Homebrewing beer is not just a hobby; it's a craft that allows enthusiasts to experiment with flavors, aromas, and brewing techniques. One critical decision in the homebrewing process is choosing the right container for your liquid masterpiece. The debate between cans and bottles has been ongoing among homebrewers, each side championing its own set of advantages. In this blog post, we'll explore the trade-offs associated with using cans versus bottles for your homebrewed beer.
One of the primary concerns for homebrewers is the potential for oxidization, which can negatively impact the flavor and aroma of the beer. Cans have a significant advantage in this department as they create a more airtight seal, minimizing the exposure to oxygen. Bottles, on the other hand, can allow small amounts of air to seep in, especially if the cap isn't securely sealed. This can result in a faster aging process and a noticeable decline in beer quality over time.
Effect of Light
Light exposure is another factor that can affect the quality of your homebrewed beer. Ultraviolet (UV) light can cause a phenomenon known as "skunking," where the hops in the beer react with light and produce off-flavors. Cans offer superior protection against light, as they completely block out UV rays. Bottles, especially those made of clear or green glass, are more susceptible to light exposure, making them a less optimal choice for preserving the beer's freshness.
Weight for Shipping
If you're planning to share your homebrewed creations with friends or submit them to competitions, the weight of your chosen container becomes a crucial consideration. Cans are generally lighter than bottles, making them a more convenient option for shipping. The reduced weight not only makes shipping more cost-effective but also decreases the risk of breakage during transit. For homebrewers who want to share their creations beyond their local community, the weight advantage of cans can be a game-changer.
Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use, both cans and bottles have their pros and cons. Cans are easier to store, stack, and cool quickly. They are also less prone to breakage, making them a safer option for those who enjoy outdoor activities like camping or hiking. However, bottles offer a more traditional and nostalgic experience for many homebrewers. The process of capping bottles may take a bit more time and effort, but some argue that it adds a personal touch to the brewing experience.
Ease of Packaging
Cans have become increasingly popular in the craft beer industry due to their convenience in terms of packaging. They are more space-efficient, allowing for more units to be stacked in a given space. Additionally, cans are quick and easy to label, providing ample space for creative and eye-catching designs. Bottles, while still a classic choice, may require more effort in terms of labeling and packaging, especially if you opt for traditional crown caps and labels.
When comparing the costs associated with cans and bottles, factors such as production, labeling, and shipping all come into play. While the initial cost of canning equipment may be higher, the lower production costs per unit can make cans a more economical choice in the long run. Additionally, the reduced weight of cans can result in lower shipping costs. However, the price of aluminum has been subject to fluctuations, which can impact the overall cost-effectiveness of cans. Bottles, while generally more affordable in terms of equipment, may incur higher shipping expenses due to their weight.
Homebrew Beer Competition Submissions
If you're considering entering your homebrewed beer into competitions, the choice between cans and bottles can influence the judges' perception. Some competitions have specific rules regarding packaging, and you'll need to ensure that your chosen container meets the criteria. While cans are gaining acceptance in competitions, bottles still hold a traditional charm and may be favored in certain circles. Researching the rules of the competition and understanding the preferences of judges can help you make an informed decision.
In the ongoing debate of cans vs. bottles for homebrewed beer, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each option comes with its own set of advantages and trade-offs, and the decision ultimately depends on your priorities as a homebrewer. Whether you prioritize the airtight seal of cans, the traditional appeal of bottles, or the practicality of shipping, carefully weighing these factors will help you make an informed choice that aligns with your brewing style and goals. As the craft beer scene continues to evolve, both cans and bottles will likely remain integral to the diverse world of homebrewing. Browse our selection of traditional 12 oz. amber colored beer bottles or our 50 pack of 16 oz. aluminum beer cans with lids.