Really, Excellent Canned Beer

The phrase canned beer likely evokes high-school memories of Milwaukee's Best, but the scorned packaging—which chills faster than a bottle and blocks light—is awesome, and now the brew inside can be sublime too. It's time to savor the sound of a popping tab.

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Photographs, from top: By craig cutler; Istock photo

The phrase canned beer likely evokes high-school memories of Milwaukee's Best, but the scorned packaging—which chills faster than a bottle and blocks light—is awesome, and now the brew inside can be sublime too. It's time to savor the sound of a popping tab. Rob Willey

THE RECOMMENDATION

1. Steamworks Steam Engine Lager

Origin: Durango, Colorado

Yes, it tastes similar to Sam Adams, but it's preferable by a long shot, with a sweetness and a peppery tang. (steamworksbrewing.com; $10 for six)

2. Caldera Ashland Amber

Origin: Ashland, Oregon

Crisp on the way down, This ale has a citrusy punch—courtesy of uncut hops—that improves a Tuesday night. (calderabrewing.com; $11 for six)

3. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout

Origin: Lyons, Colorado

The consistency and color of engine oil, this stout has just enough bitterness to make it feel like a drink, not a meal. (oskarblues.com; $13 for four)

4. 21st Amendment Brew Free! or Die IPA

Origin: San Francisco

Six different hops go into this bracing ale, yet bitterness is not an issue. (21st-amendment.com; $11 for six)

5. Sly Fox Pikeland Pils

Origin: Royersford, Pennsylvania

This isn't your average ballpark pilsner. Malt and hops give it a subtle heft that most pale brews lack.

(slyfoxbeer.com; $10 for six)

6. Butternuts Heinnieweisse Weissebier

Origin: Garrattsville, New York

This yeasty hefeweizen isn't so different from its German relatives—except that it's fresh when you get it. (butternutsbeerandale.com; $10 for six)

7. New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale

Origin: Fort Collins, Colorado

The tough-to-find canned version of this fruity, biscuity twist on red ale is worth the effort it takes to track it down. (newbelgium.com; $9 for six)

WHERE TO EXPAND YOUR DRINKING OPTIONS

When you're in the mood to try a new brew, look no further than these hops spots.

1. Chicago, Hopleaf Bar

Yes, Belgian brews get tons of play at this mellow North Side tavern, but the menu also includes French farmhouse beer, Italian chestnut ale, and Polish mead. (5148 N. Clark St., 773-334-9851; hopleaf.com)

2. Washington, D.C., Granville Moore's

Head to this out-of-the-way gastropub for almost 80 Belgian options. Top 'em off with the impeccable frites. (1238 H St. NE, 202-399-2546; granvillemoores.com)

3. Brooklyn, Beer Table

The select menu at this spartan beer cellar changes almost daily, and it always includes at least one choice you never knew existed—like a German Leipziger Gos. (427B Seventh Ave., 718-965-1196; beertable.com)

THE WIDE-MOUTH CAN

In beer-can physics, flights of imagination inevitably collide with hard-particle reality: No matter how wonderful near-frozen Budweiser feels when it hits your lips, that shit comes out only so fast. Thank goodness, then, for wide-mouth cans. Coors rolled out this feat of engineering over a decade ago, but it's more vital now than ever: When the stuffy guy on the next barstool swirls his stout, you can drown him out with a thundering cascade of ice-cold refreshment.

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Photographs, from top: By craig cutler; Istock photo

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