Bottle vs. can

Beer in glass bottles is so common that the cans are still treated as an additional type of packaging. These proportions, however, may soon turn around. What is better for the beer? Today – bottle vs. can.


The glass bottle is with us almost always.
It is known that the ancient Egyptians were making bottles by blowing into a long pipe, at the end there was a drop of molten glass. The same method is used today in small plants.


Egyptian workmen blowing glass


It’s hard to imagine life without a glass bottle. It is a proven packaging, neutral for the content, in whole can be recycled or reused..
Bottled beer is present on store shelves, in commercials, and breweries still as the main retail packaging use bottle.
Can this change soon? Is the metal can is able to win with a glass bottle?


The idea for the use of cans for storing beverages born in 1933 in the head of a brewer from the US – Gottfried Krueger. Initially, in the form of a test he poured his beer to 2000 cans, produced by American Can Co.
This company previously packed in cans food rations for the army. However, it was necessary to refine the internal shell of the can, so that the package was neutral for drinks, not to changing taste and does not react with carbon dioxide.

As a result, the company has patented a canning line and on 24 th January 1935 went on sale beer Krueger’s Cream Ale and Krueger’s Fines Beer from Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company in Newark.
Tin can had a volume of 330ml and weighed 100 grams, which is five times more than today’s aluminum can.


Krueger Cream Ale - 1935


Beer in cans immediately gained immense popularity among consumers.
By the end of the year, 37 breweries follow the lead of the Gottfried Krueger Brewery and include in its offer canned beer.

The first cans had a flat lid, and to open them was needed special opener, church-key, to cut out on one side of the lid a triangular hole, and on the other side – small hole for venting.


Church key opener


The second type of cans have a conical lid with closure in the form of a cap, the same as in bottles. This type of packaging is not gained popularity because of the difficult storage and transport of such convex cans.

During World War II the production of canned drinks was stopped – steel was needed for military purposes.

A real quality leap came, when in 1958 were introduced aluminum cans. Then, in 1959, Ermal Cleon Fraze patented in the US design of can that is used till today, with pull-tab and incision on the lid for easy opening.
In addition to the beer, then began potted non-alcoholic drinks – the first was R.C. Cola (Royal Crown Cola) in 1964.


What are the advantages of using cans in comparison with bottles?

  • The first advantage is certainly weight.
    The aluminum can weighs approx. 20 grams, while a bottle approx. 400 grams.
    In addition, the bottle must be transported in crates, containers (extra weight), whereas cans – in cartons or foil.
    This is of great importance in transport – once can be carry more canned beers, that is important for brewery and warehouse or store. Package weight is often also important for the consumer who does not have to carry the glass packaging – the weight of cans for him is negligible.
  • The second advantage – more easily transport.
    Bottles must be transported in boxes that take up extra space. Cans, tightly packed in a cardboard box or just wrapped in foil, can be successfully to pack tightly, allowing to carry more beer in the same transport.
  • The cost of production and recycling
    The cost of production is similar (it must be remembered that a bottle is also the label and cap), while recycling of cans is simpler – the aluminum is entirely reprocessed.
    With bottles are some complications – in the case of returnable bottles there is the entire procedure associated with the intake them back, transportation to the brewery, cleaning, disinfection, etc. Consequently, even if the costs are similar, can is more friendly – less work, fast recycling.
  • The specificity of packaging
    Aluminum can doesn’t rust, not breaking up.
    With a bottle you have to be more careful (you know – glass), and besides, in the case of longer aging some beers (eg. barley wine) in a wet basement, the cap may rust, depressurised, which may affect the quality of aging beer, or simply cause its corruption.
  • Can is not transparent,
    therefore protects the contents from sunlight, or in general – light.
    Glass bottles, obviously admit light, which can affect flavour modification of beer. Especially bottle from green glass or transparent, can be the cause of the so-called. the smell of a skunk. Iso-alpha-acids contained in hops are subject to photolysis and the compound is formed, which is called 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol (Prenyl mercaptan) – popularly known as skunk. And worse, this effect may also occur as a result of the action of artificial light, eg. on a shelf in the supermarket.

    Cans are completely neutral – are impermeable the light, so there is no problem with the skunk in canned beer.

    To be precise need to add, however, that eg. in some beers in the UK, to avoid this disadvantage applies isomerised hop extract, which does not photolyzed.

  • Can keeps unchanged beer flavour
    And this is probably the most important feature that consumer is interested.

    Among the supporters of the bottles formed the view that the beer from a can has a metallic taste, and in general, the beer from the bottle tastes better.

    Metallic taste is obviously a myth.
    Yes, it happens sometimes that beer has such a flavour, but applies to both beer from bottles and from cans. The packaging doesn’t have any meaning here.
    Metallic taste comes from contained in beer iron ions, which can be there, to put it plainly, by the fault of brewery, for example from old damaged vats, pipes, etc.
    Aluminum can does not contain iron ions – so there is no possibility that it gave metallic taste. In addition, the inside of of the can is coated with a water-based coating, fully-neutral to content. At most, it may be a suggestion of drinker who consumes beer straight from the can. Just pour beer into a glass, to get rid of this feeling.


In recent years it can be seen that the cans are becoming more popular.
More and more crafted breweries willingly decide to pack their beers in cans.
Once that is more convenient for the customer – can is lightweight, unbreakable, no need to look for the opener, and besides, it is trendy.
Second – keeps the beer in an unaltered state.

A can is a miniature keg, which perfectly maintains all the aromas and flavours of beer. It is important to firmly hoped ales did not lose their valuable hop flavours – and a can it guarantee. It convinces to them growing number of breweries.


beer in cans


In addition arises more and more companies services canning beer. No need to invest in expensive equipment, just order a mobile line for canning and enjoy a beer straight from the can.
Not only that – at larger beer festivals in the UK have already set up such mobile lines. On request they will pack selection beer in a can, which you can take home and enjoy it in a comfortable chair.

It seems that in the brewing industry, nothing is able to threaten the expansion of a can and it will soon become at least as popular as bottle.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

one × five =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.