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to look for when trying to date a potential war-era can, which should also have a statement on it that reads, "Withdrawn Free of Internal Revenue Tax for Exportation."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

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    

A+ Blatz Ale! 1936 Beer Can Irtp Rare Early Cone Top Milwaukee,wi.wisconsin StarFitger's Strong - Cone Top Beer Can @1937 - Duluth, Mn Colorful Cream Top Irtp O/i Irtp Flat Top Beer Can Manhattan Brewing ChicagoIncredible 1930's Schlitz Beer Cone Top Beer Can Countertop Light Up DisplayNice Butte,montana Special Cone Top Beer Can Gold High Profile 4% 1950's BeautyNice Irtp 1947 East-side Los Angeles,ca.california Cone Top Beer Can Eagle TowerOld St. Louis Select Flat Top Beer Can Lami Griesedieck Bros Brewery Missouri MoNice Schell's Deer Brand Cone Top Beer Can (3.2% Alcohol Content)Minty Frankenmuth "air Free" Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Frankenmuth, Mich. Tax CapKoenig Brau Premium Beer Quart Cone Top Beer Can+bottle Cap Chicago, Illinois Il Cooks Goldblume Steamboat Cone Top Beer Can Lamp, Evansville, Indiana W/shadeMint And Full National Bohemian Bock Flat Top Beer Can Baltimore Natty BohGold Medal Beer Flat Top Beer Can From Grace Brothers Brewing Co. Santa RosaEsslinger Parti Quiz Flat Top Beer Can Philadelphia Pennsylvania Little Man BankVery Rare Beverwyck Irish Brand Cream Ale Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Albany Ny W/capBurger Sparkling Ale Flat Top Beer Can Cincinnati Ohio Miracle Of Modern BrewingBen Brew Cone Top Irtp Columbus Oh Beer Can Franklin Brewing Flat RareRare 1930s Frederick's Pilsener J-spout Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Thornton,illinoisAlta Beer Flat Top Beer Can From Grace Brothers Brewing Co. ****los Angeles****Iron City Beer Select Quality Cap Sealed Cone Top Can Usbc 170-1 Pittsburgh PaFitgers Nordlager  beer  irtp Cone Top - Strong3 Dif Coors Golden Beer Flat Top Beer Cans Golden Colorado Irtp Export WaterfallSchmidt'sfirst Premium Cone TopHigher Grade White Cap Cone Top Beer Can (two Rivers Wisconsin)Iroquois Indian Head Cone Top Beer Can Iroquois Brewing Buffalo, Ny Nice CapCone Top, Irtp, Wagner’s Gambrinus, August Wagner Breweries Inc., Columbus, OhKrueger Cream Ale Beer Quart Cone Top Beer Can Newark New JerseyHigher Grade Aero Club Cone Top Beer Can (pocatello, Idaho)High Grade Golden Age Cone Top Beer Can (pocatello, Idaho)20 Grand Select Cream Ale  beer  cone Top -  tough Can - Non IrtpKrueger Cream Ale Non-oi Irtp Flat Top Beer Can Newark, New Jersey Nj G. Krueger2 Dif Buffalo Flat Top Beer Cans Sacramento Los Angeles California Ca ~ SouthernCrest Extra Pale Premium Beer Flat Top Beer Can Crest Brewing ~ Chicago IllinoisMarlin White Label Light Dry Beer Flat Top Beer Can Orlando Florida Fl Fla 1950sCongress Light Beer Red Set Can Flat Top Beer Can Haberle ~ Syracuse New York Ny5 Flat Top Beer Can Camden Columbia Bullfrog California Gold Label Chief OshkoshBurkhardt's Master Blended Beer Flat Top Beer Can Akron Ohio Oh 1950s Since 1880Original Rainier Ale Old Stock Cone Top Beer Can Dated 4-8-39Cook's Goldblume Beer Flat Top Beer Can F.w. Cook Evansville, Indiana Vanity LidIron City Beer Irtp Cone TopHohenadel Beer  irtp Cone TopSenate Beer Can Irtp Washington Dc Beautiful !Hamm's Beer Oi Flat Top Beer Can Theo Hamm St Paul Minnesota Opening InstructionSchmidt City Club  beer  cone TopHigh Grade Cold Spring Cone Top Beer Can (cold Spring, Minnesota)Hamm's Beer Baltimore Maryland Super Clean Flat Top Beer Can ~ "sky Blue Waters"2 Dis Burger Sparkling Ale Flat Top Beer Can Cincinnati Ohio Green+black LettersBen Brew Beer  cone TopWooden Shoe Cone Top Beer Can (minster, Ohio)**tough C.1950s Chief Oshkosh Hp Cone Top Beer Can From Oshkosh, WiScarce Old Reading Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Tavern Trove Reading Neuweiler Cream Ale+light Lager Flat Top Beer Cans Allentown, Pennsylvania Louis2 Dif Metz Beer Flat Top Beer Can Omaha Nebraska ~ Supreme Premium Neb. Ne CrownPearl Draft Pull Tab Beer Can By Pearl Brewing Co. San Antonio, TxHigher Grade Genuine Oltimer Cone Top Beer Can (belleville, Illinois)Higher Grade Rhinelander Export Cone Top Beer Can (rhinelander, Wisconsin)Beautiful Fitger's Cone Top Beer Can - Hard To FindGorgeous Royal Bohemian Strong Cone Top Beer Can - Usbc 182-26Mug Genuine Nut Brown Ale Flat Top Beer Can Burger Brewing Cincinnati Ohio 1950sNational Bohemian Pale Beer Cone Top Can Baltimore Md W/ Cap High Grade Ex

