The humble beer can celebrates its 80th year in 2015.

On the Coast's beer columnist Rebecca Whyman says beer cans have experienced a lot of up and downs over the past few decades.

Macro breweries, which produce a lot of canned beer, have seen a decline in their share of the market. But microbreweries are increasingly embracing cans, despite the product being seen as less classy.

"Definitely there's a bit of snobbery around cans vs bottles," said Whyman. "But really, once you pour it out of a can or a bottle, you won't be able to tell which one it came in."

Some people complain that cans leave a tinny taste to their beer, but Whyman says it's not as much of a problem as it used to be. Cans are now coated with a water-based epoxy barrier that separates the beer from the can.

Whether you're drinking from a can or a bottle, Whyman says it's best to pour your beer into a glass.

"There's a lot of the beer you miss if you drink it right out of the container," said Whyman.

Pouring beer into a glass shows its colour and releases additional carbon dioxide, which makes drinking it easier on your stomach.

But most importantly, it helps release the beer's aroma.

"Drinking from a glass, because it's wider, your nose gets in there as well," said Whyman. "And that's where half of our taste comes from."

Otherwise, Whyman says cans have a lot of advantages over bottles — for drinkers and brewers alike.

These include:
  • they can be chilled faster than bottles
  • they're safer than bottles for poolside and other water-based activities
  • they're airtight, so stay fresh longer
  • they protect beer from light, which helps prevent "skunky" beer smell
  • they're lighter, which makes them easier on the environment when shipping
  • they're more compact, which also makes them easier to ship
  • they have more room to display art and graphics from the brewery
To listen to the full interview, including three recommendations for canned beer, click on the audio labelled: 80 years of beer cans