You can buy beer in different packaging: bottle, can, steel keg, plastic keg, cask and there are even beers for sale in a bag. In itself it doesn't matter what beer is packaged in, as long as the taste is what it should be. And that is precisely where opinions are divided. What tastes best now? Bottled beer? Canned beer? Draft beer?
In addition to taste, there are other considerations for choosing a certain packaging material. The appearance of beer is important: that is why we make our own label for each beer. And sustainability is also a reason to opt for a specific packaging these days. As if as a brewer you don't already have enough to choose from.
Traditionally, beer in the pub is served from the barrel. And in the old days that was really from a wooden barrel behind the bar. Now you see that sometimes, but that is during a special event. The barrels of today are made of steel or plastic and are tapped with carbon dioxide pressure. There are also cafes that tap from the cask, in the traditional English way without carbon dioxide: with a hand pump.
Many beer drinkers have grown up with draft beer. In the past (very long ago) beer was not yet available in the supermarket, let alone that there was something to drink other than lager. So you drank draft beer when you went to a pub. And most people firmly believe that draft beer tastes better than bottled beer. That is a good starting point for a tasting. See if you can taste between cask and bottle or can (or all three) at a café. Do blind tasting, so you are not influenced. What tastes better?
Beer has been for sale in bottles for years. Different colored bottles, even. So you drink bottled beer at home. Sometimes poured into a glass, sometimes straight from the neck. Bottle has a number of drawbacks. The first is drinking from the bottle. This ensures that a lot of carbon dioxide enters your stomach. So if you burp on beer, it's because of that. It is better to pour the beer into a glass. That reduces the amount of carbon dioxide that enters your stomach.
The second disadvantage of glass is that it allows light to pass through, which affects the taste of the beer. And not in a nice way. The more translucent the glass, the more it affects the taste. The Americans call it skunky, apparently a skunk smells like that… The Dutch often recognize the smell of weed. You may like it, but it's not a smell that belongs in beer.
Brown bottles protect the beer the best against light, blue and green bottles slightly less, and 'white' bottles the worst. That's why modified hops are also added to beers in transparent bottles so that you don't get that weed smell.
Cans don't let light through, so you won't find any skunky beers in them. That is why cans are increasingly favored by brewers for packaging their beers. In the beginning, beer drinkers were hesitant to buy canned beer. They thought the beer would have a metallic taste, but the technology is so far that that doesn't happen anymore. In terms of appearance, there are still beer enthusiasts who associate cans with cheap half liters of lager from the bottom shelf, but they are increasingly in the minority. The design of the labels of the current brewers also indicates that it is quality beer.
Here, too, people sometimes drink straight from the can. What applies to the bottle also applies here, of course. Pouring the beer into a glass is better for your stomach. In addition, you can smell the beer much better when you pour it out, and that is really an added value for all hoppy beers.
In terms of sustainability, the choice is less easy. Deposit bottles and metal kegs are durable, but all those bottles and kegs must be transported and cleaned. Disposable bottles are only recycled for 70% in the Netherlands. For a small brewery, cans are therefore the most sustainable choice. A lot more boxes fit on a pallet, the product cools faster in the fridge and whatever waste stream they end up in, they are easy to remove and are completely recyclable. That is why vandeStreek packs beer in cans as much as possible.