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to look for when trying to date a potential war-era can, which should also have a statement on it that reads, "Withdrawn Free of Internal Revenue Tax for Exportation."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

Quart-irtp-old Missouri Brand Cone Top Beer Can-prima Brewing-chicago IllinoisVery Rare Busch Flat Top Beer Can1930's Gluek's Pilsner Pale Minneapolis Brewing Low Profile Cone Top Can1937 Syracuse,new York Haberle's Congress Cone Top Beer Can Ny N.y Irtp Low ProBallantine Olive Drab 12 Oz Flat Top Beer Can Wwii Ballantine Brewing Newark, NjGolden Brau Ale 12 Oz Flat Top Beer Can Harvard Brewing Lowell, Ma Metallic NiceRare Superb 1940’s Canadian Black Horse Ale Cone Top Beer Not Bottle Montreal Ultra Rare Strong White Bear Flat Top Beer CanVintage Rare Yuengling Cone Top Beer Can Quart Size Pottsville PaGrain Belt Gold Metallic Cone Top Beer Can- Minneapolis,mn.Ballantine Triple Crown Malt Liquor 12 Oz Pull Tab Beer Can Ballantine Newark NjBurger Brau Cone Top Beer Can Irtp 155-31 Empty Cincinnati OhioFalstaff Draft Fan Tab Top Beer Can-st Louis MissouriNot Listed-burgietest Beer Can-theodore Hamm Company-st Paul Minnesota-sfRed Ribbon Wausau, Wisconsin Old Cone Top Beer CanJames Bond's 007 Beer Can 12 Oz Pulltab Nb 595 National Brewing Co. Phoenix Az.Rare Hop Gold Beer Opening Instruction Flat Top Beer CanClean Graphic Haberle Congress Old Flat Top Beer CanHoosier Beer Cone Top Can Nice With Cap IndianaRheingold Bock 12 Oz Flat Top Beer Can Liebmann Brew. Orange Nj Dancing GoatsBeautiful Pabst Blue Ribbon Genuine Dry Ale Flat Top Beer Can From Milwaukee WisJames Bond's 007 Beer Can 12 Oz Pulltab Nb 599 National Brewing Co. Phoenix Az.B & B Low Profile Old Cone Top Beer CanFox Deluxe Oi Flattop Beer Can- Peter Hand Brewing-chicago, Il. Barrel Of Blatz Beer Can - Display Pull Tab-Sick's Select Brew 66 Vintage Flat Top Beer Can 1/1+1950 Quart Cone Top Extra Beer Can Old German Queen City Cumberland,md MarylandSweet Zip Tab Top Genesee Famous 12 Horse Ale Ss Beer Can Rochester New York NyAll American 12 0z Flat Top Beer Can Drewerys South Bend, Dist. By Atlas BrewingKrueger Cream Ale Flat Top Beer Can Usbc 89-27 Newark, NjSchmidt Select Cone Top Beer Can L184-23 Empty St Paul Mn * Not In Book *Nascar #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr.cone Top Beer Can Man Cave Budweiser Racing Sports12 Different Quart Cone Top Beer CansUnusual Near Mint Green Goet Country Club Lager Beer Cone Top Can Tavern TroveRare Sb Southern Brewing Company (tampa Fl) Beer Cone Top Can, Bottle Cap, Irtp Rainier Special Export Vintage Cone Top Beer Can1950's Miller High Life Flat Top Beer Can "black" Milwaukee WisconsinStraight Eight Old Cone Top Beer CanLucky Strike Cola Cone Top Soda CanD.g.yuengling Red 1950s Cone Top*better Beer*can 1829 Pottsville,pa.pennsylvaniaKingsbury Aristocrat Of Beer Crown Top Beer Can (eb050)Antique Beer CanLucky Strike Creme Soda Cone Top Soda CanLucky Strike Orange Cone Top Soda CanMint Schell's Golden 16 Pint Beer Can- New Ulm, Mn.Lucky Strike Ginger Ale Cone Top Soda CanStoney`s Pilsener Cone Top Beer Can. Jones Brewing Co. Smithton, Pa.Andreas Beer - Flat Top Empty Beer Can - GermanyLucky Strike Root Beer Cone Top Soda CanBillings Tap Old Cone Top Beer CanLucky Strike Strike Up Cone Top Soda CanVintage Falstaff Cardboard Stand Up Sign 1940s 1930s Cone Top Cans Diecut 32x27Heidelberg Vintage 16 Oz Flat Top Beer Can 1/1+Beck's Exportbier- Flat Top Empty Beer Can - GermanyHard To Find Donald Duck Orange Soda Cone Top - Pre Zip 1952Schlitz 12oz Cone Top Beer Can Higher Grade!! With Cap Irtp!Faslstaff Cone Top Beer Can 161-28 Irtp Empty St Louis MoVintage "paul Bunyan" Flat Top Beer Can - Waukesha - Marshfield, Wis.L*rare* Beverwyck Export Withdraw Free Ww 2 Era Old Cone Top Beer Can

Recent News: Beer Cans

Source: Google News

'What's On Tap?' opening event
Marquette Mining Journal, April 18th

From the saloons of yesteryear to today's modern brew pubs and hobby brewing, it explores the lives of the people involved in creating a driving force of social life in the U.P.. Items on display include photos, historic breweriana and modern brewers...Read more

Vintage beer and breakfast highlight Rhody's weekend food events
The Providence Journal, April 17th

It's Easter weekend so there aren't a lot of events as people take some family time but there are some fun food and drink events. Most notable is Julian's Vintage Beer Dinner Sunday night and Slocum Grange's Saturday breakfast. Julians, 318 Broadway ...Read more

Go Play Calendar
Montgomery Advertiser, April 17th

Spring Fling Brewery Collectibles Show: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Railyard Brewing Co., 12 W. Jefferson St.This show and swap meet features “breweriana” — all kinds of beer-related advertising, packaging and equipment. Patrons are invited to bring ...Read more

Kent-area community calendar | April 17
Kent Reporter, April 17th

Great old bottles, jars, glassware, insulators, advertising collectibles, breweriana, photos, pottery and much more. Early buyer admission $5 on May 16; fREE admission on May 17. Sixth annual Kent International Festival: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and 7-10 p.m...Read more

Vintage Beer Ads
Paste Magazine, April 17th

You can learn a lot about a country by studying its print beer ads. Take a look at the beer ads from the '40s, '50s and '60s. For those three decades, it was obvious that we liked our guys in hats, and our women in dresses (preferably in the kitchen...Read more

Vintage Beer Hits the Mainstream
Portland Monthly, April 16th

In Patrick Dawson's new book Vintage Beer: A Taster's Guide to Brews that Improve Over Time, the North Denver Tribune's beer columnist sings the praises of cellaring beer and aims to prove old beers are the best beers. Before reading on, a caveat...Read more

Beer on the move
Providence.thephoenix, April 16th

The store will have a 23-door custom beer cooler, a climate-controlled vintage beer room, and a high-end scotch and whiskey room in a walk-in safe. The opening is slated for late May/early June; check their Facebook page for updates and the grand...Read more

Sushi demos at Shaw's; guide to vintage beer
Windy City Times, April 2nd

—Shaw's Sushi Chef Naoki Nakashima, an authority on Japanese cuisine and etiquette, will lead interactive Japanese sushi demonstrations at Shaw's Chicago on Saturday, April 26, and Saturday, May 31. Both of the classes will take place 12-3 p.m. The ...Read more