Celebrating 76 Years of a Disposable Culture and Lousy Beer

old beer cans

Image credit weburbanist
Wired notes that January 24 is the anniversary of the sale of the first can of beer, in 1935. Wired claims that "Compared to glass, the cans were lightweight, cheap, and easy to stack and ship. Unlike bottles, you didn't have to pay a deposit and then return the cans for a refund." So it was hugely popular and now only 3% of Americans drink beer from refillable bottles.

refillable bottles usa

Wired also writes that "Beyond their economy and convenience, cans are actually better for beer than glass bottles." Pablo made the same claim in his post Ask Pablo: Is Canned Beer More Sustainable?:

Garrett Marrero, Founder and Owner of the Maui Brewing Company, told me that beer has three enemies; oxidation, light, and heat. While aluminum cans can't protect beer from heat a can provides superior protection from oxygen and light when compared to bottles.

So why, in just about every other country in the entire world, do people drink their beer primarily out of bottles? As I noted last year in Happy Birthday Canned Beer: 75 Years of Waste and Lousy Beer

Nobody a mile north or south of the American border touches the stuff in cans, it just doesn't taste as good. But the American taste for beer was changed by Prohibition; Live Science writes:

Ironically, it was the Prohibition that ultimately shaped the American population's taste for beer. The stronger beer that was the norm before Prohibition gave way to much weaker varieties afterwards, as people had become accustomed to bootlegged brews, which were always watered down for maximum profit.

So America has a beer production and distribution system based around shipping thin beer huge distances from monster breweries and leaving it on the shelves forever and then throwing the containers away. This is nothing to celebrate.

More on Canned Beer and the Greener Alternative, the Returnable Bottle
Happy Birthday Canned Beer: 75 Years of Waste and Lousy Beer
It's Time for Deposits. On Everything.
Recycling is Bullshit
Refillable Bottles for Better Tasting Milk and Beer
Calling a New Six-Pack Ring "More Sustainable" Is Delusional
a Zero Waste Society

Follow me on Twitter! @lloydalter and friend me on Facebook

Related Content on Treehugger.com