One local brewery wins big at global competition just for canned beers

Nowadays, an increasing number of craft breweries recognize the need to have a lineup of canned beers — these recyclable aluminum vessels are better for the environment and for the beer inside them than bottles. In Texas, at least, cans are also much more suited for all of our outdoor excursions, whether we’re floating down the Guadalupe River or dipping our toes in the Gulf Coast surf.

Perhaps surprisingly, canned beer still comprises only about 9 percent of the overall market, in comparison to bottled beer’s 65 percent majority, according to 2016 sales data.

That’s a big disparity that one beer competition, now in its second year, aims to highlight by allowing only canned brews to participate in it. The Can Can Awards invited breweries from around the world to send in their recyclable wares to be judged, and more than 400 of these beers were ultimately evaluated in a blind tasting.

These include brews from East Austin’s Hops & Grain, which did particularly well in the Can Can Awards. The brewery’s new River Beer took gold as an American-style lager; its longtime staple The One They Call Zoe earned a bronze in the same category.

And if there’s any beer directly intended for accompanying us this summer on the outdoor adventures I mentioned above, it’s River Beer.

River Beer was introduced earlier this year at first as a draft-only offering, but it’s now making a big splash in cans as well. I included it in a recent round-up of 10 Texas beers you should be drinking this summer, noting that it’s modeled after light lagers like Coors Banquet, with corn in its grain bill, but is also so much tastier than its macro predecessors. 

As I wrote in the story: “River Beer is intended to accompany you on all your boat rides on Lake Travis, your tubing trips down the San Marcos River, anytime you are in or over a body of water in Texas. With it, Hops & Grain is hoping to attract people who drink the likes of Coors and Budweiser, but it’s flavorful (even a little sweet, thanks to the corn) and will no doubt be the favorite of regular craft beer lovers, too.”

Winning the two medals at the Can Can Awards is a sweet victory for Hops & Grain, which seems to have found a nice niche producing lagers like these. 

Other local canned beers that impressed the 24 judges at the Can Can Awards were the bronze medal-winning Adelbert’s Naked Nun, in the Belgian-style Witbier category, and the silver medal-grabbing Infamous Brewing Sex A Peel, in the American-style Wheat Beer category. And hey — these are also light, easy-drinking summer sippers, so don’t forget to pack them alongside River Beer in your cooler for your next Texas vacation.

The full list of medal winners is available at


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