Home > Food > Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Beer Can!

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Beer Can!


How to celebrate this holiday? Pop open a cold one and enjoy!

Read on to learn how the canned beer overcame glass bottles to become the packaging of choice for their brew to beer drinkers in America and worldwide.

Beer Can Collection photo by Chuck Starret of www.mibeercans.com

Beer Can Collection photo by Chuck Starret of http://www.mibeercans.com

American Can was the company that made the beer can a reality. Their journey to developing a can strong enough to withstand 80 PSI and make the tin non-reactive to the beer inside actually began in 1909 when an American brewery approached American Can to develop a metal can for their beer. But the journey didn’t end until 2 years after the Prohibition ended and American Can went brewery after brewery, seeking a company willing to try their product. None were willing to take the risk on a new technology.

Until they went to the Krueger family. The Krueger Brewery had nothing to lose by trying the radical new packaging: they were almost out of business after 13 years of prohibition, their patriarch and founder recently passed away, and their workers on strike, they took up American Can’s offer to install the equipment for free. As a matter of fact, the brewery would only pay American Can if the experiment was a success.

The first beer in aluminum cans was test-distributed to 2000 of its loyal drinkers by the Krueger brewery in 1933, to their general approval. In 1935 Krueger started to test the market with canned beer, previously only used to purchasing beer in glass bottles or served as draft in bars.  People loved the convenience, lighter weight, unbreakability.  By the end of the year, an additional 37 US breweries would go on to sell their beer in cans.

And the rest is history. Canned beer by far makes up the vast majority of take-home beer purchase. Cans range in size from a few ounces to “party” cans of 5L. Numerous innovations have been made to cans from their printing to their construction to their opening mechanisms. There is a huge market for collectible beer cans,  and numerous sites dedicated to their hobby, my favorites in reading up for this post were:

http://www.bcca.com/– The website of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America

http://www.beercannews.com– This site’s “History” page tells the story of how the beer can was brought to market in both the US and UK in greater detail.

http://www.mibeercans.com– Thanks for the great photo of your collection, Chuck!

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  1. January 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I think one of the most interesting canned beers is Guinness with their “widget” in the can, designed to help create the perfect head on the beer. Thanks for sharing!

    • CelebrateHoliday
      January 24, 2010 at 11:10 pm

      Hi Becky, Yes, the Guinness widget is ingenious! As someone lucky enough to have been to Ireland, I do enjoy a well-poured draught, all foamy from the tap, but the cans with the widget provide an fun & effective substitute, indeed!

  2. January 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    I watched about this on Discovery. The history if beer is fascinating. My favorite part was about “little beer”.

    Oh and for the record, I’m a bottle man myself. 😉

    • CelebrateHoliday
      January 25, 2010 at 9:25 am

      Hi Joshua! Thanks for visiting my blog. I’ll have to look around for this on Discovery, see if I can record it. The research for these holidays is really fun and makes for great conversation. I think I have nothing but bottles in the fridge right now myself- I guess we are not the majority. Oh well!

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