Can A Beer Can's Size Impact Its Flavor?

There's little worse in life than a skunky beer. Unfortunately, a lot of factors can turn your beautiful brew into something that wouldn't be served at the worst party ever held. The barley, malt, hops, yeast, and temperature of a beer can all impact how it tastes. Dr. Felipe Carvalho of Vrije Universiteit Brussel even found that music can alter the taste profile of your favorite pint (via

With all of these factors coming into play, it's worth questioning whether the size of a can might make the difference between a perfect pilsner and a trip to the land of bitter beer.

The answer relies partly on the plastic liners used in the beer cans and partly on the individual's drinking habits. It also depends on how adept the manufacturer is at making its beer cans the right way. A failure in the canning process can quickly lead to a funky flavor.

How liners change the taste of beer

One of the major ways a can's size could impact the beer's flavor is the plastic can liner. If you're curious about what it looks like, YouTuber Mr. Michal devised a little experiment you can do at home that will allow you to see the liner of your beer can.

This liner can be a major flavor factor when it comes to beer can sizes. Tim Faith, who works at White Claw as the technical brewing manager, broke it down for The Takeout by saying "the cans themselves could have different liners." This means even the same brewing company could use a different type of liner in its 12-ounce cans than it uses for 16-ouncers, potentially altering the taste. Mr. Faith goes on to say, "The metals and ions in solution can and will react with the aluminum if there are any defects in the liner application."

Thus, a beer maker that doesn't line its 16-ounce cans as effectively as its 12-ounce cans could create a chemical reaction that will certainly affect how the beer tastes.

Does size matter?

One Reddit thread tackled the beer can size question, asking what people preferred when it came to sipping. While no one said different can sizes altered the taste, the thread's author pointed out, "I personally don't like the pint-sized cans. ... the bottom quarter of the can always seems to be warmer than I'd like." Though this doesn't impact flavor directly, warm, flat beer almost always tastes worse than its chiller, fizzy counterpart.

Another Redditor on the same thread pointed out that what they're drinking changes how much of it they desire. "There's almost no circumstance in which I actually want 16oz of pastry stout or barleywine," they said, "but there are plenty of styles where I'm glad to have a full pint."

While this also isn't a direct alteration of flavor due to can size, if you're sick of that IPA, it's not going to be nearly as alluring to have four more ounces of it. So, when picking a can size, know that the flavor might change based as much on your drinking experience as what's beneath the pop tab.