Koch, a self-proclaimed purist, at first "stubbornly resisted" putting Sam Adams in cans. But after spending more than two years and $1 million developing a couple dozen prototypes, the "Sam Can" was born. Koch says that with a bigger lid and a more defined lip, the redesigned can forces your mouth open more and puts your nose closer to the opening, creating a better flavor experience.
Admittedly, it's "not going to make the angels sing when you drink it," says Koch, who is allowing other craft breweries to use the redesigned can. "But my experience with Sam Adams since I started it in my kitchen is that slight but noticeable improvements constantly and repeated over 30 years makes a great beer."
Meanwhile, Sly Fox Brewing Co. decided to go all the way and blew the lid off with its cans — literally.
In April, the Pennsylvania brewery began selling its Helles Golden Lager in cans with a peel-off top (think soup can). While litter laws prevent it from being sold in all states it distributes in, the can is getting noticed. The brewery also sells its flagship Pikeland Pils in the same cans exclusively at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
"There have been a lot of different mini-innovations ... but never that important to craft beer," said Sly Fox brewmaster Brian O'Reilly. "(The new can) is different and interesting to people, but there's a real benefit because you can smell the beer ... it really allows you to appreciate the full character of the beer."
Sly Fox still cans several of its beers in traditional aluminum cans and defends the polished package as a perfect fit for craft beer.
Its website even has a page that encourages beer drinkers to "respect the cans because the cans respect the beer." The page lists the benefits of cans — portable, space-saving, faster-cooling, more light-resistant and super-recyclable — and debunks myths that the cans impart a metallic taste to beer, are unsophisticated and don't store as well as bottles.