A Toast to the Humble Can: CANvitational Preview

Monday, September 08, 2014

Twelve years ago, I lived in Bucktown on Chicago’s northwest side, and one day I noticed a new bar had popped up along my commute on Damen Avenue with a simple name: Cans.

I thought to myself, “Why would anyone want to go to place that serves beer in cans?!?” Consequently, I never set foot in the place.

Though Cans was probably conceived as a trip down memory lane for fraternity brothers to put back a few of their favorites from the bottom shelf, more and more of today’s craft brewers are turning to cans to package their beer.

While the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered the first canned beer to its faithful following in 1935 (History Channel has the full story), it used to be that canned beer was only for the big boys of fermentation and synonymous with the cheap stuff. Certain canned beers are also popular with the hipster crowd.

But in 2002, Oskar Blues Brewery founder and owner Dale Katechis decided to package his craft beer in cans and launched a revolution.

SKB was pretty early to this revolution and in 2009 became the 53rd American Craft Brewery.  Today, there are more than 500 brewers who can. 

As my friend and SKB co-founder Clay Robinson is fond of saying, cans are a “superior vessel” for packaging craft beer. The reasons are plentiful. You can take it more places, it chills faster, and it blocks out beer’s two enemies: light and air, which in turn, maintains freshness and enhances quality.

On top of that, it’s a greener product as aluminum is infinitely recyclable and weighs less than glass. Since it lighter, less energy is necessary to get the product from the brewery to your local retailer. Another bonus for the can is more room for art and storytelling. Last and certainly not least, technological enhancements in the can liners have eliminated concerns of metallic taste.

The point of all this is the humble can deserves a celebration and some love. So what better way to honor craft canned beer than by inviting a bunch of great breweries that can to Indianapolis for the Second Annual Sun King CANvitational!

The CANvitational is the biggest celebration of canned beer this side of the Mississippi and throws down an exclamation point on Indiana’s growing list of breweries – currently at 92. While we’re bragging, slotted Indiana at 18th in a recent ranking of each state by its beer.

Need more reasons to join us on Georgia Street and Pan Am Plaza on September 20 for the CANvitational? How about the chance to sample the newest CANlaboration between SKB and Solemn Oath Brewery in Naperville, Ill. Solemn Oath and Sun King will produce 30 Minute Coma, a Belgian Session IPA (yes, yes and yes). And just like last year’s scrumptious Royal Brat CANlaboration by SKB and Three Floyds, this is a brew that’ll only come around once – miss out at your own risk!

With 40+ breweries from around the country and two from the UK, you’ll also get the opportunity to taste a ton of beers that you simply can’t find in Central Indiana or even the Midwest.

And just like the famous month of May in Indianapolis, Septembers in Indy usually feature excellent weather. Let’s hope for a picturesque day downtown just like last year.

My advice: Don’t miss this unique celebration and make a weekend out of it. If you’re not from the area (or even if you are), check out some of Indy’s downtown restaurants, ride the Pacers Bikeshare around the highly acclaimed Indianapolis Cultural Trail and stay at one of Indy’s downtown hotels.

There’s still time to get your tickets for the CANvitational at a discount of $10 before the day of the event (if they last, that is).

One more thing, tell us which brewery from this list that you are most excited to taste and why in the comments section and we’ll select one commenter to win two tickets to the big event.

Ryan Puckett is principal of two21 LLC, a communication firm focused on sustainability. Sometimes people confuse him for the bartender at The Libertine. Contact Ryan at or on Twitter @rmpuckett.  

Troy Ballou commented on 10-Sep-2014 11:23 AM
Excited to taste the beer from Maui Brewing. I have never tried their beer and I probably will never go to Maui.
Marc Roden commented on 10-Sep-2014 11:59 AM
Very interested in Beavertown Brewing, as getting the opportunity to talk and sample with a location from another continent is not a common thing.
Tiffany commented on 10-Sep-2014 12:05 PM
I'm excited to try Bells because I love everything I've tried of theirs so far!! :-)
Craig Kelker commented on 10-Sep-2014 12:18 PM
There are so many new breweries! I think they should put a "first year" next to each logo.

I'm hoping to go to try Great Crescent Brewery again. They were my sleeper of last year's event.
Anne commented on 10-Sep-2014 12:26 PM
Moved downtown but haven't been to sun king yet, so that's which one I'm most excited to try.
Taylor N commented on 10-Sep-2014 02:19 PM
Looking forward to trying SanTan Brewing Co - I have heard a lot of good things about it and am interested to see what the Southwest has to offer in craft beer.
Jake commented on 10-Sep-2014 04:00 PM
I would love to goto this!!
Nikki Venne commented on 10-Sep-2014 04:20 PM
Cheers to Sun King & 3 Floyd's & all the wonderful craft breweries for getting Indy recognized!
Donna Baker commented on 10-Sep-2014 05:04 PM
30 Minute Coma? Does that sound more tempting then ever? :-0
Andrew commented on 10-Sep-2014 06:08 PM
Glad to see cans getting the recognition they deserve.
Elizabeth commented on 12-Sep-2014 10:33 AM
The fact that this event only does canning breweries makes it stand out from the other festivals this time of year. You finally get to try some.different stuff!
Lily commented on 12-Sep-2014 11:33 AM
I CAN't wait! I've been recruiting everyone I know to go on Saturday. Such a great Indy event! I'm looking forward to a True Blonde Ale from SKA.
Eric commented on 14-Sep-2014 09:41 PM
I am looking forward to trying Brewery Vivant because of their focus on Belgian brewing.
Toni commented on 15-Sep-2014 10:39 AM
Although my husband and I have tried several of the breweries listed, there are so many more that I am stoked about tasting! Country Boy's Cliff Jumper IPA and JalapeƱo Smoked Porter are two of our favorite beers. Piney River in Missouri caught my attention with their unique background story. SanTan in Arizona also looks promising - I love the notion of pairing these wonderfully crafted beers with a delicious meal. Perhaps the brewery I'm most excited about this year is Beavertown Brewery in London. I'm anxious to sample some lovely craft beer from across the pond!!
Marisol M. commented on 15-Sep-2014 12:50 PM
Vander Mill Ciders- I'm excited to see something different.
Will Fogleson commented on 15-Sep-2014 01:40 PM
I'm interested to see what the guys at SanTan Brewing Company bring to the table. Haven't had beers from my old Arizona haunt yet.
Kallie commented on 15-Sep-2014 03:44 PM
I agree. The can is the superior Vessel for sure. I do like beer on draft, but otherwise, I am an all can lady. Nice article.
Linda commented on 15-Sep-2014 04:08 PM
Camden Town Brewing. Because London calls.
Ryan Puckett commented on 15-Sep-2014 04:56 PM
I always look forward to tasting Brewery Vivant from Michigan. They don't distribute in central Indiana and so the only time I get to taste their canned, Belgian-inspired goodness when I'm on vacation in "the mitten".
Sara Therese commented on 15-Sep-2014 09:23 PM
Sounds like a Hoedown! Or maybe a Hootenanny! Or just an all around good idea.
Mike H commented on 15-Sep-2014 11:45 PM
Most excited for 4 Hands. It looks like they have some crazy stuff going on.
Ryan Puckett commented on 17-Sep-2014 05:10 PM
Thanks for all of the great comments, the winner of the two tickets is Toni McClara. Congrats, Toni! We hope to see all of you at the CANvitational this Saturday. As of now, the weather forecast is near-perfect. You can save $10 off each ticket if you buy before midnite, September 19.

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