What’s that you say? War sucks? True enough, and I bet the folks at Santa Fe Brewing Company would agree. If war is reckless and irresponsible, at least we know a little light imbibing needn’t be—and SFBC’s recently released canned beers ain’t a bad way to go about it.
Santa Fe’s beloved beer brand is offering a Freestyle Pilsner and a Happy Camper IPA in swankily designed 12-ounce bombs filled with 5.5 percent alcohol and some other stuff, too. The movement among small brewers and craft breweries toward the simple can—the signifier of low-brow beer belchers for as long as anyone can remember—at first confused many. How will people know you’re a beer snob if they catch you canoodling with a can?
But the modest aluminum packaging protects brews from exposure to ultraviolet light and oxygen far better than the most opaque and well-sealed bottle. The result is beer that retains freshness and flavor for longer internments on the shelf (or in your post-apocalyptic hidey-hole—no one wants to smugly emerge from a fallout shelter and crack a cached beer only to find it stale and bland). Canned beer also packs and ships better than bottles, which is an advantage for both the brewery and the customer. The brewery gets more efficient distribution and the dedicated car camper or garage-fridge enthusiast gets the modular alcohol of his or her dreams.
The Happy Camper, however, is aimed at campers of all stripes. The can is imprinted with some sassy marketing jargon about wiping your ass with a pinecone and a hoppy beer that goes great with “campfires, bears, granola, and mosquito repellent.” My two issues: I have a deep personal hatred of IPAs, which I find too fruity and too hoppy—it’s a great beer for smokers or other people who have somehow mangled their tastebuds. But more to the point, why market a beer for camping and neglect to put a simple “pack it in, pack it out” note on the can. On parts of our theoretically pristine wilderness, discarded beer cans are more common than marmots. Most Colorado craft brewers put such a message on their cans; it’s at least worth the effort.
Beyond that, the new cans’ design is excellent. There’s even an “X” marking the best spot to puncture the beer in case you suddenly need to shotgun 12 ounces of grainy goodness. The goodness, by the way, comes in the form of the Freestyle Pilsner. It’s got a simmering, spry flavor that spreads over the mouth like an orgiastic beer fuzz, and just enough hops to punch it up.
In the meantime, remember to recycle: The war effort may just need that aluminum!
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