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Sometimes, companies offer the same beer in bottles and in cans. Everything else being equal, should I go for the bottle or the can? I know that e.g. Guinness have their "floating widget" in their cans that releases nitrogen when you open it, but assume that this isn't the case.

In particular, I'm looking for the effects the inner coating/material of cans has on beer.

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    Isn't it nitrogen in the widget? – Dean Jan 21 '14 at 21:25
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    It does indeed, good catch! – Lars Kotthoff Jan 21 '14 at 21:28
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    Since the jury is still out on which is "greener", go with whatever is more easily recycled in your area! Taste be damned! – GhostToast Jan 21 '14 at 21:28
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    I don't think that this is opinion based. I'm explicitly mentioning the effects of the inner material on the beer, and the accepted answer goes into some detail on that. Whether or not metal cans make beer taste metallic isn't really a matter of opinion. – Lars Kotthoff Jan 22 '14 at 17:47
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    I believe (have heard, anyway) that the Guinness in cans is a slightly different recipe than the Guinness in bottles. No idea whether that's true (personally, I tend to only drink draft Guinness, and get Murphy's in cans). – user505255 Feb 1 '14 at 23:01
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A modern canned beer should never taste like metal. If it does, you're probably drinking straight from the can, and while the folks at The Alchemist might recommend that, I can't say I share their view.

Modern beer cans are lined with a water-based chemical that essentially ensures that your beer never touches metal. This in turn means that strictly speaking, canned beers will keep longer without being skunked, and pressurized packing means there's less air in a can then a bottle, which adds further preservative benefits.

That said, very few beers that are good enough for this decision to matter are offered in a choice of containers - most small breweries just don't have the capacity to both can and bottle - especially of the sort of small-batch stuff that you'd actually be interested in trying to cellar and age. Furthermore, there are significant environmental and economic arguments in favor of both bottles and cans.

At the end of the day, choose the packaging that's more convenient for you to store, consume from, and recycle when you're done. The quality difference is essentially insignificant.

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    TL;DR Buy beer in cans but pour into a glass to drink. But if you're buying to drink straight from the container then buy it in bottles. – hippietrail Mar 30 '14 at 4:20
  • Because a can will prevent beer from getting skunked, I'd recommend a can if you're going to drink it outside. A pretty short exposure to UV light will change a beer's flavor. Otherwise, try to use a coozy if drinking from a bottle. – Montijello May 24 at 19:43
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As you might expect, cans can impart a metallic flavor on some beer, but on the flip-side, they are much less prone to skunking. So if you're looking to store the beer for a while in a cool, dark place, I'd say bottle. However, if you plan on keeping it in a light place or outdoors, a can is probably your best bet.

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    Downvoted for "impart a metallic flavor". As mentioned by LessPop_MoreFizz, this is not true with modern cans. – Ryan Kinal Feb 12 '14 at 16:19
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I'd strongly dissuade anyone from ever drinking anything from an aluminum can, not just beer. As mentioned by LessPop_MoreFizz, beer cans are lined with a compound that attempts to prevent contact with the aluminum... That chemical, however, is Bisphenol A which is a potentially very dangerous chemical compound for your body when ingested...

CDC still says the chemical's health effects are unclear, research on chronic exposure has linked it to high blood pressure and heart rate issues. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/14/bottle-chemical-bpa-health-newser/20397547/

Depending on who you ask, one will get a variety of answers:

...has also become associated with a range of ailments, including cancer, reproductive trouble, and irregular brain development in kids. BPA is well established as an endocrine-disrupting chemical, meaning that it likely causes hormonal damage at extremely low levels. The question is whether we get enough of it in beer (and other canned goods) to cause harm. https://www.motherjones.com/food/2015/02/no-i-cant-why-im-turning-away-canned-craft-beer/

And this:

BPA, in small doses, has been linked to obesity, early onset of puberty, diabetes, heart disease, reduced penis size, growth of male breasts, and even mean girls. https://www.treehugger.com/health/who-cares-about-bpa-canned-beer-more-popular-ever.html

Also, let's hope that it is true that this compound prevents leaching of aluminum into beer considering aluminum is one of the most toxic heavy metals for the human body.

That said, if you don't really care about a little thing called "Your Health," then there are several pragmatic reasons for why aluminum is good for beer storage:

1.)Aluminum blocks light and oxygen from entering the beer itself

2.)Cans are generally lighter and smaller than bottles, making them easier to carry and store

3.)Cans can allow beer to become colder more quickly

https://learn.kegerator.com/beer-cans/

While the argument that beer spoils more quickly in bottles is accurate, who is letting the beer sit around long enough for that to happen?? Not I...

Also, while cans become colder quicker, they also become warmer more quickly when exposed to heat. Whereas, bottles will remain colder for much longer...

Finally, the taste issue - minimal research in your favorite search engine will show you that it is a 50/50 debate... some folks say it tastes like metal, some don't. This debate is non-existant when drinking from bottles, however...

With Guinness in particular, I always prefer the taste from bottle over that of the can... so in conclusion, ymmv but make it a bottle for me.

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  • I suppose it's up to which studies you want to to support... One thing is that the study from this article has yet to be peer reviewed. Another is the language they choose to use: "...suggested that BPA is safe at levels encountered by consumers." To me, that implies it is dangerous at certain levels... And, what a baby encounters is going to be much different than what a 30 year old encounters from, say, the same bottle of water... Finally, there are numerous studies that would report the contrary to the findings of the study from that article.... – Tim Burnett - Bassist May 24 at 14:26
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    You're right that BPA is dangerous at certain levels. Then again, drinking too much water in a short amount of time will kill you. It doesn't follow that just because something is bad for you in mass quantity that it must also be bad for you in small quantities. – Montijello May 24 at 19:30
  • This conversation feels more suited for the philosophy stack exchange at this point... While I agree with the age old rule of Socrates, 'everything in moderation,' there's a bit of a disconnect between water poisoning and that of poisoning by a synthetic chemical. To each his own of course - I'm not judging anyone... I'll ingest alcohol to whatever extent it kills me without a further thought, for example. But, I wouldn't want to knowingly ingest DDT or anything else of the sort in whatever tiny quantity that may not be proven as dangerous – Tim Burnett - Bassist May 28 at 14:29

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