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Never Mind the Can: This New Lagunitas IPA is Great

March 02, 2017

By Bryan Roth, March 02, 2017

Good lord, do people love to talk about putting beer in cans.

Google tells me there are pages on pages of news stories from the past year that discuss some variation of craft beer and cans. There is a website wholly dedicated to tracking what beer goes into cans, although updates haven’t come in months, a time period in which I’m sure we would have had dozens of additional posts.

For years – really, years – writers covering the beer industry have written stories on a near monthly basis about this “hot, new trend” in craft beer.

Sometimes I think the only thing that can keep me up at night is the fear of awaking to 500 more words spilled about liquid inside aluminum casing. Yet here I am, writing about beer in cans. The irony of it all.

Back in 2012, when cans were already “the hottest packaging trend of the last couple years,” Lagunitas owner Tony Magee went on one of this infamous Twitter rants, condemning the environmental cost of producing aluminum cans. He apparently swore he would never put Lagunitas beers in the packaging, then reversed course four years latter when the brewery announced it’s newest pale ale, 12th of Never, would go in cans because “beer lovers think cans are cool and we recognize they can go places glass cannot.”

As far as I’m concerned, the most important place we should be worrying about canned beer going is into our mouths and filtered through our liver. Not what brought it to the table in front of us.

This is the beer session IPAs strive to be.”

And, as a beer, 12th of Never is exactly what you’d want from a hop-focused pale ale, let alone one you’d expect coming from Lagunitas, whose beers are beloved for their reputation to produce descriptors such as “dank.”

12th of Never follows through. Hops explode off the nose. “Bright and citrusy” is a great way to think of this beer, as the lighter body and alcohol by volume (just 5.5%) make it frighteningly easy to drink.

This is the beer session IPAs strive to be, with late addition hops driving all the aroma and taste with very little bitterness. Green onion and herbal qualities turn to citrus by the time each sip wears off. You can drink this beer fast and loose: It’s good enough to concentrate on if you so choose, but it’s also easy enough to not be a “thinking beer,” where it’s perfect for just drinking.

Magee may have promised that Lagunitas would be the last brewery in the country to can, which is obviously not the case. In a post from January, Brewers Association economist Bart Watson highlighted the increased attention paid to cans. While bottles clearly outsell their light-weight, metal counterparts, the percentage of cans representing the overall amount of packaged beer has been rising.

Breweries of all sizes from all over are turning to cans as a viable packaging option to keep their beers fresh and easily portable. That’s fine and good, so long as we can focus more on what’s inside, especially if it can be as pleasing as what Lagunitas finally offered up.



ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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