It has its place for beer, seltzers and even wine
Making a Case for the Can
When you’re beaching it, boating, lounging around the pool or any other body of water and want an adult beverage, enjoying anything packaged in glass becomes a challenge. Not only is it heavy, it takes up a lot of space and is dangerous if broken. Many outdoor spots even ban glass.
Beer is arguably one of the most popular adult beverages for consuming outdoors; perhaps one of many reasons is its wide availability in cans. Craft beer, however, is another story. While it is all the rage, most brands come in bottles only, once again curtailing consumption for outdoor enthusiasts.
Dogfish Head, one of the more popular craft breweries, has finally canned SeaQuench Ale. The awardwinning sour brew consists of lime juice, lime peel, black limes and sea salt—it’s limey, slightly herbal on the finish and a good alternative for the margarita drinker. Thirst quenching, it’s also infused with minerals and is lower in calories (140) than many brews.
Dogfish Head also cans what was once a seasonal India pale ale found only in bottles. Liquid Truth Serum is now canned year- round. It’s hoppy with lots of citrus flavors such as orange, tangerine, mango and even a touch of stone fruits—an IPA for the waterways.
Hard ciders such as Angry Orchard can also now be found in cans, and there has been a boom in hard seltzers such as White Claw. This brand contains no preservatives; its alcohol comes from fermented sugars. Seltzers are generally low in calories and very refreshing when consumed outdoors. The most significant changes in the canned-beverage aisle involve wine. While many wine lovers have a hard time wrapping their heads around this, including me, it’s a perfectly practical fit for some people and occasions. Wine lovers don’t want to be restricted to enjoying this beverage while dining at a fancy table, when there is great food to be had at cookouts, picnics and other outdoor venues.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery was the first American winery to can its product, according to winemaker Meghan Rech, and it was with a sparkling wine. “It’s an offshoot from Sophia Blanc de Blancs, which was first produced in 1998 as a gift from Francis to his daughter, Sophia,” says Rech.
Four years later Coppola put Sophia
in a can, but it wasn’t as simple as it sounds. Extensive research and trials were performed to make sure the acid and sulfites in wine would not interact with the metal. A special lining had to be created for the wine cans.
Then there was the process of making Sophia. The method of fermenting and bottling sparkling wine could not be reproduced with a can. “We had to treat Sophia as a stand-alone, base wine first, then inject CO2 into the can for carbonation,” explains Rech.
The final test came in trying to replicate the taste of the bottled Sophia. She explains, “The aromatics are not the same when drinking out of a can as opposed to a glass.” This means Rech has to put more aromatic grapes into canned wines, grapes that might not be found in the bottled version but can still maintain the flavor profile.
Oak presents another quandary. It’s an important part of the fermenting and aging of many of Coppola’s wines. “Oak gives a different sensory profile,” Rech says. “When you think of wine in a can, you think of something fresh and fruit forward.”
The Diamond Collection is one the most successful collections of wines under the Coppola umbrella. Several of its white varietals were canned in 2017, and for the first time last summer, the winery canned a red—pinot noir.
I brought a four-pack to a recent party, and the room nearly fell silent. The looks on the faces of my wineloving friends reflected confusion, even disdain. Then they tried the wine. It was fresh and full of red fruit with a touch of sweetness.
There was a shift in perception and even some excitement that now there was an option for enjoying wine at locations and events that are impractical for bottles.
Just like wine in a bottle, the quality of what’s in the can could be compromised by extreme heat. Don’t leave it in the trunk of your car. As for how long to keep your cans, Rech says, “We like to say these have a shelf life of about a year. It can be longer or shorter, but that’s what we are comfortable with.”
For the wine purists who are still shaking their heads at the notion of drinking from cans, Rech says, “You can’t knock it until you try it.”
Traditionally bottled craft beers and even fine wines are now finding their way into cans, making for a more convenient way to tra nsport and consume these beverages during outdoor activities such as boating and lounging poolside, where glass containers are frowned upon.