Celebrated suds are turning up in suddenly cool beer cans

Story by G.A. Benton l Photo by Jodi Miller

I used to pity beer cans. Though endowed with enviable assets--shatterproof and impervious to air and light, they keep suds fresher and therefore safer from skunky flaws than bottles do--cans nonetheless got mired in a coarse and downscale image.

Forced into underprivileged, bargain-basement-like outerwear, cans rarely ran with the glamorous six-packs, and more often hung out with the lowly swills of beer society. You might've noticed things are changing.

In our increasingly enlightened carbon-fuel-consuming times, top-tier breweries are capitalizing on other advantages cans enjoy over bottles. Being substantially lighter and comparatively compact, they're more easily stacked, stored and transported--translating into real energy savings. Other positives result from the fact that crushable cans are more simply, completely and frequently recycled.

Toss in modern "liners" that eliminate metallic aftertastes, factor in upturning palates in a downturned economy, and you'll understand why celebrated ales and lagers in formerly humble cans are suddenly as cool and in demand as dressed up French fries and fancified sliders.

That's why high-profile imports and great American microbrews have been turning up in flashy metal containers--with fun approaches to graphics and branding--at local hotspots like these.