After the better part of a year working on my bosses trying to convince them of the virtues of canned beer, it appears as though they've finally accepted the truth: canned beer is great!
Cans for beer have come a long way since the 70's and the 80's--those terrible decades when fashion was flammable, food was plastic, and canned beer tasted like, well, canned beer. As with most things besides music (that's right, I said it) technology and products improve with the passage of time. Looking to today, it's fair to say that beer can technology has improved to the point where we can confidently benefit from cans without compromising on taste or quality.
While conceding that canned beer is not as aesthetically pleasing as a nicely packaged bottle and that maybe you shouldn't bring it as a hostess gift to a dinner party with the in-laws (unless your in-laws are really into their beer) there isn't really a downside to a properly canned beer. Note that I said properly canned beer.
Any concerns about a metallic taste to the beer have been alleviated due innovative technology using polymers as a lining to prevent the beer from ever touching the aluminum can. Those citing environmental concerns will be happy to know that today's cans use about 30% less aluminum--likewise resulting in a lightweight can--than cans that were used in the past, all of which is largely recyclable.
With these concerns being widely relieved thanks to advancements in technology, the benefits of cans can now enjoy their time in the sun. The most important values of cans has to be the blockage of light and air. Complete blockage of light results in the removal of the light-struck "skunk" flavor. Cans are airtight which prevent oxygen from entering the package--something which bottled beer has never been able to 100% do--meaning that longer term storage is easier to do and off-flavors from oxygen or other nasties are not a problem.
Durability, portability, stackable storage, lighter packaging, easier and quicker chilling and protection of the product are even more reasons why canned beer has rightfully become so popular and why breweries are striving to include canning in their business plans.
Collecting vintage beer cans as a hobby, at least in the US, has a steady following. A quick search on Ebay and you can find everything from rare vintage ones to whole lots of cans (probably collections that somebody's wife told them they need to get out of the garage) for sale. Today's breweries are putting a lot of effort into the design on cans--Beavertown Brewery being the most impressive--that in years to come today's cans will surely be collector's items.
With all that said, you can see why I'm excited that we've finally embraced beer cans and are integrating them into our range. While I'd been an advocate for them for a long time, it's been a diligent study of a number of factors before we decided that canned beer had a home with us here at Beer Hawk. We'll let you know when we've got our stock of great canned beer in from some fantastic breweries--in the meantime, get thirsty!