There was a time when a beer aficionado would make themselves known by their reaction to a brew presented in a can, as an upturned nose and an “I’ll pass” often followed. It’s a debate that’s raged since beer snobbery began, with some arguing that cans are the sign of a taste-deficient, mass-produced brew, while others say that cans are just as good — perhaps, even better — than bottled varieties. Now San Francisco-based Anchor Brewing is coming down firmly in the, uh, middle of the debate, with an announcement that their long-bottled flagship beer, Anchor Steam, will now be sold in a 12-ounce can.
The company, which since 2017 has been owned by beer giant Sapporo, has sold Anchor Steam in bottles since its launch in 1896, and the version drinkers consume today has been bottled since 1971. The company has been quietly easing into the can game since 2018, when it started selling Anchor Steam in tallboy (that’s 19.2 ounces) cans. But never before has it gone the 12-ounce can route perhaps most closely associated with wide-distribution brands like Coors, Miller, and Tecate.
According to Anchor brewmaster Scott Ungermann, Anchor made a decision to release the brew in 12-ounce cans because “when the weather starts to warm up everybody heads to the park or their favorite hiking trail where glass is strictly prohibited,” and now fans of the beer will “have more reasons to take Anchor Steam with them to the parks.”
It’s worth noting here that it’s not quite that simple: San Francisco law bans the consumption of alcohol within 100 feet of playgrounds at city parks including Golden Gate Park, while booze is completely banned on National Park Service lands like Ocean Beach. Enforcement of those regulations is spotty, to say the least, but it’s something that should be considered.
The 12-ounce cans of Anchor Steam are now available, Anchor Steam says, in 6-packs across the country. Those who prefer to drink out of glass will perhaps be comforted to know that for now, at least, the company will also continue to sell the beer in good old 12-ounce bottles, just as it has for the last 123 years.