The Boston Beer Co. has spent two years doing sensory research that will culminate in the launch of the “Sam Can” in summer 2013, featuring Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
No pictures were available yet of the can, which “aims to provide a drinking experience that is closer to the taste and comfort of drinking beer from a glass,” according to the Boston-based brewing company.
"The debate over bottles vs. cans has been a sticking point for brewers in the craft beer community for years," says Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams, in a release. "In the past, I had my doubts about putting Sam Adams in a can because I wasn't convinced that Boston Lager would taste as good as it does from a bottle. But cans have changed. And I believe we've designed a can that provides a slight but noticeably better drinking experience than the standard beer can."
Koch and the other brewers at Samuel Adams first worked with can manufacturer Ball Corp. to understand can design, technology, and how to package premium beer in cans. The brewers then worked with a design team at IDEO, a recognized global design firm, and finally enlisted the help of sensory expert Roy Desrochers of GEI Consultants.
Desrochers, a recognized beer flavor expert for the Master Brewer's Association of the Americas (MBAA), has provided counsel to the brewing industry for almost three decades. With Desrochers' help, Sam Adams studied every aspect of the new can, from how it could potentially impact the flavor of Samuel Adams' flagship Boston Lager to the ergonomics of how the beer flows from the can and hits the taste receptors on a drinker's tongue.
"The flared lip and wider top of the new Sam Can work in concert to deliver the beer in a way that makes the flavor closer to drinking out of a glass,” Desrochers says. “Although subtle, this can delivers a more pronounced, more balanced flavor experience -- something that was very important to the brewers. The extended lip of the can also creates a smoother, more comfortable overall drinking experience."
The difference in drinking out of the new can as compared to a standard can will be modest, but drinkers should notice enhanced flavors and a more comfortable experience. The position of the can opening and wider lid naturally opens up the mouth, allowing for more air flow, and positions the drinker's nose closer to the hop aromas of the beer.
The new Sam Can required a million-dollar investment in special equipment tooling along with time, research and testing, Koch says. This new can will also cost more than the standard can to produce.
“It may seem a little crazy to make that kind of investment, but we felt the slight improvement in the drinking experience was worth the expense,” he says.
Among the advantages of cans is that drinkers prefer cans in certain circumstances where bottles are often not allowed or convenient, such as beaches, parks, pools, sporting events, boats and airplanes.