Canned beer has been around for a long time, since the mid 1930s. And, since 1959, when Coors introduced the first aluminum cans it has become the preferred type of packaging for beer.

But only recently in the craft brewing industry. You see, canning lines were very expensive and preprinted cans had to be ordered in vast quantities. Most craft brewers simply couldn’t afford the cash outlay. And besides, beer snobs, which included drinkers and some brewers, thought that the idea of a can smacked too much of the megabrewers. If you wanted beer from a can, the reasoning seemed to be, why not have a Miller, Bud, or Coors, or — worse yet — Milwaukee’s Best or Old Milwaukee? One well-known craft brewer was heard say that he’d never put his product in cans.

It was some two decades into the craft brewing industry that some brewers started using cans. That was in part because, around the turn of the century, Cask Brewing Systems of Calgary, Alberta, developed a relatively inexpensive canning system that was just the right size and price for small breweries. In 2002, Oskar Blues of Colorado began to market their Dale’s Pale Ale in cans and, after that, the sale of their beer increased dramatically.

Canning reached New Mexico in 2010, when Santa Fe Brewing introduced Happy Camper IPA, which now counts for over half of their sales. Marble and LaCumbre have followed suit. A local business man has bought a portable canner, which he plans to drive around to the smaller breweries in the state so that their products can be available to more people — in cans.  And, a few months ago, that stubborn brewer put his product, the most widely distributed craft lager in the United States, in cans.

With canned beer, everyone wins. The lighter, more compact, virtually unbreakable containers are less expensive to distribute. The airtight can keeps away two of beer’s greatest enemies: air and light. That beer is going to taste as fresh as, if not fresher than, one from a bottle. The environment wins as well. Environmentally conscious outdoors lovers have usually always packed out as well as packed in. Now it’s a lot easier. Cans are really easy to recycle. And environmentally unconscious people who pitch containers out of car windows aren’t going to leave shards of glass for people or animals to cut themselves on.

Some of the bigger craft brewers are now offering their best-known beers in both bottles and cans. And here’s where I have a gripe. When ever I go somewhere to buy a six pack and discover that the place only has bottles for a product that’s also available in cans, I complain. I explain the virtues of canned beer, including the fact that the compact size of a pack of canned beers takes up much less shelf space than the same number of bottles. I remind managers, especially if they run a supermarket, that all the talk about being friendly to the environment should extend to extolling the virtue of cans. And then I go somewhere else that has the product I want in cans. I’m encouraging my friends to do the same. If our joint efforts reduce the number of beer bottles, especially broken and discarded ones, that would be a good thing.

So, don’t kick the can — it really is great for craft beer and the environment.

Unless, of course, you’re using an empty container to play a game with the kids at the campground. And then, when the game is over, don’t forget to pack the can up and recycle it.