Looking at the near 300 craft beers we have on our shelves here at Yorkshire Craft Beers, it’s fair to say that drinkers have never been as spoiled for choice as they are at present. Whilst there may be an array of styles, strengths and tastes available there are only, generally, two methods of them being packaged; in a bottle or, more recently, in a can. The former might have been around for longer, but what does the science say when it comes to bottled and canned beers?
Experimentation with bottling beer can be traced back to the 1800s, with stoneware being favoured over hand-blown glass as it was stronger despite being heavier. Bottling may be the oldest method, however, it did not become commercially prevalent until after the Second World War when the home-drinking movement started gaining traction.
Bottles were favoured over cans and metal containers as they did not spoil the taste of the beer, but science now tells us that cans are the better way of storing beer. Glass bottles are dark coloured to try to prevent light 'skunking' beer, or making it taste off, however this cannot be prevented. Likewise air can escape out of the cap, or lid, of a bottled beer causing it to fade over time. When it comes to shipping, they are also larger and heavier, costing more to ship and store.
Cans are now being favoured by many breweries across the world as they’re not only cheaper to buy, store and ship, they’re also better at preserving beer's flavour and quality. They are sealed better than bottles during the packaging process, helping them preserve longer, likewise no light can affect the taste of the beer due to its solid walls. Historically, cans have been liable to lending a metallic taste to beer but now they are treated with an interior coating that provides a neutral lining that won’t spoil the beer.
Whilst canned beer may have had a stigma attached to it for many years, it is now becoming more clear that, scientifically, it is the best way to store your beer. Generally speaking, it’s the modern styles that find themselves in cans, however those that bottle are starting to show an interest in canning their beers instead. But, regardless of beer being in a bottle or can, you can be sure to find a tasty beer on our shelves!