Over the past two years, the craft beer community has made significant strides to reach hungry consumers within the GTA. We are seeing craft beers represented in our liquor store in growing numbers, at outdoor summer events dedicated solely to their market, and in trendy restaurants, which have more varieties than they do seats. Showing up in all of these places as one of the leading craft beers on the market is Boston-based beer company, Samuel Adams.
Photo Credit: Abbey Sharp
With more than 50 styles including its Boston Lager, Latitude 48 IPA, and seasonal varieties, Sam Adams has certainly made a significant splash in the Toronto market this year alone. It was a popular choice amongst Beerfest-goers, kept foodies dry and warm at awesTRUCK, and appeared as the secret ingredient and beer sponsor in the Delicious Food Show finale of Abbey’s Kitchen Stadium.
Abbey’s Kitchen Stadium Battle One – Photo Credit: Scott Ramsay Photography
But despite their busy Toronto events schedule this year, the team have been gearing up for the long-awaited release of their groundbreaking product – the Sam Can. For those of you thinking it may be silly to get excited about releasing a beer in a can when drinking from bottles or glassware is usually preferred and superior, you’ve missed the entire point. That is why the beer-loving community is drunk with excitement.
The unique lip of the Sam Can. Photo Credit: Abbey Sharp
The product is not just a traditional can printed with the Sam Adams iconic Samuel Adams patriot cartoon, but rather, it’s a whole new one-of-a-kind beer drinking experience. The Sam Adams team have spent two years and a million dollars in ergonomic and sensory testing. The goal has been to mimic the premium taste and comfort of drinking from a glass or bottle, but with a less expensive and more convenient can. Samuel Adams Founder and Brewer Jim Koch said, “In the past, I had my doubts about putting Sam Adams in a can because I wasn’t convinced that Boston Lager would taste as good as it does from a bottle.”
However, with the help of Roy Desrochers, a recognized beer flavour expert for the Master Brewers’ Association of the Americas (MBAA), Koch uncovered the secret to a more flavourful beer experience – the importance of aroma in the perception of flavour. The Sam Adams team found that the position of the can’s opening and a wider lid would instinctually lead the drinker to open up their mouth, allowing for greater air flow and positioning of the drinker’s nose closer to the hop aromas of the beer. Sensory evaluation also revealed that the extended, curved lip of the can helped deliver the beer to the front of the palate to maximize the early enjoyment of the malt sweetness. In other words, the beer tastes smoother, and it’s just more comfortable to drink.
To test out the scientific findings in real life, I called up two of my favourite beer lovers to get their insight on today’s can drinking experience: David Ort, a local beer aficionado, food and drink writer, and author of The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook, and Dustin Gallagher, former Top Chef Canada competitor, and champion of Abbey’s Kitchen Stadium Battle Sam Adams Beer.
Dustin Gallagher & Abbey Sharp at the Abbey’s Kitchen Stadium Championship with Samuel Adams Beer as the Secret Ingredient. Photo Credit: Scott Ramsay Photography
Cans or bottles?
Gallagher: Both are good. Cans are more convenient but will always have a tinny taste, better for Lagers or Pilsners. Also, each style of beer is unique to the vessel it is in.
Ort: I drink a lot of beer that only comes in bottles, but when I have the choice I usually go with cans.
Cookbook Author, David Ort. Photo Credit: Cheryl Bulpitt
Interesting. So David, I’m sure you’ve got a lot of reasons for your choice. Give me the rundown on why you’re team can?
Ort: Cans are usually sold as singles, so for a given amount of money you can get more variety by buying say four different cans rather than a six-pack of the same bottles. Cans chill more quickly than bottles do, so since I don’t have much fridge space I appreciate this feature more than those who have space to keep a 2-4 of bottles in their basement fridge. In situations where broken glass would be a bad thing – the beach, the cottage, a hot tub – cans have a definite edge. [Also], since cans are opaque the beer inside can’t be light-struck and go skunky. Finally, my understanding is that even though some bottles are washed and reused, each can has a smaller environmental impact than each bottle.
Alright, legit answer, David. So Dustin, what do you think most restaurants sell more of, cans or bottles?
Gallagher: Each restaurant is different. Depends on the list and quality of beer. Restaurants will also benefit by using a glass to pour into so therefore beer quality always is the deciding factor.
Hmm, well maybe you won’t need that glass with the Sam Can. What do you think most people like about drinking out of bottles over cans?
Gallagher: More durable.
Ort: There is an outdated perception that beer can pick up a “tinny” flavour from cans. There is [also] a certain romance to a bottle, especially large or specially designed ones that cans don’t have.
I had never thought of beer as romantic but I guess that’s a personal thing. So maybe this is why many people think of cans as less “sophisticated” than bottles.
Ort: Or maybe it’s that bars where bar fights happen have banned bottles and only serve cans.
Speaking of bars, with St. Patty’s Day approaching, you’ll be happy to know that the new Samuel Adams Boston Lager 473ml Sam Cans are now available in the LCBO for $2.85 each.
When you give the new cans a try, tweet a picture to @SamuelAdamsCA on St. Patty’s Day (March 17th) with the hashtag #SamCanLove for a chance to win a wicked Sam Adams gift basket. Happy drinking and good luck!
This post was contributed as part of a partnership between the Toronto Standard, Abbey’s Kitchen and the sponsors for Abbey’s Kitchen Stadium events.
Abbey Sharp is the founder of abbeyskitchen.com and a lover of all things food-related. She is the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen food media brand, an experienced event hostess and has a BASc. in Nutrition and Food. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.