Tuesday 8 February 2011

Can the directors

Given all this talk of cans, I thought I would try the canned version of one of the premium bottled ales I had enjoyed – Courage Directors. Many canned premium ales have a softer carbonation than the bottled version in an attempt to replicate a “draught experience”, which to my mind doesn’t really work and just tends to leave them seeming a bit flat, but this wasn’t the case here. It formed a tight, lasting head and there were obvious spires of bubbles rising in the body. The general experience was very similar to the bottles, a good robust English strong bitter, malty yet dry, and you would be hard pressed to tell the two apart.

However, you don’t really save much compared with the bottles. Morrisons have a long-running offer of four premium bottled ales, including Directors, selling at £1.75 each, for £5.50, whereas the four cans were £5.19. This is 54p a unit, so Don Shenker will be happy. Oddly, some of the four-packs of cans were actually dearer than four bottles. Abbot was £5.60 and Hobgoblin was over £6 – both beers included in the offer. It’s noteworthy just how many of the best-selling PBAs are now also available in cans, such as Pedigree, Tanglefoot, Old Speckled Hen, Bombardier and London Pride.

Another interesting piece of psychology is how people are quite happy to buy four-packs of cans (or even 15-packs) but when buying PBAs they will generally get a variety. And someone buying a single PBA is a moderate, discerning drinker, but someone buying a single can (which are only sold by corner shops, not supermarkets) gives the impression of being one or both of poverty-stricken and an alcoholic.


  1. And more cans to come, with Brewdog moving in that direction

  2. The minimal price difference points me to a number of thoughts:

    * Is the cost of canning very close to the cost of bottling?

    * Is a bottle or can seen in the same eyes from the point of view of the brewer?

    * Are they trying to protect (i.e. not devalue) their brand by selling cans cheaper?

  3. I had a can of St Austells tribute on the train, quite enjoyable, although you're right after a short time it seem a bit flat.

  4. Historically, this is perhaps my most cherished beer - and via the can is how I first discovered it, courtesy of my Dad's garage stash circa 1992.

    He kept it alongside cans of Guiness Draught Bitter and Flower's Bitter.

    My word, how I adored it! It is probably responsible - more than any other ale - for my love of finely made beer.

    I later discovered that the canned version is not even the best, and the rest is history.

  5. Cans fulfil a purpose and if someone is coming to stay who isn't very discerning about beer, I don't waste money trying to educate them; I just buy some cans of Cains Bitter from Asda. I find it acceptable in such situations.

  6. That's a lot better than people who buy Tesco Value Bitter for their guests :-(

  7. I've recently started to buy some canned beer again. More for practical reasons i suppose. I like the softer carbonation that some of them afford. Handy hint for northerners: wizz your canned beer up in an electric food mixer for that authentic 'ruined through a sparkler' condition.


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