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to look for when trying to date a potential war-era can, which should also have a statement on it that reads, "Withdrawn Free of Internal Revenue Tax for Exportation."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

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    

Incredible 1930's Schlitz Beer Cone Top Beer Can Countertop Light Up DisplaySchmidt's First Premium Graphic Irtp Old Cone Top Beer Can Burger Ale Cone Top Beer Can Burger Brewing Cincinnati Ohio Oh With Crown CapScarce Leidig’s Pilsner Style Beer Outdoor Oi Irtp Flat Top Beer CanIron City Cone Top Beer CanNeuweiler's Pilsner Beer Cone Top Beer Can Allentown, Pa - Rare!!!!Valley Brew Cone Top Beer CanKrueger Finest Oi/irtp Flat Top Beer CanHighlander Beer Cone Top Beer CanRare Kuebler Pilsner Beer Can Cone Top Easton PennsylvaniaNice Krueger Beer Early Irtp Old Cone Top Beer Can Champagne Velvet Beer Cone Top - Cv-52  enjoy It!A+white Old Topper Snappy Ale J-spout Cone Top Beer Can+bottle Cap Irtp New YorkClean Bub's Winona, Mn Old Cone Top Beer Can Old Topper Snappy Ale Crowntainer Cone Top Beer Can & Cap Rochester, New YorkChampagne Velvet Beer Cone Top - Cv-52  try It!Champagne Velvet Beer Cone Top - Cv-52  for Me!Meister Brau Fiesta Flat Top Beer CanOld Reading Beer Gus Blue J-spout Cone Top Beer CanGenesee 12 Horse Ale Irtpinstructional Flattop A1+ Beer CanHarvard Ale Flat Top Beer CanBurger Beer Non-irtp Hi Profile Cone Top Beer Can Cincinnati Ohio Oh Cinci 1950sNos Rare Vintage Harley Davidson Two Cycle Motor Oil Full Cone Top Can ~ L@@k ~Fort Pitt Beer Olive Drab Crowntainer Cone Top Can Pittsburgh Pa Withdrawn FreeWunderbrau Flat Top Beer Can (wunderbrau Brewing Co. Cincinnati Oh).Koehler Select 12 Oz, Cone Top Beer Can, Erie, Pa Usbc 171-279 Different Flat Top Beer Cans ......{ Lot # 2 }( Check Out My Other Lots )Paul Bunyan Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-waukesha, Wi.Milwaukee Club Cone Top Beer Can ~ No Cone Old Tap Brand Ale Cone Top Beer CanRoyal Bohemian Duluth, Mn Old Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Dawsons Premium Quality Ale Flat Top Beer CanVintage Richbrau Cone Top Beer Can / Empty / 422-422Stag Beer Irtp Cone TopDawson's Premium Quality Ale Cone Top Beer CanBurger Bohemain Beer Irtp Cone Top3 Vintage Pabst Blue Ribbon Steel Flat Top Beer Cans Bartels Pure Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-edwardsville, Pa.Kings Taste Beer Can VintageAntique Krueger Cream Ale Quart Cone Top K Man Beer Can - Old New Jersey BreweryStag Beer Cone TopVintage Old Milwaukee Pale Gold Beer Can,flat Top,punch Top,Old Topper Snappy Ale Cone TopChampagne Velvet Beer Irtp Cone Top - America's BeerOld German Flat Top Beer Can (eagle Brewing Co. Catasauqua Penna.)Gipps Amberlin Cone Top Beer CanHigher Grade Big Sky Pull Top Beer Can (great Falls Montana)Griesedieck Bros.teal Green Flat Top Beer Can ( St Louis Missouri)Griesedieck Bros. Blue Flat Top Beer Can. (st. Louis Missouri)Nice 1930's Ballantine's Ale Irtp Flat Top Beer Can W/opening InstructionsRainier Special Export Beer Cone TopBlack Dallas Malt Liquor Flat Top Beer CanHan's Leeber Brew Flat Top Beer Can (maier Brewing Co. Los Angeles Calif.)Cook's 500 Ale Cone Top Beer CanEdelweiss Secret Brew Irtp Cone TopPriest 2011 Sci-fi Vampire Movie Production Used Aluminum Beer Can PropBlackhawk Premium Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-cleveland, Oh.Pfeiffer "ship" Flat Top Beer Can Dull ToneOld Crown Beer Oi Flat Top Beer Can (centlivre Brewing Corp. Fort Wayne Ind.)Old Fashioned Beer Crowntainer Cone Top, Northhampton Brewery Corp.,pennsylvania

Recent News: Beer Cans

Source: Google News

How much of BA do you use?
BeerAdvocate.com, April 27th

I was having a BM conversation with another BA a few days ago, and we both mentioned that we, not being big traders, rarely went to the trading forums. That got me thinking, and basically I check Beer Talk, and the NW forum regularly. The Breweriana...Read more

MadTree collaboration brews, Cleveland Beers in the Round, more - beer calendar
cleveland.com (blog), April 27th

Sunday, May 3: The Lake Erie chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America will hold a show featuring breweriana (all things beer: cans, signs, trays, openers, nostalgia, more) at the Hermit Club in Hofbrauhaus, 1550 Chester Ave., Cleveland. The...Read more

Inaugural Art of Beer & Alabama State Homebrew Competition set for May 16
Gadsden Times, April 22nd

Food will be available to purchase, there will be a silent auction and those attending also can view the Art of Beer breweriana collection on display in the Hardin Center's Kathy Chan Exhibition Hall. Those attending also will receive a commemorative...Read more

Milwaukee's Coolest Offices: 'Cool lounge,' Pabst memorabilia part of Colliers ...
Milwaukee Business Journal, April 22nd

A "cool" lounge and beer memorabilia. What more could you ask for in an office? Those are just two of the highlights of Colliers International/Wisconsin's offices located in the former Pabst Brewing Co. complex in downtown Milwaukee. See the attached ...Read more

Art of Beer sampling festival set for May 16 at Gadsden's Hardin Center
AL.com, April 21st

Attendees can sample more than 30 craft beers and bid on beer memorabilia in a silent auction. There will ... Brooks said there will be a breweriana collection on display from collectors around the state spotlighting beer and brewery memorabilia. "We...Read more

Brewery collectibles club sets local convention, aims to attract national show
cleveland.com, April 16th

Brane said the hobby is healthy here in Cleveland for a local troika of reasons: Clevelanders' interest in nostalgia and history, the current craft-beer revolution, and the fascination in the artistic side of breweriana. Young people in particular, he...Read more

Drink Up: Delilah's Hosts Vintage Beer Fest Sunday
Chicagoist, April 11th

The Vintage Beer Fests (which happen about five times a year) each focus on a specific style of beer. This weekend's edition will be the fourth annual one devoted to barrel-aged brews. The idea behind these events, according to owner Mike MIller, isn't...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