Retro Gone Too Far

Pabst-itis gone wild:
Adrian Grenier, star of HBO's "Entourage," has teamed up with a Portland designer and two local homebrewers to bring back a way of drinking beer not seen since the era depicted in another cable hit: "Mad Men."

Over dinner at downtown Portland's Clyde Common in 2010, Grenier and former Nike designer Justin Hawkins got to talking about flat top beer cans, the metal cans your dad would open by puncturing two holes in the top with a steel opener called a churchkey. Popular throughout the 1940s and 50s, the flat top disappeared in the 1960s with the invention of the pull-tab.

On Monday, Grenier and Hawkins' brewery, Churchkey Can Co., canned its first batch, a pilsner recipe developed by Portland homebrewers Lucas Jones and Sean Burke. Hawkins says Churchkey's beer will pop-up in Portland beer shops and bars -- including Southeast Grand Avenue's Dig A Pony -- by early April. A recyclable steel churchkey is included with each six pack.
I fear this is a marketing idea in search of a beer. In an age of micro-computing and digital innovation, the young folks have fallen ever more nostalgic of a time of steel and factories. Breweries have used that nostalgia in an effort to sell regular, modern cans--which come on lines vastly cheaper than comparable bottling systems. I get that; you make a virtue out of necessity. But the cans sucked. They required you to use an opener, and this resulted in sharp edges and, if I understand history correctly, could contribute to a metallic taste. They were made of much heavier steel, which was a waste of resources (no idea how the current cans are made, but they are steel). There was a reason cans evolved: the new ones are better. It's like going back to old-school refrigerators because they looked cool.

This looks like yet another case of Sally's rule: beware a company selling packaging, not beer.