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It’s no secret that we love canned beer. While PBR, Narragansett and Schlitz might still be cheap and better alternatives to most mass-produced lagers, the craft can industry has really taken off this year. The last year brought about cannovations like the Sly Fox Brewing Company’s 360 removable lid and nitro craft tallboy cans of Oskar Blues' Old Chubb. The influx of canned craft beer has been noticeable in stores, but now there's a number to back it up: according to beer author Russ Phillips in a recent interview with NPR, more than 500 craft breweries in the U.S. can their beer!

That number accounts for roughly 20% of the 2,500+ craft breweries in the United States. Phillips also mentions that the industry boom took place in remarkable fashion, from just a few dozen to 500 in just two years, thanks in large part to the ease of packaging with mobile canneries and a lower cost than bottles.

Several breweries like craft canning pioneers Oskar Blues in Colorado and Sixpoint in Brooklyn have exclusively canned their beer from the start, using their canned packaging as a trademark. For those of you who might be thinking well, canned beer isn’t as flavorful as bottled beer, just try Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout, Surly’s Coffee Bender brown ale or The Alchemist’s Heady Topper Double-IPA – these brews are miles ahead of the cans of yore besides being some of the best brews ever made.

Cans have some pretty big advantages: they stay fresher longer, get colder faster, are more durable and are better for the environment than bottles. Things really hit a plateau in 2013 when Boston Beer Company founder Jim Koch, who swore to never can Sam Adams beer, did a 180. For Boston Beer Company, by far the biggest craft brewery in the U.S., to acknowledge the benefits of craft canning really cements the idea that the can is not just cool and useful but also profitable.  Here’s to more great craft cans in 2014!

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