I have a very vivid memory of being four years old and hanging out with my relatives during a backyard barbecue in Savannah, Ga. The air is humid and thick with smoke from the grill. Overhead, the sun is mercilessly sending heat rays down on us, and sweat is beading down my face. I’m thirsty, and ask for a drink. My uncle, without thinking, hands me a can of beer, and I lift it to my face and take a sip. I swallow and make a face, and hand back the can—even at four, I understand that Coors Light is terrible. The adults are startled at first, and then laugh, making me pose for a photograph with my first can of beer. My mother runs into the house to get me a glass of water, and I wash out the bad taste that lingers in my mouth.
I didn’t drink beer again until college. I was not one of those high school kids who drank at house parties when the parents were away, or secretly in parking lots while passing around a bottle somebody swiped from God knows where. The beers consumed at parties in college were also cheap and came in cans—they were also thoroughly unsatisfying. Perhaps it was due to the recession, but even after I graduated, everyone appeared to be ordering cans of cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. We drank better beer too, but it wasn’t until I drank a can of Sixpoint Sweet Action that I understood that beer in cans didn’t have to be so bad. And there’s more like it: Here, from Outside magazine, are the Top 10 Canned Beers of 2012.