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.

  • Isn't it nitrogen in the widget? – Dean Jan 21 '14 at 21:25
  • It does indeed, good catch! – Lars Kotthoff Jan 21 '14 at 21:28
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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.

  • 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

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.

  • 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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.