Recent News: Beer Cans

Source: Google News

Visting the Pike Brewing Co., May 19th

These items will soon join the already crowded walls of the brewery, what is known as the Breweriana Museum, which gets just as much attention from visitors as the beer in their glasses. Finkel regularly searches catalogs, antique shops, the internet...Read more

Women Beer Rock! fundraiser, Hofbrauhaus events, more - beer calendar (blog), May 18th

Sunday, July 12: The Lake Erie chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America will hold its 30th annual summer breweriana show 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Ottawa Point Picnic Area of Cleveland Metroparks' Brecksville Reservation. Free admission. The show...Read more

Tempe Tavern
Phoenix New Times, May 16th

The kitschy, bottle-cap-covered walls by the bathroom, vintage beer signs, and full stage all point to a bar that has an identity all its own, with an old-school, relaxed feel. Located just off the Apache/McClintock light-rail stop and across the...Read more

American Homebrewers Association to rally Saturday in Gadsden, May 14th

For more information, click here. Elsewhere, the taps will be flowing beginning Friday night in several Art of Beer events. Attendees at the festival on Saturday can sample more than 30 craft beers and bid on beer memorabilia in a silent auction. There...Read more

Vintage beer sign discovered in downtown wall
Columbus Telegram, May 7th

Jeff Gokie, who owns Henry on 11th Reception & Banquet Hall in downtown Columbus, holds a tin sign, possibly from the 1930s, advertising Blatz Old Heidelberg Beer. Gokie found the sign inside a wall while renovating the building. 2015-05-07T08:00:00Z ...Read more

Breweriana show held; Cleveland 'seriously considered' for national convention ... (blog), May 3rd

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A gathering of breweriana enthusiasts celebrated more than just old beer cans Sunday. It was Cleveland history that remained in the nostalgic spotlight that soon might bring the city national attention. The Lake Erie chapter of the...Read more

Annual collectibles show preserves the history of local breweries
La Crosse Tribune, April 29th

That experience includes hundreds of diverse beer cans in column-like displays throughout the restaurant, an assortment of neon signs that capture the attention of visitors, and a variety of other breweriana spotlighting the city of La Crosse. Johnson...Read more

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