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to look for when trying to date a potential war-era can, which should also have a statement on it that reads, "Withdrawn Free of Internal Revenue Tax for Exportation."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

Red Fox Ale Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Cap Largay Brew Waterbury Connecticut Conn CtRare Dawson's Ale Irtp Lo-pro Cone Top Beer Can Dawson's Brewing Mass. Orig CapVintage Mcewan's Red Label Sparkling Beer Cone Top Can, Edinburgh ScotlandRheingold Beer Quart Cone Top Can Liebmann Breweries New York Ny 218-08 **sweet*Scarce Krueger 16oz Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Krueger Brewing Newark, Nj Orig CapRolling Rock Cone Top Beer Can, Latrobe Brewing Co., Latrobe, PennsylvaniaHudepohl Chevy 85 Ale Flat Top Beer Can Vanity Lid Hudy Cincinnati Ohio Oh 1950sMile Hi Beer Super Clean Flat Top Beer Can Tivoli Denver Colorado Rocky MountainDuquesne Wwii "olive Drab" Withdrawn Free Of Tax Cone Top Beer Can Pittsburgh PaWaldorf Lager Beer Can With Instructional Flat TopSchlitz Vitamin D Irtp Low Profile 12oz Cone Top Beer Can Milwaukee WiVintage Cooks 500 Ale Beer CanRare Collectable Iroquois Indian Head "cone Top Beer Can"Krueger Pint Conetop Irtp Beer Can NiceHeileman Old Style Beer  cone TopFox Head Aged Xxxx Stout Malt Liquor Flat Top Beer Can Waukesha, Wisconsin Wisc.Hoosier Conetop Beer Can- South Bend, IndianaPabst Beer Quart Cone Top Snap Cap Cans Display Sign(9) Different 12oz Schmidt Draft Scene Pull Top Beer Cans (st. Paul Minn.)Krueger Cream Ale Oi Irtp Flat Top Beer Can Newark New Jersey Nj G Krueger K-manCone Top Beer CansBuckeye Pilsener Type Cone Top Beer Can (toledo Ohio)Buccaneer Flat Top Beer Can! Argh, Matey!!Cone Top Beer CansDave Matthews Band - Maryland Heights / St. Louis, Mo Beer Can Poster - 7/15/15Grand Prize Irtp Flat Top Beer Can In All Original Indoor Shape! Shiney!Carling's Red Cap Ale Cone Top Beer Can Brewing Corp America Cleve Ohio Orig CapSchmidt's First Premium Graphic Irtp Old Cone Top Beer Can Cone Top Beer CansAltes "brisk" Cone Top Beer Can Altes Brewing Detroit, Mich. Nice Original CapOld German Cone Top Beer Can (cumberland Md.)Oertel's Real Draft Beer Pull Tab Beer Can Oertel Brewing Co Louisville KentuckyRare Ballantine Half Quart King Size Handy 16 Beer Can Coin BankPabst Bock12oz Flat Top Beer Can Milwaukee WiBarbarossa Irtp Cone Top Beer Can Cincinnati Ohio Red Top Brewing Oh Antique New Old Dutch Flat Top Beer Can (catasauqua.penna)Franken Muth Pull Top Beer Can (findlay Ohio)Schaefer Beer Irtp Flat Top Beer Can F&m Schaefer Brooklyn New York Nyc Ny 1940sKrueger Finest Beer Quart Cone Top Can Newark New Jersey 214-01 **minty**Clean Burgemeister Cone Top Beer Can Warsaw Brewing Warsaw Ill Nice Original CapOertel's 92 Cone Top Beer Can-oertel Brewing. Co., Louisville, Ky.Old Topper Snappy Ale Crowntainer Cone Top Beer Can + Cap Rochester, New York NyVintage Very Nice Guinness Straight Beer Can 9 2/3 OzBruck's Jubilee Irtp Cone Top Crowntainer Beer Can Brewed In Cincinnati, OhioPeerless High Profile Cone Top Beer Can + Bottle Cap Lacrosse, Wisconsin Wisc WiOld Style Irtp 12oz Cone Top Beer Can G Heileman Lacrosse WiWaldbaum's Beer "store Brand" Pull Tab Beer Can Eastern Hammonton, New Jersey NjGlacier Light Beer Flat Top Beer Can Maier Brewing Los Angeles, California CalifBudweiser King Of Beers Lighted Beer Can Unique Sign: Size 7" X 7.5"Old Craft Brew Flat Top Beer CanVintage 1940's Falstaff Beer Cone Top Can Bottle 15" Cardboard SignVintage Old Topper Snappy Ale J Spout Rochester Ny Irtp Cone Top Beer CanCream Top Irtp/oi 12oz Flat Top Beer Can Whitewater WiNice Atlas Prager Flat Top Beer Can, Atlas Brewing Co., Chicago, IllinoisRare Vintage Ruppert Knickerbocker Flat Top Beer Can Old Style Old Reading Flat Top Beer Can12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can , " Paul Bunyan " , Wisconsin Gretz - Gb Fleet Car Flat Top Beer CanOld German Beer Cone TopSchmidt's City Club "irtp" Flat Top Beer Can

Recent News: Beer Cans

Source: Google News

Essay: Pabst Returns to Milkwaukee, Where It Belongs
Valley News, July 28th

In its time away, PBR had the unexpected good fortune to fill a drinking niche — the vintage beer — that could just as easily belong to Hamm's, Milwaukee's Best or Stroh's. If it weren't for the hipsters, Pabst would be just another forgotten local...Read more

Brewing Boomed In Pre-Prohibition Pittsfield, July 26th

Bottles, openers, and other memorabilia bearing the Berkshire Brewing Association or Gimlich & White labels are considered somewhat valuable among collectors of breweriana, though they are common enough that they do not command high prices ...Read more

Cellaring and aging craft beer is industry's new frontier Press, July 25th

Patrick Dawson, the local author of "Vintage Beer: A Taster's Guide to Brews that Improve over Time," said aging beer is "the next frontier that people are looking for." "There are flavors ... that you are typically not going to encounter in a fresh...Read more

Sikorski's Attic 7/26/2015: Beer taps popular among 'Breweriana' enthusiasts
Citrus County Chronicle, July 24th

Dear John: I have this old beer tap. Under the handle it says “The Cleveland Faucet Company.” We bought it at a garage sale a couple of years ago. While a friend was visiting us, he saw it and really liked it. He suggested we send you a photograph...Read more

A Thought to Remember: Highland Brewing Co. was twice called Schott Brewing Co.
Belleville News-Democrat, July 24th

The Schott Brewery History written by Kevin Kious and Donald Roussin and published in the American Breweriana Journal was given to me in 2007 by Karlheinz Zolk of Langenbrucken, Germany. Karlheinz was a distant cousin of Edward Zolk, and he visited ...Read more

Revolution, Half Acre Cans Sold as 'Vintage' At Grand Rapids Antique Shop
DNAinfo, July 20th

Two Chicago beer cans included in a collection of "antique" and "vintage" beer cans — and priced for $5 each. [Chris Woods]. Former Chicagoan Chris Woods, now a Michigan resident, was visiting Eastown Antiques over the weekend when he spotted two ...Read more

Meet collectors of beer memorabilia June 13 in Mesa, June 2nd

On Saturday, June 13, a beer-collectibles show is scheduled as part of the American Breweriana Association annual meeting. The show will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel, 200 N. Centennial Way in Mesa, and will feature such items as cans, ...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