So it seems fitting that Brewdog would announce on their blog the following day that Punk IPA (the new 5.6% version) would be available in cans from the 10th of February.
Let's get this out of the way nice and early. I'm all for Brewdog being available in cans, I'm all for any craft beer being made available in cans provided the flavour isn't effected. It's environmentally friendly, economically sensible, and well lets face it, they fit in the fridge better (just a light 45-60 minute chill in there mind you).
We all know that the Americans love craft in a can, infact for a lot of companies over there it is seen as the standard way to contain beer - with glass bottles becoming less used every year. Mark Dredge has openly promoted it, and Melissa of 'Taking the Beard out of Beer' is also a big fan. So what's the problem?
Unfortunetly I think this side of the pond is going to take some convincing. Generally speaking it's just the macro lagers and smooth bitters that get a canning in the UK. I'd go so far as to say the fact that decent beer generally comes in a 500ml bottle over here (Brewdog again always have to be different don't they) is important to many craft beer drinkers, it keeps things simple - tat in cans, quality in bottles, easy!
I think this is why so many people are worried about cans. They are worried the beer will change for the worse. The Beer will move to meet the can, rather than the vessle being designed to accomodate the beer.
Brewdog have, as usual, done it differently. They've used the same light filtration as they did for their bottles, and have kept the beer unpasteurised. This is hugely important, and is made 100% clear by them on their blog:
"We will be sending the beer down all ready to package, to the same very lightly filtered specification we use on our bottled and kegged beers. We will also be bypassing the pasturization part of the process meaning the beer in the can will be not pasteurized and only very lightly filtered leaving all the amazing hoppy flavour to explode out of the can at you when your crack it open!"
So is Brewdog Punk IPA the first craft beer in a can available in the UK? Zak Avery wrote a blog post ages ago (yes Zak i've been reading your musings for some time now) saying that Badger were going to put their 'craft beer' in cans. This has now happened, I've seen the cans of tanglefoot myself in Morrisons. But is it craft? Or is it just beer in a can? Is there a difference? Badger make some nice beers, and tanglefoot in a can is a decent drop. But for me it's a different beast to Punk in cans. I can't quite bring myself to call Hobgoblin, Pedigree, London Pride or Tanglefoot, which are all available canned, Craft canned beer. Even though they are all perfectly decent beers, it just doesn't feel right.
For me it comes down to the filtration and pasteurisation in the first instance, but also the quality of the beers ingredients and production methods. The high amounts of hops, high quality ingredients, minimal filtration and lack of pasteurisation all come together to make beer that is fresh tasting and full of vibrant, multi-layered flavour. Ironically, the same reasons that mean when done well cask is hard to beat.
So the question is, if they've got it to this stage at such high quality why would they risk putting it in a container which would harm the flavour? The answer is that they wouldn't. There's nothing wrong with craft in a can provided the beer hasn't been changed to suit the container, and the can itself is properly lined (which they all are anyway nowadays). Brewdog have built a following thanks to some *cough* imaginitive marketing, and most importantly some amazing tasting beers that are completely different to those brewded by other UK brewers. So provided the beer remains awesome, who cares if it's canned?
Long live craft in cans!
Anyway, that's my two-pence worth. Please feel free to comment, and tell me how wrong I am.