Cans vs. Bottles: BeerWise

Everybody knows bottled beer tastes better than canned beer. Does it really?

Smell greatly affects taste. Remember how you’d pinch your nose when you had to take awful tasting medicine when you were a kid? Pinching your nose made the medicine virtually flavorless, until you let go.

When you tip back a can of beer, it tastes “tinny”. Canned beer doesn’t taste tinny. The smell of the can makes the beer seem to taste that way. When you tip back a bottle of beer it tastes better than the canned beer because glass has no smell. Therefore people have concluded bottled beer is better than canned beer. Not true.

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How to make drinking beer from a can taste the same as drinking beer from a bottle: hold your breath when you’re drinking it; or, pinch your nose. When the can is no longer in smelling range, breath; or, let go of your nose. Voila. Sound like a stupid idea? It is. That’s why you should drink beer in a glass. If you don’t you’re missing out on all the aromas that are deliberately included in the brewing process to enhance the flavor of the beer.

If it tastes the same then why the different vessels?

Bottles are for the good stuff: Customers prefer bottles to cans because they look cooler, feel better in your hand, and don’t have the tinny smell/taste. Plus, they pour nicely. Most importantly, a bottle seems fancier. Imagine bringing a can of wine to a friend’s place for dinner. Same idea. For all these reasons, most brewers package their best product in bottles.

Cans are for the cheap stuff: Even if cans didn’t have their bad taste reputation, they’d still have their cheap beer reputation. Historically, bargain beer comes in cans. Why? Cans are cheaper and easier to ship than bottles; and, cans aren’t susceptible to light damage. The brewer passes on the savings to the customer. The beer inside isn’t as good but if you’re buying cheap beer you probably aren’t concerned about flavor or quality.


With the rise of the craft beer revolution, more and more beer drinkers are choosing to drink from a glass. As such, the need to sell product in a bottle is decreasing. Many small brewers are opting for cans to save production costs and reduce spoilage. In doing so they just might redeem the can.

Don’t let the packaging stray you from a great beer. Great beer comes in bottles and cans.


Photo credit: w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines) / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: mariateresat. / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND


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  1. David Stanley says:

    Just like wine, every ‘serious’ beer drinker should have the proper variety of beer glasses. Not only does the beer taste, and smell, better, the ‘cool factor’ is undeniable.

    • There are definitely some very cool beer glasses out there. I have a small and growing collection myself.

  2. Cans also preserve beer better. Aside from drastic changes in temperature the number one reason for off flavors in your beer at home is its exposure to light. No matter how brown the bottle light is always slowly ruining your beer. With cans there’s a much longer shelf life since it is in essence a “micro-keg” and exposure to light is not a concern.

    Great write up. There’s just too much good beer out there in cans for people to turn the nose up at it. They’ll be missing out on some delicious stuff!

    • Thanks Eric and I agree. I’ve had some great canned beers this past year that I would never have tried if I truly believed bottled is always better.

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