I do love that there are so many beers out there with their own little story to tell. Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues is one such beer in that it kick-started the use of cans in craft brewing when it was released back in 2002.
That sounds pretty cool right - but then you remember that misspent youth swilling Hoffmiester out of a can in the early 90s and you think… “Wait a minute - wasn’t beer always available in a can?”
For anyone alive today (that includes you even though the pandemic has sucked the will to live from us all) the answer is basically yes - beer was first canned back in 1935 by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company of Newark, New Jersey.
There were various stages of can development over the next 30 years or so but, to be fair, the history of canning isn’t exactly riveting (is that a pun?) so we’ll leave our history lesson there for the time being.
What this fact does point to though are a couple of things. The craft beer scene was actually quite slow on the uptake when it comes to cans and, also, that craft brewing is somewhat narcissistic and egocentric; beer has been canned for almost 100 years but we celebrate when it first appeared in craft brewing?!
Cans are certainly popular now and it's a decent means of delivering beer to the masses. They are, of course, recyclable and lightweight but electricity used in smelting is high and the carbon cost involved depends on how clean the power source is and therefore can be quite high. The carbon footprint of aluminium recycling is also about 0.5 tons CO2 per ton of aluminium, which isn’t negligible.
What would be really great would be to see our ground breaking and environmentally minded craft beer scene help push forward some of the new packaging that is slowly appearing; recycled PET plastic, biodegradable seed oil plastics and cellulose fibre instead of glass - not to mention square format packaging to make for greater efficiency in transport. The carbonation element of beer makes things trickier, but we like a challenge don't we... especially when there's an apparent willingness to pay extra for sustainability.
Ok, got that off my chest, so let’s try this ground breaking beer, from a can…
It's a beautiful opulent orange gold in the glass. The nose screams classic APA brimming over with malt and tropical hop aromas; guava and mango balanced by some lovely earthy elements. The palate is smoo-ooth with super bright bitterness keeping the malt in check but still allowing those tropical notes to have their say. Marvellous!
Well that was about as American as a pale ale can be - the sort you'd expect the Dukes of Hazard to drink after getting out of their Dodge and walking into the local bar. And, yes, I'll admit, the can did do an admirable job delivering the beer to my glass. Well done can.