Monday, 6 August 2007

Canadian sales of canned beer still bubbling

sales of canned beer are up 10 per cent over last year, and a whopping 27 per cent in Ontario alone,

Which is all the story is about really except this bit of "I didn't know that" info.
Today's cans are made with a thin plastic lining to protect the taste of the beer, challenging the notion that canned beer tastes tinny.

But there is no mention of widgets. And it is the widget that drives my beer can purchases. I like Guinness, but bottled Guinness is nothing at like real draft Guinness. What the brilliant boys on the Liffey noticed is that people do not like the bloated feeling that CO2 gives you. And its antisocial consequences. Most brewers kill their beer - filtering out the yeast and stopping fermentation. They then pack the beer - in kegs, cans or bottles - and in the case of the latter two inject it with a blast of gas. In a bar the keg is connected to a gas bottle which blows the beer up to the counter top and out of the tap.

Either way you get fizzy beer. And my search for real ale in Canada has so far proved fruitless. Many microbreweries but all using the same technology.

Guinness uses nitrogen rather than CO2. Nitrogen is the largest component of the air we breathe. It does not make the beer fizzy, but does produce that lovely creamy head. Drinking real draft Guinness is very similar to a properly made cappuccino - and, sadly, about as rare in Canada. But you can buy real draft Guinness in a can with a widget. The widget releases a stream of nitrogen when the can is opened. It de-skills the task of pouring, which seems to be beyond the competence of most bar persons, and consumers in general.

Guinness have now produced what is sold as "draft beer in bottles" (an oxymoron if ever I heard one). But I cannot for the life of me understand why. You get less beer per serving for one thing. And bottles are heavy. Taking back the empties is virtually weightless when you buy beer in cans.

There is also a widget in cans of Boddingtons for those who like that sort of thing. As one of my sisters-in-law once said to me "If I can see through it, I don't want to drink it."

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