PORTAGE — Scott Freitas has a whole catalog of names for what it is: A mini-keg, an earth saver, a billboard, a handful of high tech, the “ultimate package for beer.” He can also tell you what it isn’t: “It is not your grandpa’s Budweiser.”
“It” is a can. It’s the only packaging Freitas uses for his craft brews from Latitude 42 in Portage, and it’s a growing trend in the rest of the craft beer world as well — Founders and Bell’s have both introduced canned lines in the last year.
For Freitas, however, canning is an old habit, not a new trend. He has sold his beer in cans since his days as head brewer at Maui Brewing Co., and when he helped found Latitude 42, it was the only option he discussed. “That’s all I was willing to do,” he says.
You can tell he’s a veteran of canning — and an enthusiastic one — because he fires off its facts and benefits faster, almost, than you can listen to them.
It’s cheap — simpler to make, lighter to ship and easier to store than bottles.
It’s safer, and thus more portable, than bottles — you can take it tons of places where glass is forbidden, which is especially handy in an outdoors-friendly state like Michigan.
It’s eco-friendly – easy to recycle and reuse. (If we recycled all the cans we’ve already got, says Freitas, we wouldn’t have to make another for 20 years.)
It’s a better billboard for brand and product than a narrow bottle label.
And most of all, it’s better for your beer. “Bottles bleed sunlight and leak oxygen,” says Freitas. A can doesn’t; it keeps beer fresher longer. And with advances in can tech – things like BPA-free liners – you no longer have to fear the tinny taste your grandfather’s Bud had. There’s no contact between liquid and metal at all.
But a lot of people don’t know that, especially the last part. Most craft beer, of course, is still sold in bottles, and many people assume better beer automatically comes in a better container. Cans are for macro, bottles for craft, they think.
That turns canners like Freitas into de-facto evangelists for cans, and that seems to be why all this information is on the tip of his tongue. He’s “always” educating customers, he says. “Step outside the box a little bit,” he tells them. “Things are changing these days.”
Give it a shot. You can try three different Latitude 42 brews (Lil’ Sunshine Golden Ale, Red Beard’s India Red Ale and Powerline Porter) in cans off your local store’s shelves, and the brewery will be adding new varieties soon.