By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Ah, the can. Its history began when Napoleon in 1795 offered a prize to anyone who could invent a method of preserving food for his soldiers. According to the Can Manufacturers Institute, by 1809, Nicolas Appert had invented food preservation by sterilization in bottles, and the following year, Englishman Peter Durand developed iron cans coated with tin to prevent rusting. Cans, easy to transport and less likely to break than glass, soon became the cure to scurvy-plagued sailors and soldiers, not to mention countryside pillagers.
The process for packaging carbonated beverages in cans didn’t come to the fore until about 1930 when researchers developed coatings that wouldn’t dissolve under pressure. The first soft drink cans appeared in 1938, because it took a few years to work out the bugs. But beer wasn’t afraid of sissy glitches. In 1935 there were steel cans of Krueger in Virginia. The new packaging was so popular that by 1950, a quarter of all beer sales were canned. The lightweight aluminum can and the pull-ring bumped up can’s popularity in the 1960s. Today, the Brewers Association estimates that about 55 percent of all beer sales are in cans.
In Oregon, canned craft beers had a short hurdle to jump: Discerning drinkers often associated cans with macro-breweries. But that misconception is quickly passing in a state where craft beers accompany us everywhere we go, from hikes in the Three Sisters Wilderness to biking the mean streets of Portland.
Last month, our tasters chose these favorite summer beers, all available in cans:
McMenamins Ruby, Statewide 4% ABV; 5 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A popular standard since 1986. Ruby is a light, crisp and refreshingly fruity ale made with Great Western Premium 2-Row, 42 pounds of Oregon-grown and processed raspberries, and a touch of Chinook hops in every colorful batch. Simple, but delicious.
Consumer Comments: Unusual flavor. I could drink this when I want something out of the ordinary. Fruity! Almost a fruit Belgian, but not sour. Nice fruity flavor. Rootin’ tooty. Fruity and yet citrusy too. Lambic? Belgian? Raspberry flavor!
Burnside Couch Select Lager, Portland 5% ABV; 14 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is a helles-style lager brewed with quality pilsner malt, German Tettnang hops and fermented with a Bohemian Lager yeast strain. Cold fermentation produces a nice, crispy snap to a beautiful hop flavor and subtle hop presence.
Consumer Comments: Good beer for sitting on the deck after work. Easy drinker. Good for all-day drinking. Fresh, slightly tangy, great balance. Refreshing! Crisp!
Silver Moon Get Sum Pale Ale, Bend 5.6% ABV; 45 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Redefine your love of pale ales. Get Sum has a light and clean golden body backed by a refreshing citrus hop flavor.
Consumer Comments: An IPA I could drink and drink and drink … Very good. Super. Tickles my nose and my tongue. This was my favorite. Hoppy, but easy to drink. Light and tasty.
Rogue Pendleton Pale Ale, Newport 5.2% ABV; 30 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A light, refreshing pale ale brewed with Delta and Rogue Farms Alluvial and Rebel hops grown on Rogue Farms in Oregon, Rogue Farms Risk, Sacchra 50 and Dextra Pils malts.
Consumer Comments: Great grilling beer. Nice long hoppy aftertaste. Beautiful amber color. Nice hop flavor for a thirst-quenching beer. I could wash down a few tacos and burritos with this beer.
Boneyard Skin N Bones ISA, Bend 4% ABV; 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This India session ale is a single-hop beer showcasing Mosaic hops. Brewed with pale and pilsner malts, it’s light-bodied and golden in color. Perfect to quench your summer thirst!
Consumer Comments: Good chilling beer. Great lawnmower beer. Good bite, hoppy and citrusy, my favorite so far! Good balance. Bike ride beer. A great, light IPA. Drink and run then drink again.
Laurelwood Mother Lode Golden Ale, Portland 5.1% ABV; 25 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: Our lightest ale is crisp, dry and refreshing, making it a great introduction to craft beer. This recipe has earned gold at the World Beer Cup as well as silver and bronze at the Great American Beer Festival.
Consumer Comments: Good after-dinner beer. Rich flavor. Oregon’s snappy answer to Bud: “Drink this, big beer.” This was the best. Beautiful beer.
Oregon City Brewing 8-Bit Blonde, Oregon City 4.8% ABV, 25 IBU
Brewer’s Description: Plug in your controllers and hit that power button - it's time to go up a level! This blonde ale sits atop a crisp pilsner malt backbone, and Sterling hops give it a grassy, herbal note that takes down that final boss in one fell swoop.
Consumer Comments: Good summer-break beer. Very good for the style. Tastes light, like a lager. Oh, yeah. All day long. Floral and euro herbs.
NEXT FREE TASTING: Oregon Beer Growler’s Reds and Ambers Tasting 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13 at F.H. Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th Ave., Portland
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.