I bumped into a regional rep for SlyFox at my local bottle shop in Virginia this week. We had a great conversation, and he was nice enough to share with me a can of their Helles Golden Lager in their special 360 Top can. Here are my thoughts:
The beer. It is a better-than-average representation of the style. It is crisp and well carbonated. The earthy malts balance nicely with the grassy hops. The aroma suffers from the lack of head, as there was no real release of CO2 when I opened the top (like you would get when you pour out into a glass).
The can. I am not totally sold on it. I love the concept. I love the progressive take on developing novel ways to get non-lightstruck beers to the consumer, but there are a few draw backs to this.
First, from a purely beer snob perspective, I like beer from a glass. I like the presentation of a lager in a tall slender glass. The stream of bubbles making their way to the top gives me a zen-like sense of refreshment (all those years of being exposed to television ads, I guess).
Second, a logistical quandary. The area from the edge that touches your lip to the inner ring of where the top is removed from the can is pretty significant. Not so much that it makes a mess, but enough that there is a waterfall effect when the beer comes out of the can to your lips. This effect creates a lot of air being taken in with the beer. The only way to compensate for this (and really, I only had this one can to experiment with), is to stick your tongue out to connect with the inner ring to take the beer in before the waterfall. That edge is sharp, and I was constantly worried of a cut while drinking.
Interestingly, I was told by the rep, that you won’t be seeing these cans distributed any time real soon as Pennsylvania is the only state they are allowed to sell these in. The reason? If you can believe it….the litter laws. Yes, the tab detaches all the way from the can, and that is a littering risk that other states won’t permit. I am not sure fighting city hall for a waiver is really worth the fight for deliver system that stops at being novel, and never really passes to being fully-functional.
Overall, I think the beer is worthy of seeking out of Munich Helles is your thing. As for the canning process, you don’t have to spend a lot of energy coveting Pennsylvania’s littering laws. Only Jimmy Buffett would lobby for the change in those. He would love his his hit song to be relevant again: “Stepped on a pop top. Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home…”