Minor Innovations in Beer Technology: Sam Adams’ New ‘Sam Can’

In the beer business, quality and convenience are often at odds with one another. It’s universally accepted that the best-tasting beer is draft beer–assuming your draft lines are clean and everyting is in good working order. But a full keg of beer weighs 160 pounds, and that’s nothing you’d want to lug to the beach. Your next best bet is beer in bottles, which work great in most scenarios, but still aren’t perfect. Bottles are kind of heavy, they break if you drop them, they can be used as deadly weapons, and are often prohibited from places like swimming pools and airplanes for these reasons. So until the beer world makes my dreams come true and starts putting their suds into Tetra Pak-style boxes like my kid’s apple juice, that leaves us with cans. I’ve never had a problem with cans, except that not enough good beers actually come in cans. There are scientific reasons for this, something to do with the beer-to-air ratio, but it’s probably a consumer perception issue more than anything. Fortunately, that’s changing. Companies like Brooklyn’s Sixpoint brewery are putting some of their beers in snazzy, Red Bull-style cans. But Sam Adams is keeping it real by continuing to use the can style we’re all familiar with. They’ve just made a couple tiny tweaks that make a big difference. Pick up a Sam Can of Sam Adams Boston Lager and you’ll see what I mean. 

It won’t be evident at first. The can looks cool, but has the same squat dimensions of a can of Bud. The magic is up top. The opening is wider, it’s further away from the edge of the can, and it has a little flare on the lip. And that’s, well, pretty much it. That’s what "two years of ergonomic and sensory research and testing" get you. 

But before we scoff, let’s see if these innovations make a difference. I compared a new Sam Can with a traditional can of Boston Lager, side by side. Keeping in mind that the tweaks to the can are designed to enhance the pleasure (heh heh) of drinking straight from the can, I popped them both open and took generous slugs of each.

The difference? Like Sam Adams says, it’s minor, but it’s there. The beer from the Sam Can poured more smoothly into my mouth, hitting right on top of the most beer-loving part of my tongue. The beer from the regular can tasted good too. It’s Boston Lager, after all, a fine brew. But I did notice more of a glug-glug-glug in the pour, not so smooth and clean as the Sam Can. So, I can definitely feel a benefit to having a larger opening located further from the edge. As for the little flare on the lip, I really couldn’t notice any added turbitidy, but it’s nice to think it helps. 

Sam Adams is unveiling its Sam Cans of Boston Lager just in time for summer, so be sure to pick up a couple of cases for those scenarios when bringing bottles (or lugging a keg) would be inappropriate: the beach, the pool, your daughter’s school dance recital. Now if they could just find a way to muffle the sound of cracking one open, we’d really be in business. 

[For New York’s best beer bars, visit the BlackBook Guides; Related: Let’s Hear It for the Evolution of Booze Containers; Spiegelau Creates New IPA Beer Glass; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter

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