I feel an experiment, brewing (brewing, get it?)
The beers I mentioned earlier are all canned only brews—no bottling from those guys—so as great as they are, they're off the table. What I need is four separate breweries that both bottle and can their beer—a domestic ale maker, an overseas ale producer, a domestic lager producer and and an import lager brewery—a beery tale told in four parts, if you will. Each beery scenario produces a variety of possible or shall I say, road bumps to each producer—time, temperature fluctuations and light exposure, so I' should be able to cover all the bases.
For part one, let's start with the American made ale—and thanks to Sierra Nevada adding cans to their packaging capabilities, the choice was easy—Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. As a side note, I do have to say I think it's notable that SN has gotten into the can biz. They are by far the largest craft brewery to do so as of yet, so all of those naysayers who have written off the can to this point, watch-out, because the canned die has been cast.
The test is simple. Drink the bottled version, then drink the canned version, and compare the two. In order to keep things on the up-and-up, both beers were poured into and drank from the same pint glass, after a quick wash between samplings. This wasn't going to be your generic tasting, either—no deep examinations of flavor profiles or body or any of those other pretentious things we beer geeks like to do. For this exercise I didn't care what the beer tasted like, just if there was a difference between the two.
Obviously both beers looked exactly the same—bright, golden-copper with a thin, yet creamy, head. Both were crisp and cold with a pronounced American hoppiness and a powerful but not overpowering bitterness. By all accounts I was drinking the same beer—but I wasn't. Even with all those factors being the same, something was off. I knew exactly what it was when I popped the tab on the canned version—the aroma. The canned version somehow lacked the smelly oomph of the bottle. Even after pouring it into the pint glass, it still lacked that pungent wallop in the sniffer. The canned SN seemed subtler and more mellow than the bottled version. Was the canned version more subdued because I didn't get that hoppy smell? Does the head space in the bottle help to somehow capture the hoppy aroma? I don't know, but I do know the canned version was missing it—for sure.
So, for those of you keeping score, I'm going with yes there is a noticeable difference between Sierra Nevada Pale Ale canned and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale bottled. I'm not going to draw any conclusions at this point—the whole point of this is to see how a variety of beer perform against each other, So, for now I'll just keep it as a yes and we'll see how everything goes in a few weeks. Next go round we'll see how an imported ale fares, under the same circumstances.