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to look for when trying to date a potential war-era can, which should also have a statement on it that reads, "Withdrawn Free of Internal Revenue Tax for Exportation."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

Incredible 1930's Schlitz Beer Cone Top Beer Can Countertop Light Up DisplayRare Pre-castro Cerveza Hatuey Cone Top Beer Can Brewed In Santiago De CubaExcellent Weber Cone Top Beer Can Wisconsin BreweryFitgers Natural Strong Beer Duluth Minn Rare Irtp Version Cone Top Can Red StarClean "indoor Games" All Original Pink Rainier Jubilee Seattle Flat Top Beer CanVintage Red Top Brewing Red Top Cone Top Beer Can Cincinnati Ohio Vintage Esslinger Qt Recipe Cone Top Ale CanOktoberfest Alpine All Original Pink Rainier Jubilee Seattle Flat Top Beer CanLebanon Valley 12 Oz. Cone Top Beer Can-lebanon, Pa.Deep Blue Paul Bunyan All Original Rainier Jubilee Seattle Flat Top Beer CanKrueger Kent Ale Beer Can - #87-31 (last One)Harvard Brewing Ale Instructional Oi 381 Flat Top Beer Can Lowell Ma --clean!!!Bright Dawson's Gold Crown Cone Top Irtp Beer Can Dawson's Brewery Mass Orig CapHeileman Old Style Beer  cone TopBudweiser Withdrawn Free "oi" Flat Top Beer Can - A72Pabst Blue Ribbon Export Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-opening InstructionsEsslinger Premium Ale Quart 1++ Cone Top Beer CanOld Bohemian Bock Flat Top Beer Can 12 Oz Eastern Beverage Corp, Hammonton, NjNice Red Top Ale Cone Top Beer Can Usbc 181-2Old Fitgers Beer Cone Top CanTru Blu Cone Top Beer CanRare Champagne Velvet 12 Oz. Wwii Olive Drab Cone Top Beer Can-terre Haute, In.Scarce Grenay Malt Lager 12 Oz. Zip Top Pull Top Beer CanCroft Champion Ale Flat Top Beer Can Narragansett Cranston Ri 52-34 -clean-Hull's Bock Beer Flat Top Beer Can From Connecticut Schmidt City Club Flat Top Beer Can - A54Nos 1935 Schlitz Lager Beer Cone Top Paper Banner Litho Sign Milwaukee WisconsinOld German 32 Oz.cone Top Beer Can Queen City Brewing Company Cumberland Md,Nice Fitgers Cone Top Beer Can Usbc 162-22Milwaukee Club Lp Cone Top Beer Can From Milwaukee, WisconsinBlatz English Type Ale Cone Top Beer Can No Reserve!Rare Gold Medal Lager Beer Oi Flat Top Beer Can From Indianapolis, Indiana Lot Of (6) Wiedemann Flat Top Beer Cans (check Photos And Description)Vintage Andreas Edel Pils Flat Top Beer Can Product Of GermanyLot Of 6 Cone Top Beer Cans (some Tough Labels)Red Fox Premium Flat Top Beer Can - A49Horton Beer 12 Oz. Pull Top Beer Can-trenton, Nj.Grain Belt Special 1/1+ Recent Wall Find Cone Top Beer CanKrueger Cone Top Beer CanCook`s Goldblume Cone Top Beer Can. F. W. Cook Co. Evansville Ind. Est. 1853.Blatz Milwaukee Beer Select Lager 1936 Version Cone Top Can Nice Graphics IrtpAntique Blatz Beer Sign Beer Can Man Guy Advertising Store Bar DisplayTwo Different Fox Deluxe Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Cans-waukesha, Wi.Hapsburg Brand Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-chicago, Il.Vintage Potosi 12 Oz. Cone Top Beer Can With Lid, Potosi, Wi, C.1950, NiceRanier Flat Top Beer Can Irtp/oi Usbc# 118-11Piel's Flat Top Irtp Beer Can, Usbc# 115-13 - New YorkRare Bluebonnet Beer Cone Top Tavern Trove Galveston HoustonFitger's Nordlander Strong Hp Cone Top Beer Can From Duluth, MinnesotaLot Of 6 Cone Top Beer Cans (including Rare Grain Lager)Burgemeister Pilsener Beer 12oz Cone Top Beer Can Warsaw Brewing Warsaw, IlinoisOld Colony Pale Dry Ginger Ale 12 Ounce Twelve Ounce Cone Top Soda Can Up Town Sparkling Clear Lemon Soda 12 Ounce Twelve Ounce Cone Top Soda Can Hull's Cream Ale Flat Top Beer Can From Connecticut Unlisted Gold Trim Schlitz Tall Boy Flat Top Beer Can Jos Schlitz Milwaukee WiscGilt Edge Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-trenton, Nj.Bala Club Pale Dry Ginger Ale 12 Ounce Twelve Ounce Cone Top Soda Can **sweet**Duquesne Brewing Can-o-beer Cone Top Can Pittsburgh Pa 159-28 Cap-sealed -nice-Rare Clicquot Club Ginger Ale Cone Top - Prezip 1938 - The First Soda Can Made!**tough C.1950s Unlisted N.o. 3.2% Kato Hp Indoor Cone Top From Mankato, Mn

