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to look for when trying to date a potential war-era can, which should also have a statement on it that reads, "Withdrawn Free of Internal Revenue Tax for Exportation."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    

Rare Vintage Dixco Schlitz Beer Can Tach 60s Dixson Corp Accessory Tachometer Excellent C.1950s Unopened Moosehead Ale Cone Top Beer Can Bottle Sign Nb CanadaVery Clean Cooks Goldblume Steamboat Cone Top Beer Can, Evansville, Indiana Esslinger's Cone Top 12oz Beer Can Fantastic ConditionKato Lager Beer Cone Top Can Mankato MnVintage Schlitz Sunshine Vitamin D Milwaukee Famous Lp Cone Top Beer Can Clean1st Bcca Canvention Tab Top Beer Can, St. Louis, Missouri, 1971Krueger Beer Oi Can W K Man - Gold And Red - Flat Top Beer Can Exc+ C.1950 Dow Brewery Ale Montreal Cone Top Beer Can Bottle Sign Quebec CanadaExc+ C.1950 Unopened Black Horse Ale Cone Top Beer Can Bottle Sign Quebec CanadaMiller Select Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-opening InstructionsWashington's Pale A1+ Crown Container Cone Top Beer CanHaas Cone TopGorgeous Stoney's Pilsner Cone Top Beer Can A1+Clean Leisy's Brewing Cleveland, Oh. Old Cone Top Beer Can Beautiful Menominee Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Usbc 173-18Duquesne Cone Top Beer CanIroquois Indian Head Aleirtp Cone Top Beer Can Buffalo New YorkBright Clean Red Top Ale Irtp Old Cone Top Beer Can National Beer Draft Gallon Beer CanGriesedieck Bros. "double Mellow" Irtp Crowntainer Beer CanNice C.1950 Red Cap Ale Waterloo Ontario Cone Top Beer Can Bottle Sign CanadaRare Exotic1930s Tahoe Beer Cone Top Can Tavern Trove Reno NevadaIndoor Buckeye 2 Waiter Version Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Toledo OhioStandard Irtp Ale Low Profile Cone Top Beer Can Rochester New York Rainier Flat Top Beer Can Goetz Country Club A1++ Cone Top Beer CanRoyal 58 Beer 12 Oz. Pull Top Beer Can-duluth Division Of G. Heileman BrewingRare Prima Cone Top Beer Can Prima-bismarck Brewing Chicago, Il Original Cap3 Old Style Flattop Beer Cans + Six Pack CartonGrain Belt "orange" Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Usbc 167-6Rare White Horse Flat Top Beer Can Chicago Il Itrp Oi EmptyNice C.1950 Carling's Black Label Cone Top Beer Can Bottle Sign Canada ClevelandClean Ballantine 2-face Irtp Ft Beer Can; Usbc V1 #33-32Webber's Old Lager Irtp Cone Top Beer CanTempo Flat Top Beer Can Blatz Milwaukee WisconsinGeyer's Lager 12 Oz Pull Tab Beer CanColt 45 By Lone Star, Oklahoma City, Flat Top Beer Can, Also San Antonio, Texas Jaguar Light Premium 12 Oz Pull Tab Beer CanKessler Cone Top Beer CanEarly Gibbons Cone Top Beer Can - Wilkes Barre, Pa.!!!!!Schmidt's Tiger Ale Irtp Cone Top Beer CanNamar Cone Top Beer Can Cooper Brewing Philadelphia PaFort Schuyler Lager Flat Top Beer Can West End Brewing Co., Utica, N.y.All Original "roll Out The Barrel" Rainier Jubileeseattle 12oz Flat Top Beer CanHanleys Ale Irtp Quart Cone Top Beer Can Providence RiBlue-set Can-pilsner Glass-griesedieck Flat Top Beer Can-st Louis MissouriOld German 1/1+ Irtp Cone Top Beer CanLot Of 4 Cone Top Beer Cans Abc, Berghoff, Cold Spring, Schmidt'sLot Of 4 Cone Top Beer Cans Red Top, Highlander, Blatz, Blatz (repainted)Scarce 1940s Wooden Shoe Beer Cone Top Can Tavern Trove Minster OhioVery Nice Berghoff 12oz Cone Top Beer Can--irtpBerghoff Low Profile Irtp Cone Top Beer CanClean Dutch Club Cone Top Beer Can Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Pittsburg PaHornung Light Beer Diamond Anniversary Brew Outdoor Oi Flat Top Beer CanLeidigs German & Pilsner Style - Old Flat Top Beer Cans W/ Opening InstructionsRare Burger Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Burger Brewing Cinci, Ohio Original CapSuper Rare Mission Rootbeer Quart Cone Top Soda Can.Fehrs Irtp J Spout Cone Top Beer Can Louisville KentuckyOld German Cone Top

Recent News: Beer Cans

Source: Google News

Aurora antiques dealer finds joy in helping others find a link to their past
Chicago Daily Herald, March 28th

He was looking for items for his Aurora store and for his personal collection of beer memorabilia. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer. Glenn Lynch shops a Bolingbrook estate sale. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer. Old toys grace the sales floor at Out of...Read more

Doc Bresler's Cavity Busters: A Tribute
Philadelphia Magazine (blog), March 27th

(Per the Inquirer obit, he also "had an extensive collection of beer memorabilia, 'which is ironic since he never had a beer in his life,' his family said.") And I knew Doc Bresler despite never seeing him, and that's because of his infomercial. I don...Read more

Featured Bar of the Week: Prince's Tavern
Sioux City Journal, March 26th

Atmosphere: Walls are adorned with a hodge podge of beer memorabilia including an antique vintage Budweiser Clydesdales Carousel Light hanging on a chain above the bar. Autographed jerseys hang on the walls, including one from former West High ...Read more

David A. Bresler, 61, 'the kids' dentist
Philly.com, March 25th

He also had an extensive collection of beer memorabilia, "which is ironic since he never had a beer in his life," his family said. Besides his son, Dr. Bresler is survived by his wife, Sherry Fletcher; another son, Jason; daughters Rachel Bresler...Read more

How good are Trader Joe's beers? Let's peek behind the label
Tampabay.com, March 25th

Unibroue also produces an annual vintage beer for TJ's, so be on the lookout. Trader Joe's ciders are quite decent. Henry Hotspur's Hard Pressed For Cider is back-sweetened with apple juice, as its clearly juice-like flavor reveals. The Newton's Folly...Read more

Beer Calendar: Colorado Craft Beer Week Continues at Denver Beer Co ...
Westword, March 25th

"Guests can bring in their vintage beer items for appraisals, buy and sell, and browse through the club's collection of classic beer cans and brewery swag." The third annual Hops + Handrails Beer Fest & Rail Jam, hosted by Left Hand Brewing in Longmont...Read more

Antiques column: Breweriana
Pocklington Post, March 19th

You don't have to be a collector to buy breweriana as a single item can be a focal point in a room but be warned, whereas one stone-glazed antique beer bottle may be an attractive ornament and acceptable to your other half, one from every brewery in...Read more

Vintage Beer? Aficionados Say Some Brews Taste Better With Age
NPR (blog), January 9th

In the late 1970s, a young Southern California beer enthusiast named Bill Sysak began doing something quite novel at the time. He bought cases of beer and stashed the bottles in his basement to age like wine. Over several years, Sysak discovered that ...Read more