Canned Beer / by Greg Westrich

I won't drink beer out of a can. I came to that conclusion one chill, rainy night sitting around a campfire in West Virginia. I had driven from Maryland to hang out, hike, and cave with some friends from Ohio. I got to the National Forest campground before dark and made camp in the middle of a field. I made a fire in a light drizzle and sat, waiting for my friends to arrive. A person gets thirsty waiting in the rain, watching cloud tatters drift around Seneca Rocks. But Boonie was bringing the beer.


Well after dark, Boonie and the beer arrive. He brought Milwaukee's Best in cans. I drank about half a beer and swore I'd never drink beer out of a can again. I kept my promise for almost twenty years.


Recently, several Maine craft breweries began selling their beer in cans. I avoided them. Sorry, Baxter Brewing, but unless it's draft or in a bottle, I'll pass. But more and more craft brews were showing up in cans at the store. It was getting annoying, but I stayed strong. I'll sit in Mason's with a pint and a plate of dirty fries, but pass on their canned ale. And that porter from New Hampshire with the cool painting of birch trees on the can, it remained a mystery.


Last year I had a pint of Funky Bow's So Folkin' Hoppy IPA at a bar in Freeport. It tasted fresh and green with just the right amount of bitter aftertaste to make me wash it away with another drink. I'm a sucker for really hoppy ales.


Back home, I wanted more, but Funky Bow only sell their beer in cans. I took a chance and bought a six pack. I poured a Funky Bow into my favorite pint glass—the one from 50/50 Brewery in Truckee, California. It tasted just fine. In fact, it was cold and crisp like a freshly picked apple. The dam was breached. Now I regularly buy canned beer.


According to the experts, beer poured from a can is indistinguishable from beer poured from a bottle. That's been my experience. The problem all those years ago was that I drank the beer straight from the can. That and the fact that Milwaukee's Best sucks.