Ægir was the first craft beer brewery in Norway to change nearly their entire product range from bottles to cans in 2016. We invested heavily in a full canning line for a number of very important reasons. Number one: that cans are the best alternative to keep light and oxygen away from the beer.
Contrary to what people might think, the beer stays fresher longer in cans than glass bottles. In this way we can ensure that the beer is as close to brewery-fresh as possible when it reaches the customer. Our founder, Evan Lewis, explains that bottle caps will not seal 100% against seepage of air into the package as cans do.
“TPO (total Package Oxygen) measured in PPB (Parts Per Billion or mg/l) is a number we get from analyzing both the dissolved oxygen in the beer and the headspace in the package after filling. This number is often between 20-50PPB when filling our cans, which is very low. Unfortunately a bottle cap will let in up to two PPB per day into a bottle of beer, so it doesn’t take many days of storage before the bottled beer is degrading faster than the same beer in cans, which are completely sealed.”
Oxygen, light and temperature
It is a well known fact that beer’s biggest enemies are oxygen, light and temperature. Of these three, oxygen is the worst. When oxygen gets in contact with the beer, an aging process begins known as oxidation. The flavor of the beer will diminish over time and it will taste stale and lifeless. That is why it is so important to protect beer from oxygen.
Light also contributes to degradation of beer and ultraviolet light is the bad guy. The UV light reacts with the hops and can quickly create an unpleasant aroma and taste. While bottles often come in three different versions (clear, green and brown), cans are completely opaque. When it comes to bottles, the clear and the green ones will always let more light in than the brown ones, and therefore expose the beer to more to UV light. So in other words, brown bottles are the best option in that category.
High temperature also contributes to speeding up the prosess of oxydation so it is important to keep beer cool, or cold. Lower temperatures will also contribute to better shelf life, so in other words cans has the upper hand when it comes to storage quality.
Speaking of storage of beer, there are of course styles that do better over time than others, and even some that age very well, similar to wine.
“All of our beer which should be consumed fresh goes in to cans, while we still bottle some styles which lend themselves better for storage. Here we are talking about sour beers or darker, stronger varieties. These styles will stand up better against the oxidation process and won´t degrade so noticeably over time. All beer will change as it ages, but some styles age well and take on new flavors that don’t detract from the product” Evan explains.
The environmental benefits from choosing cans over bottles are also of paramount importance to us at Ægir. Evan is quick to explain what the best alternative is, as evidenced by cost of transportation and recycling.
"Due to packaging density and the low weight of cans we can fit twice the number of units on a truck compared to transporting empty bottles. The weight is atually 90 % lower!" That means a lot less fuel consumption both for transporting the empty cans in, packaged goods out, and used cans for recycling. The energy consumption is also lower when melting aluminium compared to melting glass for recycling, and metal recycles forever with no degradation. Cans are a clear win for the environment." Evan explains.
So there you have it - canned beer is fresher beer and a better environmental choice as well, making our products better for the end costumer and the world around us. We are rooting for the environment and hope everyone else does the same!