The practice of selling beer by the can coincided with the end of Prohibition in 1933. Anticipating, perhaps, a change in the political climate, American Can Company had a flat-topped steel beer can ready to go, but it had to offer to install its canning line for free before a Newark, New Jersey, brewer named Krueger would agree to package its beer in cans. In fact, Krueger was so worried its customers would reject beer in cans that it didn’t launch its new product until 1935, and chose Richmond, Virginia, as its test market. Richmond was deemed far enough away from headquarters not to hurt the brewer’s reputation if the cans were crushed by the bottled competition.

Canned beer, though, was an immediate hit, prompting National Can and Continental Can to tool up that same year. National’s first customer was Northampton, which canned its Tru-Blu brands in flat-top cans. National canned beer for numerous other small brewers, too, from Red Top in Cincinnati to King’s Brewing in Brooklyn. American Can landed big national accounts like Anheuser-Busch (maker of Budweiser), Pabst, and Ballantine. Continental was famous for the cone-topped cans it produced for Schlitz.

Cone-top cans appealed to customers because they were easy to pour, and they were popular with brewers because the cans could be slotted into existing bottling lines. There were low-profile cone tops and high-profiles ones, as well as mid-profile J-spout cans, all of which were assembled from three pieces of metal. The exception to this rule was the Crowntainer, whose concave base anchored that can’s one-piece body.

Flat tops were simpler to make and cheaper to ship than cone tops—in the end, that won the day. Because flat-top cans were ubiquitous compared to cone-top cans, which had all but disappeared by the end of the 1950s, cone tops are generally more sought after by collectors.

Another subset of beer-can collecting focuses on cans made during World War II. All beer sent to the military, which was supposed to account for 15 percent of each brewer’s output, had less alcohol in it than beer brewed for domestic consumption (3.2 percent versus 4-to-7 percent). That’s one differentiator to look for when trying to date a potential war-era can, which should also have a statement on it that reads, "Withdrawn Free of Internal Revenue Tax for Exportation." By 1944, the domestic labels used for canned military-bound beer were replaced with olive-drab packaging, which makes these cans even easier to identify.

In the postwar years, all flat-top cans had to be opened manually with a church key. In 1960, Burger Brewing of Cincinnati introduced a steel can with an aluminum lid to make this task easier for consumers. But the major change in beer cans occurred in 1962, when Pittsburgh’s Iron City Brewing canned its beer in Alcoa-made zip-top cans. Over the next two years, numerous different types of zip-top cans would be introduced, some with no instructions on the can’s tops, others with sharp edges on the tab itself, and a few that left an opening in the top of the can that collectors refer to as a dogbone for its shape. Schiltz called its zip tops "pop tops." Call them what you like, but these small, sharp strips of metal littered beaches and parks until 1975, when they were replaced by stay tabs.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Rustycans.com

Rustycans.com

What could be better than a beautifully rusted antique beer can? How about Mark Benbow’s handsome RustyCans.com w… [read review or visit site]

Red Fox Chapter

Red Fox Chapter

The guys at the Connecticut Chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America have created a full-on tribute to t… [read review or visit site]

Bottle Cap Index

Bottle Cap Index

Assembled by Gunther Rademacher with the help of several other contributors, this collection of over half a million… [read review or visit site]

British Beer Labels

British Beer Labels

This pre-1965 collection is organized alphabetically by brand and contains scans of seemingly thousands of beautif… [read review or visit site]

Plopsite.de

Plopsite.de

Norbert Lamping's collection of 600+ ceramic bottle stoppers, Hutter stoppers, swingtops, swivel stoppers, and ligh… [read review or visit site]

Bock Beer Labels

Bock Beer Labels

A quick tour of pre-Prohibition bock beer label designs with nice, high resolution scans. Do the whole slide show o… [read review or visit site]

Trappist Beers and Monks

Trappist Beers and Monks

An interesting site dedicated to Trappist beers and the history of the development of beer brewed by Trappist Bened… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

