Aluminum overtakes some of the city's nicest watering holes

Imagine you've just sat down to a nice meal. The decor is fancy, the food delicious. To complete the evening, your waiter brings over your favorite beer.

There's only one catch: It's in a can.

Several years ago, such a scene would've sent chills down the spine of any fine diner or beer connoisseur. Yet it's becoming more common as microbreweries increasingly opt for aluminum and local restaurants strip canned beer of its swill-only stigma.

Among them is the swanky Hubbard Grille, which opened this month in the Short North. Though known for its gourmet food and chic look, the restaurant serves refreshments from Breckenridge Brewery and Southern Star Brewing Company in 12-ounce aluminum packages.

Beers by bigger manufacturers come the same way.

"Anyone who says that it ruins the integrity of the beer is just lying," said general manager Daniel Morris, who wants his spot to offer a laidback vibe. "The response has been absolutely phenomenal. Our guests have made me look like a genius."

The Jury Room, another January addition, also stocks a broad line of aluminum: Whitkirk Belgium and Breckenridge, as well as Red Stripe, Corona, Guinness and Lion.

Other Columbus spots - including Betty's Fine Food & Spirits and Hal & Al's - offer a robust selection of beers encased in aluminum, too.

So why the cans?

For many bar and restaurant owners, the can's appeal lies in going green. Lighter and more compact than bottles, crushed cans are able to be recycled more easily and more affordably than glass.

"Other than beer, wine and liquor, you don't have that many glass bottles anymore," said John Remy, spokesman for the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. "There are fewer places to process glass because there is less glass to process."

Though her businesses recycle both glass and aluminum, Liz Lessner, president of the Betty's Family of Restaurants, has pushed customers to choose draft beer and aluminum cans.

"Customers are initially turned off to get their beloved Corona, Red Stripe, Miller Lite or Guinness in a can," Lessner explained, "but we shove a glass in their face and let them know we like the environment, and they seem to calm down."