“We want to change the way people buy craft beer in L.A. County,” Golden Road Brewing's president and co-founder Meg Gill told us upon release of the brewery's canned beer earlier this year. As it turns out, they may not have too much trouble convincing people to make that change: According to the U.S. Beer Institute, canned beer amounted to a little more than half — 53% — of the beer consumed in 2011, with bottles and draft together accounting for the remaining 47%.
Canned beer, in fact, has steadily become popular over the last few years, which Bloomberg attributes to the fact that these drinks are affordable, recession-friendly luxuries. Moreover, the quality of canned beer is greatly improving: Golden Road is but one of many craft breweries choosing aluminum in addition to glass. Canned beers have even made their way onto craft beer flights; Sunset Brewing Company, for example, recently offered such a flight featuring Oskar Blues and Golden Road, among others, to show “some canned beers don't suck.”
Bloomberg cites a third factor driving the preference for canned beer: Hipsters. Defined as “a subculture of urban, young adults whose tastes run toward independent music and films and nontraditional fashion”), Bloomberg notes that hipsters “may have given the trend another push when Pabst Blue Ribbon … became one of their signature drinks.”
Other interesting, Harper's Index-like facts courtesy the U.S. Beer Institute: While our preference for canned beer has increased, our total consumption of beer has decreased over the last five years. And Americans each had 162 pints of beer in 2011.
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