Canning vs Bottling Beer

Canning vs Bottling Beer

Canning vs bottling beer; it’s the ultimate battle! Determining whether to can or bottle beer can be a difficult challenge, Each canning and bottling both have their own pros and cons when it comes to distribution, production, portability, aging and more. With the number of breweries that are on OrchestratedBeer, it’s easy to see a pattern of common questions and options that breweries need to consider. Of course there are pro’s and con’s to both canning and bottling, but there are a few important factors that can help you make the correct decision for your brewery.


So, you want to start canning or bottling. Of course the first thought you will have is the cost of production.

For any brewery, space can be a deciding factor when making big purchases. The first question you should ask is, “Do we have room for a canning or bottling line?” If the answer is no, that doesn’t mean you can’t can your beer. Thanks to a surge of mobile canning lines, breweries that don’t have space are now able can their beer for distribution.

Canning can initially be cheaper, thanks to the help of those mobile canning lines. They will come to you and save you the upfront cost of purchasing the equipment. Long term however, you will end up paying more for an outside company to help package your beer.

Bottling easily has its advantages though. Labels on bottles are much easier to change than beer cans. While options for canning labels are constantly being added, from shrink sleeves to sticker labels, these options are newer trend compared to the pre-printed cans, which require a large upfront purchase. So, bottles are still winning in the labeling department.

Winner : Toss-up. It depends on the money and space you have.


There are multiple things to consider when you hear the term portable. It can range from shipping, both getting your materials to you and distribution, as well as how portable is your beer to a customer.

First, lets talk shipping costs. Hands down, canning wins in this department. Cans are significantly lighter to ship, and can be packed into a more confined space.

Let’s talk portability when coming from a consumer standpoint, cans are the hands down winner in this situation. Cans are lighter, easier to pack, don’t risk breaking and they don’t require a bottle opener.

Winner : Cans

Aging Beer

When aging a beer, bottles just seem like the go to. This could be the fact that right now there isn’t a lot of data about aging a canned beer. In addition to a lack of data, there is another place where bottled beer makes the play for the top spot. If the beer does any secondary fermentation, most would say the bottle is the only choice. During a second fermentation, cans typically increase the possibility of exploding.

Winner : Bottles

Fresh Factor

One thing that everyone looks for in many styles of beer is the freshness factor. The sooner you drink the beer off the line, the better some styles are. The question is, what vessel keep beer the freshest longer?

Cans are an easy choice. They are completely sealed with very few risk factors, and when done right, have less oxygen. The issue is that most entry level canning lines leave high levels of dissolved oxygen in the can, which causes the beer to have a shorter level shelf life. So, when packaged absolutely perfectly, cans will stay fresh longer. However, with entry level canning lines adding increased oxygen to the beer, it’s really a toss-up.

Winner : Toss-up. Cans theoretically will keep beer fresher longer. However entry level canning lines don’t do everything they need to do in order for cans to win this round.

The Value of Bottling

This is a factor we had to add to the list, and while it might be preference over actual beer quality statistics, it will affect your bottom line. Part of the value in an expensive bottle of beer is the overall experience, and bottles just have a nicer and richer feel. If the beer has been barrel aged, or is a style such a sour, it gains significant value from being in a bottle.

Winner : Bottles, it is the value of bottling after all.

Canning vs Bottling Beer Conclusion: It’s a Draw

There is no clear winner in the canning vs bottling showdown. Essentially, what it comes down to is you must do what is right for your brewery. Space, style of beers and productions costs are all things to considering when figuring out what is right for your brewery. Regardless if you choose to can, bottle, or both, OrchestratedBeer has you covered, allowing you to customize your needs in order to ‘Conduct Your Craft.’

Determined the packaging of your beer, but unsure how to distribute it? Check out our Beer Distribution 101 blog to determine whether distributing via a distributor or self-distribution is right for your brewery!