You’ve done all your research, read all the reviews, heard all of your friends snide comments about which beer you have painstakingly selected to drink for the —and yet there is still an important decision to be made: What are you going to drink it out of!?
To the uninitiated, it may not make a difference from which vessel you imbibe—to the purist, there can be only one true way to enjoy a fine malt beverage. Everyone has their opinion, but does what you drink out of really make a difference?
Aluminum Cans: The aluminum can is on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to ‘class’ associated with drinking beer (perhaps for no other reason than the prominence of beer swilling rural Americans featured in pop-culture). The aluminum can has been around since the early 1950’s, and finally offered an airtight container for pressurized beverages such as beer and soda’s. Aluminum cans are conveniently packaged to maximize space, and are extremely light weight – both full, and empty. While aluminum is easily recycled (and is even incentivised in some states by charging a small cash deposit upon purchase), the production of new cans is terribly inefficient. Although aluminum is the third most abundant element on our planet, the mining process consumes a large amount of resources and is extremely destructive – producing a can from recycled material can reduce the energy consumption by up to 95%. The chief complaint about aluminum cans is the metallic taste associated with drinking from them. Experts agree, there should be no taste transferred to the beer since they began lining the cans with a thin plastic membrane many years ago. Convenience is where cans are champs—they don’t require any tools to open, they’re easy to dispose of when they’re empty, and you can pack the trunk of your car like LEGO with cases of delicious beer.
Glass Bottles: Bottles are where beers have called home for a few hundred years. Beginning in earthenware clay pots, eventually evolving into today’s traditional long neck bottles, and ceramic growlers (a short handled jug). Beer comes packaged in green, clear, and even blue glass bottles – but brown glass preserves the integrity of the beer better than all of them. Brown glass helps protect the beer from harmful UV rays that will oxidize the beer. Because modern refrigeration techniques allow beer to maintain a consistent temperature—clear glass is becoming more and more popular as spoilage is less of an issue. Glass is heavy and durable—while being fragile at the same time. Silicon (the second most abundant element on earth) is very easy to come by, making glass an extremely efficient packaging solution. Recycling is very easy—and much like —is often incentivised by charging a deposit. While many bottles still require a special opener (like a churchkey) to access the delicious contents, many brands are opting for a twist off cap to make opening much easier. An empty bottle can easily be repurposed as a vase for flowers, or as a bludgeon in an unfortunate encounter with a violent aggressor. Because of their design, drinking from bottles can be a bit awkward as the liquid is often being asked to leave the bottle quicker than air can be welcomed in to replace it.
Glasses and Mugs: When you’re looking for customization, a fine pint glass, Stein, or Mug is where it’s at. Drawing a beer straight from the tap into a perfectly chilled glass can easily be the very essence of what beer dreams are made of. Glassware is the ultimate in recyclability as the container is washed, and reused time and time again. The cost of drinking straight from a glass is generally cheaper per ounce as there is no additional overhead for the container. A nice clean taste is what you should be expecting, with a perfect head. In today’s world, Pint glasses are often designed with your taste in mind, and offer an additional feature in the way of an etching at the bottom of the glass that creates the perfect nucleationpoint. This is where that seemingly never ending trail of bubbles appears to be materializing out of nowhere—fueling the picture perfect froth that rests atop your drink.
Just as the beer you drink is based on taste—so is the chalice you choose to sip it from. Be informed and drink with confidence.
- Benjamin Crutcher