Artsy Cans of Craft Beer That Prove Aluminum Is All Grown Up

Once the domain of dull domestic lager, aluminum cans have become U.S. craft brewing’s coolest package, with flavor-charged beer inside and gallery-worthy designs on the label. Seek out these eight avant-garde brews on your next trip.

Artsy Cans of Craft Beer That Prove Aluminum Is All Grown Up

Local beers—and the cans they come in—are having a moment.

Photo by Kelsey McClellan, Styling by Michelle Maguire

The beer can might be the best drinking vessel for travel. More portable than a bottle (and perfect for easy picnic-basket packing), now they offer much more than the watery mass-market lagers of yore. Breweries and cideries have started treating cans like handheld billboards, tasking often local artists, designers, and illustrators to devise eye-catching designs that capture where the beer was brewed. The best of breed marry vibrant visuals to flavors that transport drinkers to places like San Francisco and Virginia Beach. Here are eight brews worth checking out on your next cross-country adventure.


Photo by Kelsey McClellan

Great Raft Brewing
Reasonably Corrupt
Shreveport, LA

Louisiana’s infamous law-shirking politicians inspired a German-style black lager that, despite its dark tint, remains a nimble sip.


Courtesy of Kings County Brewers Collective

Kings County Brewers Collective
Dangerous Precedent
Brooklyn, NY

KCBC marries bold yet balanced flavors to Earl Holloway’s comic book–inspired can illustrations. The IPA’s intense aroma evokes tropical fruit.

Deer Snacks
Vergennes, VT

The brewery forages for the wild apples used in a dry cider that, like many of Shacksbury’s fermentations, is as elegant as fine wine.


Courtesy of Commonwealth Brewing Company

Commonwealth Brewing Company
Big Papi
Virginia Beach, VA

This brewery is one of the East Coast’s best producers of barely bitter double IPAs. The can’s juicy colors evoke the contents’ aroma and flavor.


Courtesy of Wild Heaven Beer

Wild Heaven Beer
Emergency Drinking Beer
Avondale Estates, GA

These Georgian brewers buck convention by mashing together a snappy pilsner and a salty-sour German gose laced with lemongrass and citrus zest, creating a singular refresher well suited for both day and night drinking.


Courtesy of Fair State Brewing Cooperative

Fair State Brewing Cooperative
Clarity of Purpose
Minneapolis, MN

Excelling at fruited sours and unfiltered pilsners alike, Fair State has partnered with Surly Brewing Company to create a hugely fragrant, double dry-hopped IPA that’s as clear as the Caribbean.


Courtesy of Fort Point Beer Company

Fort Point Beer Company
San Francisco, CA

The sibling-run brewery spins sublime modern takes on traditional styles, such as German rotbier. This caramel-rich red ale is cashmere smooth.


Courtesy of Bale Breaker Brewing Company

Bale Breaker Brewing Company
Leota Mae IPA
Yakima, WA

Set on a family-run hop farm founded in 1932, Bale Breaker embraces the local bounty of the Pacific Northwest to make expressive pale ales and IPAs, such as this pungent sipper named after the farmstead’s matriarch.

>>Next: America’s Best Drinking City Isn’t Where You Think It Is

Joshua M. Bernstein is a Brooklyn-based beer, spirits, food and travel journalist, as well as an occasional tour guide, event producer and industry consultant.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR