The long-standing knock on canned beer — namely, the axiom that it's cheap, tinny and watery — is going the way of the buggy whip, a new analysis shows. As more craft brewers and microbreweries begin entrusting their golden suds to aluminum cans, canned beer is becoming downright respectable. Canned beers are going upscale.

The rehabilitation of canned beer's tarnished image began in 2002 when American microbrewery Oskar Blues began canning its beer in an old barn in Lyons, Colo., with a hand-canning line and a tabletop sealer that sealed one can at a time, according to SaveOnBrew, a website that tracks beer prices across America.

Now there are more than 150 craft brewers packaging their beer in cans, from Leinenkugel and Shiner Bock to Samuel Adams and Brooklyn Lager.

Craft brewers release their beers in cans for a multitude of reasons. Some brewers see it as a smart way to cut costs so they are able to spend money in other areas, like staffing or production, while others believe canning is more eco-friendly. But the most important reason is taste. Cans effectively block out all light and oxygen that can contaminate a beer and give it a "skunky" taste and innovative can coatings prevent the beer from taking on the metallic flavor of the can.

"Today's canned beer is not grandpa's canned beer," said SaveOnBrew's Mark Davidson. "Beer snobbery aside, cans are just better for certain types of events. Most beaches do not allow glass bottles, so you need to bring cans. You can fit more beer in the cooler for a tailgate party. Canned beers chill quicker than bottles. So they’re the ideal choice for a house party. You don’t have to hunt for a bottle opener at a stranger’s house. Really, I think the war against canned beer is nothing more than a social prejudice."

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