Canned Craft Beer Becomes Trendy Choice

Restaurants, bars find cans to preserve flavor, be easier on environment

The first Canned Beer Dinner at Tokio Pub in Schaumburg, Ill., gave guests a grip on two hot topics in today’s industry — craft beer in cans and locally produced beverages.

The four-course, $45-per-person event featured products from Chicago-area craft brewers like double IPA, or India pale ale, paired with Asian BBQ Pork Sandwiches, blonde ale with Tokio Pub Fish and Chips, and stout with liquid-center chocolate cake. Adding to the novelty of the evening were beer-inspired plate presentations like a can-shaped parmesan tuile perched atop a green salad and beer-battered onion rings looped around an empty suds can.

“Initially, people were wowed that they each got their own can of beer,” said Jill Koval, general manager of the pub, which blends Asian and Latin-American culinary influences and is part of the Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant group. “And they really got to see how much we pride ourselves on food presentation. By the end of the night, everyone was pushing their tables together and having so much fun.”

The pub’s beer list is made up exclusively of cans and beers on draft. All told, there are 10 standard 12-ounce cans ranging from mainstream U.S. lagers to Mexican and Japanese imports and local craft choices. Add to that seven “big cans” ranging from a 14.9-ounce Irish stout to a jumbo 22-ounce Japanese reserve lager. One of the popular choices served at the dinner is a strongly hopped brew that is made just 20 minutes away from the pub in suburban Chicago, Koval noted.