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to look for when trying to date a potential war-era can, which should also have a statement on it that reads, "Withdrawn Free of Internal Revenue Tax for Exportation."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

What could be better than a beautifully rusted antique beer can? How about Mark Benbow’s handsome 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]

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    

Rainier Export Beer+stock Ale Irtp 1939cone Top Cans San Francisco,ca.californiaGreat Lakes Flat Top Beer Can Schoenhofen Edelweiss Company Chicago Illinois Bull Dog Ale Flat Top Beer Can Grace Bros Brewing Company Santa Rosa Ca Indoor Pabst Blue Ribbon Bock Flat Top Beer Can Milwaukee Wisconsin Indoor Can Nice!!Krueger Cream Ale, Quart Cone Top Beer CanDuquesne Can O Beer Olive Drab Cone Top - Duquesne Brewing Co., Pittsburgh, PaCone Top Beer Can Tru Blu Ale 10 OzEsslinger Premium Beer Quart Cone Top Beer Can Near Mint Philadelphia, PaRainier Flat Top Beer Can Jubilee Sick's Spokane Brewery Washington Pink CanKrueger Cream Ale Irtp Quart Rare Vintage Cone Top Beer CanRare Clean 1939 Worlds Fair Ballantine's Ale Beer Can Tavern TroveSheridan Export Flat Top Beer Can Walter Brewing Pueblo Colorado Indoor CanSchmidt Scenic Buffalo Vintage Flat Top Beer Can A1+Cone Top Beer Can Chief Oshkosh Supreme Pilsener BeerRainier Old Stock Ale Flat Top Beer Can Sick's Seattle Brewing Washington IndoorEsslinger's Little Man Ale Irtp Quart Vintage Cone Top Beer Can Unrolled Flat Prototype Beer Can - Falls Velvet - Falls Brewing - Fergus MinnPearl Lager Flat Top Beer Can Pearl Brewing Company San Antonio Texas Indoor CanMurphy's Ale Cone Top - Star Brewing Co., Boston, Mass.Cone Top Beer Can Abc Famous BeerSchmidt Scenic Geese Vintage Flat Top Beer Can 1/1+Old Topper Snappy Ale Crowntainer Cone Top Beer Can+cap ~ Rochester, New York NyTivoli Flat Top Beer Can Tivoli Brewing Co Denver Colorado Indoor Can 1958 Rare Black Horse Ale Cone Top Beer Can Dawes Brewery, Montreal, Canada Orig CapBallantine's Beer Oi Flat Top Beer Can Newark New Jersey Nj Opening InstructionsCone Top Beer Can Grain Belt Strong Premium BeerOld Reading Beer * Cone Top Beer Can Reading Pa BrewerySouthern Select Flat Top Beer Can Galveston Houston Breweries Galveston Texas TxVery Tough '76 Ale Cone Top Beer Can (usbc # 185-11 ) Terre Haute, In.Ruser Flat Top Beer CanRainier Jubilee Flat-top Beer Can - 12 Ounce- Spokane, WashingtonCone Top Beer Can White Seal Strong BeerTivoli Flat Top Beer Can Tivoli Union Co Denver Colorado Indoor Can 1951 Indoor Cone Top Beer Can Blatz Pilsener BeerRare Cerveza Cristal "pre-castro Cuba" Flat Top Beer Can Marianao, CubaLone Star Flat Top Beer Can Lone Star Brewing Co San Antonio Texas Indoor Can TxCone Top Beer Can Buckeye Export BeerCone Top Beer Can Hudepohl Pure Lager BeerMeister Brau Antique Beer Can 1955Cone Top Beer Can Glasgo Select BeerBeverwyck Irish Brand Cream Ale, Quart Cone Top Beer CanCone Top Beer Can Fitger's Natural Strong BeerEdelweiss Irtp Quart Vintage Cone Top Beer Can 1/1+Rare Krueger Ale Quart Cone Top Beer Can Krueger Brewing Newark, Nj Original CapCone Top Beer Can Wiedemann Beer CrowntainerBen Brew Beer Cone Top - Columbus , OhioBlatz Old Heidelberg Irtp Vintage Cone Top Beer CanRare 1950s Orange Crush Old Colony Ginger Ale Cone Top Tavern Trove CanadaState Fair Vintage Flat Top Beer Can A1+Bavarians Old Style Vintage Cone Top Beer CanVintage Burger Beer Cone Top Beer Can, Ohio, Very Nice Can!!!Fitger's Rex Beer Dnc More Than 3.2% Cone Top - Fitger Brewing Co., Duluth, Mn Rare Black Horse Ale Cone Top Beer Can National Breweries Ltd, Canada Nice CapTough Genesee 12 Horse Ale Oi Irtpf Flat Top Beer Can Tavern TroveCkean! 1950s Fitzgerald's Pale Ale Beer Can Tavern Trove Troy New YorkCone Top Beer Can Old Style Lager BeerBerghoff 1887 Vintage Cone Top Beer CanKrueger Baldy Flat Top Beer Can Long Opener Oi 'krueger's' Rare Brucks Jubilee Ale Irtp Cone Top Crowntainer Beer Can Cinci, Oh Tax CapRare Buckeye Ale Beer Cone Top Grade 1/1+ Nr 3 Days W/ Low Buy It Now!!

Recent News: Beer Cans

Source: Google News

Upcoming meetings and events
Topeka Capital Journal, September 20th

Information: 232-2032, or 20th annual Beer Can and Breweriana show, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, Crestview Shelter House, 4901 S.W. Shunga Drive. Features beer cans, signs and man cave stuff; ...Read more

Song for Jim Kupferschmidt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (blog), September 19th

and his brother founded an annual picnic for descendants of those who once lived on the island. He collected beer memorabilia and a lot of other things too, according to his cousin, Barara Suter. He loved the Beatles and had a vast collection of...Read more

'Breweriana' Show Reveals Pennsylvania History
State College News, September 13th

Jim Dickel, a “breweriana” collector from Mount Savage, Maryland, got his start collecting almost 40 years ago when he and a friend stole a pair of antique beer thermometers from the bar where they worked. They were from the Old German and Old Export ...Read more

Wool uniforms, no gloves and vintage beer recipes: Recreating 19th century ...
National Post, September 12th

PHILADELPHIA — From afar, it looks and sounds like a regular recreational baseball game: the crack of the bat, the cheering from the bench, the sliding into home. But a closer glance at this field in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park shows something isn't...Read more

Good food, brews on tap at the Erie Ale House, September 10th

Throughout you'll find framed collections of vintage beer cans used as art. My husband Doug and I stopped at the Erie Ale House recently for a quick weekday lunch. Doug chose the special of the day: Beef on Weck served with your choice of side for $5.95...Read more

Marz Community Brewing launches with a small space, a big crew, a great party ...
Chicago Reader, September 8th

At its current facility, Marz will top out at maybe 900 barrels a year, and that will require more fermentation vessels (which aren't in the cards till late this winter at the earliest). Mike Marszewski displays part of his vintage beer-can collection...Read more

White Owl set to stage first antiques festival
The Independent Tribune, September 3rd

Owl Fest antiques festival this Saturday and Sunday. There will also be old motorbikes, including a military bike, a Whizzer and a Simplex, as well as lots of neon vintage beer signs, old advertising signs and a working Lance snack machine from the...Read more

Four new books for beer lovers
Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 27th

Patrick Dawson's book “Vintage Beer”(Storey Publishing, $14.95) answers these questions and more. Dawson outlines the characteristics that make beer suitable for aging — think malt-forward and high-alcohol — and provides several examples of...Read more