Can vs. Bottle: what is better?

Published : 04/06/2017 10:41:26
Categories : Beer

Image from comacgroup


Dear beer lovers. You might already know that the beer market in Thailand has grown unimaginably in recent years. Lucky us! Now we could casually go to many bars and restaurants, supermarkets, or even specialized shops for beer and grab some imported craft brews – of all shapes and sizes – from around the world. Believe it or not!

Things are looking great in general, but sometimes they develop so quickly that we overlook some of very interesting and important movements. There are some changes that we would like you all to notice and today we are going to talk about the increasing proportion of canned beer on the shelves. Yes, the packaging trends are actively changing. But what’s the reason? A lot of people, as far as we know, perceive cans as something that are cheap and tasteless – unlike the glass bottles. So, what’s the reason behind thisnew tendency? Is it just a fashion? Has the technology totally shifted? Does it have anything to do with the craft beer boom and our new beer drinking behavior? Perhaps it does.  

Here we make a brief comparative review of both types of packages based on scientific evidences and experts’ opinions.     

The battle begins!


Protection of Beer


Image from showcaseocala


Some of you might have already heard that in fact the cans had advantages over bottles. That’s right. Normally aluminum performs better when it comes to protecting the beer from its external threats; heat, oxygen and even light – which is the main cause of the “skunked” beer. However, several beer experts don’t want us to just rush into conclusions. They point out that, with today’s technology, an ordinary amber-colored glass bottle could already prevent up to 99% of the wavelength of light and the current packaging systems also greatly reduce the risk exposures during the production process.

Nevertheless, the design of aluminum can is obviously superior to that of glass bottle in keeping the air out of the beer. A can generally makes a perfect, airtight seal with so little headspace while a bottle does not. That means a canned beer would face a smaller amount of risk of oxidation when compared to a bottled one, and it “might” taste fresher as a result.

Winner: Can


Weight and Portability


Image from bloomberg


This is not a complicate issue. Aluminum cans weight obviously less than the bottles. The difference becomes more prominent when it is either a long distance transport or a large shipment of beers.

Another important point is that the cans are not as fragile as the glass bottles. The reduced risk of breakage gives canned beer a leg up here. Besides, any festival staff and beer place owners will definitely agree that it is easier to store and stack the cans than the bottles.

Winner: Can


Environmental Impact


Image from mothernaturenetwork


As cansgenerallyweight less (actually about 4.5 kilograms lighter, per case), and are smaller than bottles, their shipments are much more economic in every sense. With cans, less fuel will be used in the supply chain.

What’s more is that, as the picture shown above, cans could be recycled a lot more efficiently than glass bottles and even PET plastic bottles. Well, who don’t want to go green nowadays?  

Winner: Can


Traditional brewing techniques


Image from wikipedia


It’s true that, with numerous advantages mentioned, canning is an excellent packaging system for the beers that require high level of freshness, for example IPAs and pilsners. However, it’s not the casefor every style of beer. There are a lot of traditional recipes that are more suitable to bottles, especially those that need to go through a bottle-fermentation process. The volume of CO2 that would build up during the bottle-conditioning could be so high that such a thin aluminum wall of a can “cannot” contend. It might simply explode, to be clear.   

Winner: Bottle




Image from draftmagazine


It is a bit difficult to name the winner in this topic. Although some people are sure that bottled beers are better for cellaring, we would like you to look at this issue from a bigger picture and take into account that most of the beers we tend to cellar are of the styles that naturally fit better with the bottling system. Therefore, it is just unfair to judge that cans perform worse than bottles in cellaring.

Anyways, if you really want to analyze the difference between the two types of packages that might affect the cellaring process, we would suggest you to look at the size of headspace. Different volumes of air in the package possibly alter the results. There is still no firm proof or any official experiment though, as of now. That’s why it is a draw.

Winner: It’s a draw for now.


Old-fashioned Romance


Image from francescomugnai


We believe that most of us would understand very well about the good, captivating feeling of classic stuff. Similar to reading an actual book or writing a letter by hand, a good old glass bottle – even its cap is a real cork, a swing top, or just a normalcrimped cap – always gives you that kind of warmth and unique sensation. This might be because aluminum cans are more related to industrial and automated production system in our eyes… and they don’t make any cheerful clinking sound.

Winner: Bottle


Alright everyone. Now we are reaching the end of this debate.

We have to announce that our winner is… the cans.

In fact, the topics we choose today are not really inclusive. Bottles and cans have a lot more different strong and weak points in every way. To say, the results will absolutely depend on the way we pick our topics in the first place. For example, bottles are working a lot better as weapons, right?

Nevertheless, our intention today is to find out which is the better package of the two. The result is cans. Cans keep the beer fresher and perform more efficiently than bottles in the whole beer supply chain. 

Cans will surely play more important roles in the beer industry, but we don’t think that bottles will disappear from the shelves in the end of the day. As we said before, it is hard to get that kind of classic romance from cans. Another thing is that those traditional-brewed bottled beer are so good that we don’t want them to go away. As Edith Wharton once said, “It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness”.



Rewritten from thrillist

Try the famous can by yourself

Paulaner Original Munchner Hell - 500 ml - 4.9%

Bavaria Premium Can - 500 ml - 5.0%

Evil Twin  Low Life Can - 473ml - 5.5%

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