The Sam CanSamuel Adams, a brand of The Boston Beer Co., Boston, announced that for the first time it plans to offer Samuel Adams Boston Lager in a can that is designed to closely match the experience of drinking beer from a glass, the company says. The “Sam Can,” which is the result of two years of ergonomic and sensory research and testing, will hit shelves in early summer 2013, just in time for outdoor drinking occasions.

“The debate over bottles vs. cans has been a sticking point for brewers in the craft beer community for years,” said Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams, in a statement. “In the past, I had my doubts about putting Sam Adams in a can because I wasn’t convinced that Boston Lager would taste as good as it does from a bottle, but cans have changed, and I believe we’ve designed a can that provides a slight but noticeably better drinking experience than the standard beer can.”

Koch and the other brewers at Samuel Adams first worked with can manufacturer Ball Corp., Broomfield, Colo., to understand can design and technology and how to package premium beer in cans. The brewers then worked with a design team at IDEO, a global design firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., and enlisted the help of sensory expert Roy Desrochers of GEI Consultants, Libertyville, Ill. With Desrochers’ help, Koch studied every aspect of the new can, from how it could potentially impact the flavor of Samuel Adams’ flagship Boston Lager to the ergonomics of how the beer flows from the can and hits the taste receptors on a consumer’s tongue.

“I worked with [Koch] and the other brewers at Sam Adams on an ergonomic and flavor study to understand the benefits of the new can,” Desrochers said in a statement. “The flared lip and wider top of the new Sam Can work in concert to deliver the beer in a way that makes the flavor closer to drinking out of a glass. Although subtle, this can delivers a more pronounced, more balanced flavor experience — something that was very important to the brewers. The extended lip of the can also creates a smoother, more comfortable overall drinking experience.”

While using the new can, drinkers should notice enhanced flavors and a more comfortable experience, the company says. The position of the can opening and wider lid naturally open up the mouth, allowing for more air flow, and positions the drinker’s nose closer to the hop aromas of the beer, it says. Drinkers also will note that the extended, curved lip of the can delivers the beer to the front of the palate to maximize the early enjoyment of the malt sweetness, it adds.

Koch’s end goal in developing a new can is to provide drinkers with the best possible Boston Lager drinking experience when they prefer the convenience of a can without compromising the taste of the Boston Lager, the company says.

“The new Sam Can required a million dollar investment in special equipment tooling along with time, research and testing,” Koch explained in a statement. “This new can will also cost more than the standard can to produce. It may seem a little crazy to make that kind of investment, but we felt the slight improvement in the drinking experience was worth the expense. We made decisions based on the beer, not on the bottom line. We’ve done tastings here at the brewery with Sam Adams drinkers and our experts, and now we’re proud to launch Samuel Adams Boston Lager in cans. We have a vessel that gives our drinkers the best-tasting Samuel Adams in a can.”

Samuel Adams Boston Lager will be available in 12-packs of cans nationwide beginning this summer with a suggested retail price between $14.99 and $17.99.