Traditional brewing techniques
Just because cans are fantastic for keeping crisp IPAs fresh doesn't mean they're the answer to every brewer's problems. "There are many reasons one would clearly choose [bottles over cans]," says Anthony Accardi, co-founder and brewer at New York City's Transmitter Brewing. "Some are purely technical, others are aesthetic. We use the Belgian and French tradition of styles as a stepping-off point. Our corked and caged bottle conditioning is a nod to that."
Transmitter's approach to making beer is just one example of a technological limitation to canning. "Cans generally can't be filled with the volume of CO2 that we shoot for in the bottles, so a compromise would have to take place," Accardi says.
This would also be the case for many of the bottle-fermented Belgian styles that require the addition of yeast and sugar right into the bottle, where the beer undergoes a second fermentation. "Right now we do a lot of large-format 750ml bottles that undergo re-fermentation in the bottle," says Matt Katase, co-founder and brewer at the Brew Gentlemen in Braddock, PA. "That can't happen in a can. I've even seen some pictures of cans exploding."
Winner (at least for traditional styles): Bottles