Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Celebrate Beer Can Appreciation Day with the pioneers

Ron Swarner

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Celebrate Beer Can Appreciation Day at Peaks and Pints in Tacoma.

Yes, it’s Beer Can Appreciation Day today, commemorating that storied day in 1935 when the world was introduced to a beautiful and paradigm-changing concept: canned beer. Krueger Brewing Company of Richmond, Virginia walked into a grocery store carrying a steel can that weighed in at almost 4 ounces and opened with a church key.

Not long after, beer cans fell out of vogue.

Not so anymore: today, the beer can industry is overflowing with smartly designed graphics and artwork on canned beer. Many believe that today’s wave of craft beer in a can began with Colorado’s Oskar Blues, who claims to be the first modern craft American craft brewery to can its beer. Since Oskar Blues’ inception in 2002, breweries have followed suit.

Founded by Dale Katechis in 1999, Oskar Blues Brewery began life as a simple brewpub. The people of Lyons, Colorado, visited and drank often, but none of the place’s beers were available anywhere except draft lines in the immediate area. It wasn’t until that fateful day in November 2002 that Katechis decided to package his brews, and then he had a decision to make. Would he invest, as most emerging craft breweries were, in a bottling line and a responsible order of 12-ounce bottles? Or would he go all in on cans, a more expensive option that at the time was the realm of the big brewers and soda producers?

Katechis ignored the status quo, and by 2003 the “Canned Beer Apocalypse” had begun. Dale’s Pale Ale, Oskar Blue’s flagship American pale, was the first to hit shelves. Gordon, an imperial red now known as G’Knight, came soon after. And then, in 2007, Ten FIDY arose.

Flash forward 10 years, Mike Runion and Travis Guterson sat in their Gig Harbor offices pondering how to package their 7 Seas Brewing Co.’s craft beer. The duo became the first to can in Washington state. Not focusing on the cost, owners Mike Runion and Travis Guterson canned their beers for quality and environmental reasons. Light is destructive to the organic compound in beer. Cans block light and are an effective barrier to oxygen, meaning the only thing limiting the freshness of 7 Seas beer in the can is the time it takes to get from the brewer to a beer lovers mouth/glass.

All that is true, but the mounting consumer preference for canned beer also has to do with convenience. From the beach, to hiking, to golf courses, cans often are able to go places bottles can’t. Stomp on one and you have more room in the backpack for the hike back to the car.

So enjoy Beer Can Appreciation Day. Until Tomorrow. Jan. 25 is “Opposite Day,” which means you’ll reach for a craft beer bottle.

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