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Getting canned Why beer tastes better, sells better in cans

Daniel DeAlmeida, the general manager of Left Bank Burger Bar in Jersey City, said customers are going for canned beer.-(PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

When Daniel DeAlmeida opened the Left Bank Burger Bar, a neighborhood beer, bourbon and gourmet burger joint in Jersey City last October, he had a simple vision for success: great food and domestic beer.
Served in cans. That’s right, cans.

Distributors, he said, initially scoffed at his idea for an “American-strong” bar that served only canned beer, but DeAlmeida knew better. And he appears to be ahead of the curve.

“Cans are making a comeback,” he explained while arranging his stock to showcase bold and unique logos printed on his 13 varieties.

By serving popular brands such as Blue Moon, Brooklyn Lager and Sierra Nevada alongside lesser-known, exclusively canned brews such as Oskar Blues and 21st Amendment, DeAlmeida’s gamble is paying off.

He said he didn’t do it for a better profit margin — though selling canned beer is more lucrative than bottles — but instead for the customer experience. He said cans produce a better tasting brew that his customers would recognize after only a few sips.

He is definitely on to something.

The sale of canned beer is on the rise. According to the 2012 Brewer’s Almanac, cans accounted for 53.2 percent of the beer market share, while bottles held only 36.5 percent.

Taste is a major reason: Cans offer an airtight seal devoid of oxygen and complete protection against UV light, both of which affect the taste and quality of bottled beer.

There are the financial benefits, too. Retailers not only save on shipping and recycling costs of lighter aluminum, but they are able to stack more products in their coolers. And there’s no chance for breakage.

And while the surge in popularity of “hipster” beers such as Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life created successful “throwback” campaigns to boost sales and even prices, DeAlmeida said the trend is being spurred by what many might think is an unlikely source: Craft beers.

“Customers now have the mindset that they will only drink PBR from a can, but when I introduce them to our canned craft beers, they always order one — and more often than not, will try another,” he said.

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