One of the many great debates in the beer world comes down to what sits atop our amber glass bottles: the crown, or more precisely how that crown comes off. The twist-off vs. pry-off debate involves a number of aspects, including the quality of the seal, ease of use, cost, and “image” to name a few.
One of the most common arguments for the use of pry-off crowns is the supposed better seal as compared to their twist-off brethren. Whether due to the softer metal in the crown, or the possibility of crowns loosening during packaging and transport, the twist-off crown has a questionable reputation when it comes to keeping beer fresh. A concern for freshness prompted Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to switch back to pry-off crowns after using twist-offs for 12 years. The brewery wished to use a new, more effective crown liner that would not work properly with twist-off crowns. However, some brewers say the quality of the seal has little to do with the type of crown used, and twist-off crowns are every bit as good as the alternative.
The twist-off crown seems like the obvious choice when it comes to convenience, since it can be opened without the need for a bottle opener. However, an afternoon of opening your fair share of tightly torqued twist-offs can lead to some sore hands. Tight twist-offs actually led Summit Brewing Company to switch back to the classic pry-off crowns used years earlier after receiving an increasing number of comments about how hard it was to remove their twist-off crowns, many resorting to using a bottle opener.
Some breweries use a certain crown style simply due to cost considerations; smaller breweries or those just starting out may choose pry-off style crowns because they are cheaper. The equipment required to use twist-off crowns comes at an added expense, which can tighten what is likely an already restricted budget for these craft breweries.
One of the most widely used reasons craft brewers use pry-off crowns is because, “Everyone else is doing it!” The majority of the craft brewing market uses pry-off crowns, making them an integral part of the craft beer image. When a customer buys a craft beer, (s)he probably expects it to have a pry-off crown. Since craft beers are considered premium brands, many craft brewers use pry-offs to maintain the high quality image of their brand.
So which crown style is best?
The crown you use is up to you! They are nearly identical in terms of typical use. While there may be small tradeoffs between either style, it comes down to your equipment, budget, brand image, and personal preference.