St. Louis Abc Beer Oi Flat Top Beer Can Missouri Mo Opening Instruction Lilek 04Kuebler Pilsener J-spout Cone Top Beer CanChief Oshkosh Beer High Profile Cone Top Beer Can & Bottle Cap Wisconsin Wisc WiFrakenmuth Ale High Profile Cone Top Beer CanOld Topper Lager Beer Crowntainer Cone TopHanley's Extra Pale J-spout Cone Top Beer CanKrueger Crowntainer Cone Top Beer Can W/ CapBlatz Select Lager Low Profile Cone Top Beer Can W/ CapA+1949 Independent Milwaukee Brau Meister Cone Top Beer Can+bottle Cap WisconsinTopper Cone Top Beer Can Lot Quart And 12oz (6)Richbrau Crowntainer Beer Can Home Brewing, Richmond, Va Usbc 198-19Nu-globe, Flat Top Beer Can, Globe Brewing...s.f. Cal.Meister Brau Pilsener Flat Top Beer CanWillows, Flat Top Beer Can, General Enterprise Co, S.f.cal.Gluek’s Beer Crowntainer Cone Top - Not More Than 4%White Seal Cone Top Beer Can Nmt 3.2% 189-04 Kiewel Brewing Little Falls MnChampagne Velvet Premium J-spout Cone Top Beer CanStorz Winterbru, Flat Top Beer Can, Omaha, Neb.Gretz Beer Can Car Series Flat Top - Philadelphia PaEsslinger's Beer Quart Cone Top Beer CanRare Coors Light Die-cut Beer Can Metal Tin Sign Garage Shop Bar Rec RoomEsslinger's Little Man Ale Crowntainer Beer CanRolling Rock Beer Cone Top Can Latrobe PaFull Set Of 24 Falstaff Ss Flat Top Beer CansMiller Select Flat Top Oi Beer Can Miller Brewing Co Milwaukee Wi WisconsinUtica Club Ale Flat Top Beer Can Flat Sheet West End, New York Unrolled Beer CanSchmidt’s Cream Ale Tiger Band Crowntainer Cone TopHuber All Grain High Profile Cone Top Beer CanKamm’s Light Beer Crowntainer Cone Top**tough C.1950s Leisy's Light Indoor Cone Top Beer Can From Cleveland, OhHanley’s Extra Pale Crowntainer Cone TopVietnam "beer Can" Arvn Insignia Collection 17 PiecesMira Seam Test Can St. Patrick's Day Schlitz Pull Top Beer Can 1973 DatedNice Red Top Cone Top Beer Can Irtp Red Top Brewing Cincinnati Oh Rare Orig CapSchmidt Beer Northern Pike Bottom Open Zip Top Beer Can Fly Fishing St Paul MinnHarvard Ale Flat Top Beer CanViking Draft Flat Top Beer CanVietnam "beer Can" Arvn Insignia Collection 13 PiecesGroup Of 20 Rusty Cone Top Beer CansGold Medal Beer Cone Top Can Stegmaier Brewing Co. Wilkes-barre, Pa - EmptyRed Wing Stoneware 1 Gallon Salt Glaze Jug Bottom Signed Cone Top Excellent CondOld Vintage Cone Top Falstaff Beer Can Conetop*** Rare Antique Cone Top Krueger Finest Beer Can ***Harvard Ale Flat Top Beer CanOrbit Miami, Fl Florida Bottom Opened Pull Top Beer Can 60's Tough!Erin Brew Flat Top Beer Can 60-10 Standard Brewing Co Cleveland Oh Ohio stag Beer Cone TopGrain Belt Premuim High Profile Cone Top Beer Can W/ Cap*** Vintage Antique Cone Top Dawson's Master Ale Beer Can ***Vintage Rheingold Genuine Bock Beer CanDenver Tivoli Beer Can Tivoli Bry. Denver, Colo. T/oYuengling Premium Beer Difficult Cone TopStorz, Flat Top Beer Can, Omaha, Neb.1930s Larger Font Abc Flat Top Beer Can Oi Irtp St Louis MissouriAntique Schlitz Cone Top Beer Can 1937Tivoli 1951 Western Premium Flat Top Beer CanAltes Beer Crowntainer Cone Top - Tivoli Brewing DetroitSchlitz Vitamin D Sunshine Beer Can Ss 12oz Cone Top Milwaukee Wisconsin WowBruck's Jubilee Crowntainer Beer Can Bruckmann, Cincinnati, Oh Usbc 192-221950's The Tough Black Letter Variant Pearl Flat Top Beer Can

Recent News: Beer Cans

Source: Google News

The tricks and tips of aging beer
mySanAntonio.com, July 26th

In the wine world, bringing an old dusty bottle out of the cellar is something to do for a special occasion, but with beer, that seems like a recipe for disaster. Beers are best drunk fresh. If there's a date on the label, it's usually meant to tell...Read more

Brewers convention to feature beer collectibles show Aug. 2
Toledo Free Press, July 24th

According to NABA President George Baley, attendees will find an array of breweriana spanning decades of brewery history. “Our focus is on mirrors, trays, signs, labels, lithographs, statues, and most anything you can think of,” Baley said. “While the...Read more

Historic 175-year-old brew revived for Birmingham Beer Bash
Birmingham Mail, July 24th

in the Jewellery Quarter, is among the breweries taking part in the historic beer revival project which was dreamed up by the Beer Bash team and beer historian Ron Pattinson, who will be at the event encouraging home brewers to try vintage beer...Read more

15 Awesome Vintage Beer Cans
Paste Magazine, July 22nd

Earlier this month, Narragansett announced it was bringing back its classic 1975 can — the same one famously crushed by Captain Sam Quint — in honor of the 39th anniversary of Jaws. The brewery is only the latest to join a growing trend of beer...Read more

Pittsburgh Hosting BeerFest & Breweriana Conventions This Weekend
CBS Local, July 18th

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Roll out those beer cases and prime the taps! Stage AE on the North Shore is preparing for the second annual Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest. “There will be 8,000 people here over the two nights,” says events director Craig Johnson...Read more

NABA bringing national convention, brewery show to Toledo
Akron Beacon Journal (blog), July 17th

The National Association Breweriana Advertising — also known as NABA — will hold a free brewery collectibles show in Toledo in August as part of its 43rd annual convention. The show, which is open to the public, is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 2 at...Read more

'Breweriana' show displays old beer cans, history (video)
The Plain Dealer, July 13th

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio – The Brewery Collectibles Club of America's Lake Erie chapter held a show and sale to highlight "breweriana" – all things beer-related. Old cans, current bottles, nostalgic trays and historical Cleveland brewery items were all on...Read more

Breweriana show, sale to celebrate brewing history, collectibles
The Plain Dealer (blog), June 27th

"It's (breweriana) in big demand all over the world; it's not just a big thing here," said Rodger Brane, president of the local chapter of the 44-year-old BCCA. "We invite the public. The key thing is there are so many guys in the area – their aunt...Read more