Does its packaging affect the taste of beer?

Beer lovers often wonder whether their beer tastes better from a bottle or a can. While many argue that since can is opaque, it doesn’t let light and other such factors alter the flavor or taste, there are others who claim that the chemical and physical interactions with bottle packaging keeps the beer more pure and free from metal imparts.But what is really the best option to gulp our ‘coolant’ down? Well the answer is not as complicated as it seems, for sure. 


Let’s first look at the factors which impact can packaging. Made out of aluminum alloy, the cans weigh lesser as compared to glass. A case of 24 cans has 1.5 times the beer as in a case of bottles but weighs just about the same. Moreover, cans are easier to carry and give a more premium look; more over they do not break even if your car goes through a bumpy road. Also, since it is made of aluminum they do not allow any light to go through to the beer and spoil its flavor or taste. On top of this, cans chill much faster than bottles.

A few bottle lovers, however, do complain that cans impart a metallic flavor to the beer. While this may be true sometimes in case of beer packed in steel cans and with faulty lacquer coating, this is not normally the rule. Most of the beer packed nowadays is in aluminum cans which does not impart any flavor to the beer. The can clan also boasts of eco-friendliness that comes with the aluminum alloy material, which is easy to recycle. An aluminum can is also much easier to open than a bottle.

Prem Dewan, Managing Director, Devans Modern Breweries Ltd.


Now coming to the arguments in the favor of bottles. Glass is extremely inert and imparts no impurities or flavor to the beer and the taste remains completely unaltered. To counter the adverse effect of light which could catalyse hop oils oxidation thereby spoiling the beer flavor, beer is usually filled in amber bottles which do not allow the light to pass through to the beer. Amber glass blocks nearly 99% of the light wavelength which damages the brew. The best way though would be keep your beer in the carton or in the refrigerator thereby avoiding any exposure to light whatsoever. 

Some people who prefer bottles further argue that getting low dissolved oxygen levels is easier in the case of bottles. A vacuum is created inside the bottle just prior to filling and CO2 is pushed in to take its place thereby ensuring that there is no oxygen left in the bottle which could damage the beer. Ensuring this in a can is more difficult but modern technology ensures that this is not a cause for concern. 


Another section of people who when drinking in a bar prefer to go for draught beer in kegs. With very low oxygen and no impact of light, the draught beer keg is widely considered to contain the freshest beer. It was precisely owing to these attributes that DeVANS decided to focus aggressively on kegs and also offer a somewhat similar experience to people sitting at home with the launch of their 5-litre keg imported from Germany which is a technological wonder. 

Whether beer packed in cans, kegs or bottles really makes a difference, we need to cite here a two-part experiment carried out by Beverages, an international peer-reviewed open access journal. The main study of the experiment was the taste test, wherein in the first part of people knew whether they were being served beer from a can or a bottle and they were also given a chance to pick and examine the packaging. Even as less than half were offered beer from bottle, the results suggested that more than 60% of the participants preferred the brew in bottles.

In the second part of the experiment, blind tasting, all participants were made to taste two glasses of beer. Though they knew that one came from can and the other from bottle, they had no idea which was which. The result of the experiment, on the basis of questionnaire answered by each participant, indicated that there was no clear winner. The proportion of can vs beer was almost equally divided, thereby suggesting that no matter what the packaging is, the beer is perfect as long as it’s chilled! 

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