If you frequent L.A.'s better beer hangouts – The Yard, West Fourth and Jane, and The Surly Goat among them – you've probably had, or seen, a can or two of Dale's Pale Ale, America's “first hand-canned beer” (the brewery's words, not ours) from Oskar Blues in Colorado. But when you're at a bar with a wall full of interesting beers on tap within a few feet of your pint glass, ordering a canned beer feels like a waste of prime Happy Hour stomach space (though canned beer advocates will tell you cans block sunlight and therefore keep beer fresher than bottles, plus they're lighter and cost fewer environmental dollars to ship, but that's another discussion entirely).
And so we could hardly believe our luck when we spied a 6-pack of Dale's next to the Bud Light at our neighborhood dive liquor store, a new addition according to the owner.
Dale's cans had already infiltrated the glass bottle ranks of upscale grocery stores (Whole Foods) and local wine shops known for hosting the good suds, including Wally's, Silverlake Wine, Vin de Pays. But at swanky retail shops, you're faced with the same bar logic. When you're looking at a fridge full of Trappist ales, buying canned beer just feels sacrilegious.
Not so at 7-Eleven, where that theory of relativity swings heavily into Dale's favor. Do you go with a Schlitz, or a full-flavored beer with an assertive 6.5% ABV, a hearty hops flavor and a distinct malty twang (a rarity in canned pale ales, as the goal of so many seems to be flavor-free)? Easy decision. Granted, Dale's costs twice what you'd pay for cheap, light canned beer and even more than many bottled beers (we paid about $10 for a 6-pack). But there are certain moments in life – a bottle-banned parking lot tailgate, a beef jerky binge – that call for canned beer. Preferably, one you really want to drink.