Recent News: Beer Cans

Source: Google News

Weekend picks: Uncle Lar plays Zanies Rosemont
Chicago Daily Herald, January 30th

The Bullfrog Chapter of the BCCA Brewery Collectibles Club of America hosts its Super Bowl Sunday Beer Can and Breweriana Show at the American Legion Hall, 514 S. Main St., Wauconda. A variety of beer cans and other breweriana will be showcased...Read more

The Ultimate Boys' Night Out: Scientific Proof of the Benefits of Male Bonding
Forbes, January 29th

Get your apes together and head to the hundred-year-old Antica Birreria Peroni – the Peroni brewery's 'Antique Beer Hall,' a lovely Art Noveau emporium with fabulous steaks, sausages, kraut, and all the trimmings. Order the 'kilometer,' their special...Read more

Collectors Seek Vintage Beer Cans In Everyday Trash
WUFT, January 28th

This past weekend, though, Lesniak went to a special birthday party to find new keepsakes. Celebrating the beer can's 80th birthday on Jan. 24, Lesniak, 52, went to the Beer Can and Breweriana Show on Friday and Saturday in Orlando. It was hosted by...Read more

Rare and vintage beer tasting raises money for Pints for Prostates
Triangle Business Journal, January 26th

The Raleigh Rare & Vintage Beer Tasting draws in beer-lovers from all over the East Coast. "Actually, I ran a contest to try to see who came the furthest to get to this event," says Kulenic. The winner hailed from California, and Kulenic plans on...Read more

80 years in the making: Bluefield businessman collects vintage beer cans
Bluefield Daily Telegraph, January 24th

Charlie Cole, stands in front of a portion of his beer can collection at his home in Bluefield, Va. Friday. Posted: Saturday, January 24, 2015 4:30 am. 80 years in the making: Bluefield businessman collects vintage beer cans By BLAKE STOWERS Bluefield ...Read more

Brewery Collectibles Club holds Winterfest Breweriana Collectibles & Beer Cans ..., January 17th

Cans line the walls and tables at the Winterfest Breweriana Collectibles & Beer Cans Show on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, at the Dom Polski Hall, located off of North Linden Road in Flint. Thousands of items from classic soda and beer cans, tap handles to...Read more

A conversation with the author of 'Vintage Beer'
Daily Record, January 14th

We're now at a point in the U.S. where many of the new the breweries have been making beer for at least a generation. Having moved beyond the delicate and time sensitive lagers, its not uncommon to see many big boozy beers on shelves. While they are ...Read more

Vintage Beer? Aficionados Say Some Brews Taste Better With Age
GPB, 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