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Good beer in a can? Now that is proof that does God loves us

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

I like beer. On occasion, I will even drink beer to celebrate a major event such as the fall of communism or the fact that the refrigerator is still working - Dave Barry

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Ben Franklin once said that "beer is proof that God loves us." Most American brewed macro beers, however, are proof beyond a reasonable doubt that barley, hops and yeast can stew together for weeks and still come out tasting like Florida tap water.

The evolution of these (shall we generously refer to them as) Pilsners has been simultaneous with the emergence of the aluminum can as the primary vehicle for their conveyance. This inexorable convergence has subsequently led to canned beer becoming the flagship drink of such noble pursuits as floating down a river on an eight-man raft with cooler in tow, racing bass fishing boats, and (of utmos importance in this valuable, limited space) golf.

The reasons for canned beer's popularity among the recreational masses are two-fold. Those who oversee our hallowed beaches, golf courses and lakes frown upon glass and its potential for negatively impacting the community. Those who oversee the purchasing of mass quantities of beer are more than willing to oblige, taking refuge in the notion that they can squeeze more canned beer than bottled beer into their 54-quart ice chest while still being able to close the top.

Throughout this phenomenon, quality has suffered more than one of Joe Millionaire's castoffs. This no longer is the case (pun intended) thanks to Oskar Blues Brewery. The Lyons, Colo., based craft brewer is now making its robust Dale's Pale Ale in the can, and Arizona has been, um, tapped as the first non-Colorado market.

"We chose Arizona as our first out-of-Colorado market because the state has more boaters and golfers, per capita, than in any state in America," says Dale Katechis, Oskar Blues owner and Dale's Pale Ale namesake. "Those people deserve a choice for good beer when they're out having fun."

At 6.5 percent alcohol by volume, Dale's Pale Ale is twice as strong as most mainstream macro brews - a simple fact that will no doubt lead to some serious sleep deprivation for Arizona lake enthusiasts and golf course homeowners. But as any social philosopher worth a salt will eloquently explain, sometimes the good of the few has to be sacrificed for the enjoyment of the many.

Taste, on the other hand, is not to be toyed with.

"There's a myth about beer in cans," says Jim Fisher of the Ball Corp., the company responsible for Dale's efficient packaging. "People think it has a metallic taste because it's in a metal package. The fact is there's a coating in the can and the beer never touches metal. There's no flavor issue with a can other than people's perceptions."

Reckon these deep thoughts will ever enter the mind of a 36-hadicapper polishing off his 36th hole in the 115-degree desert heat of Chandler this summer? Maybe not, but cooler heads have prevailed in Colorado so far. Oskar Blues has boosted its off-premise sales by a belly-busting 700 percent in its first quarter of sales. The beer has been a smash hit with retailers and beer drinkers in the Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins areas since it hit the market last November.

"It's a brilliant idea," says Paul Gatza, director of the Institute for Brewing Studies in Boulder, Colo. "Dale's allows craft beer to go where no craft beer has gone before: on airlines, to parks, fishing and backpacking trips and softball fields. That's huge."

Huge indeed. Pass the beer nuts.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

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