Beer Drinking Report: Craft Beer in Big Cans

Iron Mike Pale Ale

Iron Mike Pale Ale

There’s something about drinking beer out of a can — even bad beer — that makes it taste better. Even Corona in a can ain’t half bad. And I’m not afraid to confess that I’ve drunk my share of PBR Tallboys.

So when craft breweries started putting good beer in cans a few years back, I was in heaven. Today, there are nearly 300 craft beers from more than 100 breweries around the country. has a pretty good list here.

But for whatever reason, there’s still not a very good variety of canned craft brews available here. At most every half-decent beer store you go to, you can find the Butternuts beer in a can. The only problem is, it’s nasty. I mean like skunked beer nasty. Oh, it’s craft beer all right, but it’s pretty much undrinkable.

I had tried the Porkslap Pale Ale once upon a time, and wasn’t too impressed, but one day this winter I stumbled upon their 12-pack mixer of cans, which also includes their Moo Thunder Stout, an IPA, and a Hefeweizen. I was able to stomach the stout, but the rest was terrible. I would’ve preferred a 12 of Coors Light, which is saying something.

The only other canned beer I’ve found to be readily available in these parts is Oskar Blues out of Colorado. I’ve tried the Dale’s Pale Ale, and it was OK, but nothing special. And though I’ve never had it, I’ve been told by a reliable source that their IPA is horrid, so I’m not anxious to sample their others.

Harpoon IPA

Harpoon IPA

One brewery that’s definitely doing things right is Harpoon. Granted, their IPA is one of my all-time favorite beers anyway, but when you put it in a can, as they did for the first time last summer, it’s even better. They also can their summer beer, which I’m looking forward to getting my hands on soon.

Last week, I was craving some good canned craft beer, and went looking for something different. They had the Butternuts, and the Oskar Blues. I was about to grab a 12-pack of bottles when I spotted it sitting in the cooler next to the cans of malt liquor — Moat Mountain Iron Mike Pale Ale. “Everyone loves big cans,” trumpeted the slogan on the can. I had to have it.

Sure, it was $5, but it was also a solid 24 ounces of 5.6 percent alcohol beer. And it wasn’t your ordinary pale ale. It tasted almost like a red, with some real flavor to it. It was well worth the price.

Brew Free! Or Die IPA

Brew Free! Or Die IPA

Another canned brew I enjoy is the 21st Amendment Brewery out of California’s Brew Free! or Die IPA. It’s not easy to find, but you can find it. It comes in six-packs in a cool recycled cardboard box, and the beer is really good. They also make some kind of a watermelon beer that they put in a can, but I haven’t summoned up the courage to try it just yet. Something about watermelon and beer doesn’t sound right.

The Beer Drinker also mentioned to me this week that Brooklyn now puts its beer in cans. Brooklyn is one of my favorite breweries, so I’ve got to get my hands on some of that. Looks like they’ve got both their regular Brooklyn Lager and their Summer Ale in cans. Brooklyn!

Happy Birthday to … Local Breweries
Two of my favorite local breweries, Harpoon here in Boston and Redhook up in New Hampshire, are celebrating big birthdays this summer. Harpoon is planning all sorts of big things for their 25th anniversary, and Redhook, which got its start in Washington state, is celebrating 30 years.

Redhook is having a big bash at their Portsmouth location Saturday. They’re also launching a new rebranding which involves changing the bottle size to squatter, more Red Stripe style containers, changing their labeling, and reconfiguring their beer lineup. Ted, our man at Redhook, tells us the new packaging has already started to trickle out, but it may be a few more weeks before the old packaging is cleared out.

To celebrate its birthday, Liz from Harpoon tells us the brewery’s cofounders, Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary, will be brewing a special beer, called Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA. I’m looking forward to trying that one.
Mr. X is a contributor to the Beer Drinking Report.