked with the manufactures of our cans to ensure that they are lined with water epoxy, which ensures there is no beer – metal contact”.
WeCan Solutions have even conducted a taste test where 3 / 4 blindfolded people stated that the beer that came out of our cans had a preferable taste to that out of a bottle. Why not try their taste test by contacting WeCan Solutions