Note: I went to Boston Beer Company's Jamaica Plain brewery Thursday to drink Samuel Adams Boston Lager from a standard can and the new prototype can that will come to market in time for beach season. The Globe story on how the can came to be is here. My review on how the beer tastes is below.
As a beer reviewer who always drinks from a glass, I was skeptical that cans of different shapes would have a noticeable effect on flavor. Pouring beer into an open vessel allows a drinker to parse the flavors of hops, barley, and yeast. I wasnít concerned about any tinny flavors from the cans, that problem having long been solved, but drinking out of a can struck me as more about convenience than taste.
Thatís still largely true, but the can design Boston Beer Co. chose showed small but noticeable differences from a standard can (above, left). The angle of the lip and positioning of the opening forces your mouth a little wider. During the tasting, the prototype can (above, right) deposited beer further back on my tongue than the control can. Samuel Adams Boston Lager is known for balance. You should get brief waves of peppery, floral hops on top of a malty backbone (think bread, caramel). Boston Beerís study showed that drinkers experienced these intended flavors sooner with the prototype can. During the taste test I really did get more flowery notes from the prototype, which could be due in part to the can openingís closer proximity to the nose, allowing hops to waft upward. Itís not like sipping from a glass, but itís actually superior to drinking straight from a bottle.