When it comes to beer, the container it comes in holds a lot of sway -- the debate between cans vs. bottles is an ongoing one, and totally subjective to each drinker. But have you ever wondered if there's really a difference in taste? Maybe we're just imagining that the beer tastes like the metal or glass. So, to put this argument to rest, we decided to conduct a blind taste test. Sierra Nevada recently launched two of their most popular beers in can form, and some craft breweries are also making the move over to cans. That got us thinking: Why the change?
Initial Thoughts About Cans vs. Bottles
Those who prefer canned beer say it's lighter and easier to transport than bottled beer, and of course it's easier to open because you don't need a bottle opener. Also, cans are completely airtight and keep out all light, so the beer never gets tainted. Those who prefer bottled beer say the bottle keeps the beer colder longer, and they don't drink canned beer because the aluminum imparts a metallic taste. But beer manufacturers have been lining their aluminum cans with a thin plastic since 1935 to prevent just that, so metallic taste should not be an issue unless you're licking the can. When it comes to the environment, there's a greater divide because those who prefer bottled say aluminum expends too much energy to produce.
The Beers We Tried
Our panel of 25 tasters tried four different brands of beer: Budweiser, Heineken, Sierra Nevada and Sapporo, in both cans and bottles. We poured the beers into cups for tasting so no one could identify them. Our tasters compared the beers side by side and wrote down which they thought was canned and which they preferred.
Our results were pretty surprising: tasters preferred the canned beer in 3 out of the 4 cases (though overall, tasters only preferred it by a hair, edging out bottled beer with 51 percent of the vote). On average, 54 percent of testers correctly identified the canned beer, meaning it's not as easy to tell the difference as our tasters may have thought. Check out out all the results in the slideshow below.
64 percent of participants correctly identified the canned Budweiser. 17 percent of participants preferred the taste of the canned Budweiser over the bottled.
52 percent of participants correctly identified the canned Heineken. 68 percent of participants preferred the taste of the canned Heineken over the bottled.
56 percent of participants correctly identified the canned Sapporo. 52 percent preferred the taste of the canned Sapporo over the bottled.
44 percent of participants correctly identified the canned Sierra Nevada Torpedo. 68 percent of participants preferred the taste of the canned Sierra Nevada Torpedo over the bottled.