Beer may be path to bipartisan consensus

Spring is (finally) in the air here in the nation’s capital and with that comes everything from longer days and softball games on the mall to crippling allergies and swarms of selfie snapping tourists.

Unfortunately, as Congress returns from spring recess, the atmosphere on the hill is still one of partisan gridlock. With firm majorities in both Houses, Republicans continue to oppose most of the president’s policy priorities, while Democrats have learned to start embracing the filibuster. From the failure of bills on human trafficking and immigration to squabbling over Israel and Iran, it seems like there is no area of constructive agreement between our two political parties. 

{mosads}But as we celebrate a new baseball season and approach Earth Day, there might be something to break that logjam. That’s because there is a bipartisan consensus brewing on the best way to serve up your favorite beer: aluminum bottles and cans.

You’ve probably noticed a rise in good, craft beer sold in aluminum. Over the past five years, aluminum usage in canned beer has increased from 50 to 55 percent market share in US, while glass usage has dropped from 40 to 35 percent market share, according to the Aluminum Association.

Here are a few reasons why:

 1.       It’s the Cool Thing For the Microbrews.  From coast to coast, we are seeing a surge in the number of craft breweries embracing aluminum. According to CraftCans.com, over 500 microbreweries nationwide are brewing nearly 2,000 styles of beer in cans. And this trend holds true right here in our area. Garett Peck, author of Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington D.C., says that, “We have now two breweries in DC that are canning: DC Brau and Atlas Brew Works. And another that bottles: Port City. Two others do specialty bottling: Bluejacket and 3 Stars. Plus we’re seeing more and more beer – good beer – that comes in a can, like Avery, Hardywood and Oskar Blues. Consumers have long viewed canned beer as synonymous with bad, cheap beer, but that is wearing off.”

2.       Keeps It Cold. A warm spring begets a steamy summer, and the days when your beer turns from savory to skunked in a matter of minutes are right around the corner. But with its superior insulation, the aluminum bottle keeps beer colder for as much as 50 minutes longer than it otherwise would be. Cheers to that.

3.       Preserves and Protects. Your wine snob friends may have commented on the need to keep their vintage in the basement. This may sound pretentious, but they are on to something. Exposure to light and oxygen degrades the taste of wine, and the same is true for beer. Keeping beer in an aluminum container offers similar protection from the elements, meaning you can enjoy the taste and avoid unnecessary waste.

4.       Infinitely Recyclable.  A finished beer is often completed by crushing your can, but is there a better way? Turns out aluminum is infinitely recyclable – meaning if you toss your trash the right way the odds are that material will be back on the shelf and serving you up a new brew in no time. The average aluminum can contains 70 percent recycled content, significantly more than the EPA estimates of the corresponding figure for glass bottles (23 percent) and plastic/PET bottles (3 percent).

So celebrate this spring with a sentiment both sides of the aisle can agree upon. Whether you’re at Nats Park or just trying to do your part on Earth Day, go for the container that keeps your beer cold while giving you the satisfaction of being more sustainable. Drink responsibly, but drink smart – when you sip to this season, aim for aluminum.

 Meenan is director of Communications at the Aluminum Association.  

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