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to look for when trying to date a potential war-era can, which should also have a statement on it that reads, "Withdrawn Free of Internal Revenue Tax for Exportation."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

Dawson's Master Ale Cone Top Beer Can+bottle Cap King Diamonds New Bedford, MassFitzgerald's Garryowen Ale Crowntainer Cone Top Troy New York 193-28 -clean-Wehle Colonian Ale Diecut Flat Top Beer Can Sign West Haven Ct Dog Steins -rare-Jung Pilsener Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Random Lake Wisconsin 195-35 -nice-Dawson's Master Ale Cone Top Irtp Beer Can Dawson's Brewery Mass. Nice CapHoff-brau Brewing Golden Ale Crowntainer Cone Top Fort Wayne Indiana Star CrownMeister Brau Happy Days Set Can Flat Top Beer Can Skiing Ski Peter Hand, ChicagoFehr's Xl (racehorses) J-spout 12 Oz. Cone Top Beer Can-louisville, Ky.Rare Red Fox Cone Top Beer Can Largay Brewing Waterbury, Conn Nice Original CapOld Topper Ale Crowntainer Cone Top Can Tophat Rochester Brewing New York -rareVan Bek Light Lager Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Miami Valley Brewing Dayton OhioOld Topper Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Can Tophat Rochester Brewing New York -rareBudweiser Eagle Claw Oi Irtp Flat Top Beer Can Anheuser-busch St Louis Bud 1940sMinty Augustiner Cone Top Beer Can August Wagner Breweries Inc., Columbus, OhioScarce Bond Hill Premium Lager Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-cumberland, Md.Weber Waukesha Brewing Premium Flat Top Beer Can Wisconsin 144-31 --clean--Pull Tab Beer Can Blatz Barrel Test Can - Air SealedEsslinger's Little Man Ale Cone Top Can Great Condition 12ozBuckeye Pilsener 12 Oz. Cone Top Beer Can-toledo, OhioKrueger Finest Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Can Wilmington Deleware K-man 196-20Gerst 57 Crowntainer Cone Top Beer Can Nashville Tennesee Diamond 194-13Scarce Early 1950's Busch Lager Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-st. Louis, Mo.Old Reading Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Pennsylvania Dutch Bird Of Paradise 197-24Kuebler Brewing Pilsener Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Easton Mount Kisco Pa 196-24Pabst Blue Ribbon Bock Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-milwaukee, Wi.Washington Xx Pale Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Can Eagle Columbus Oh 199-23 -nice-Fort Sutter Opening Instruction Grace Brothers, Santa Rosa Flat Top Beer CanFrankenmuth Old English Brand Ale Cone Top Irtp With Crown Airfree GradeoneminusWacker Brewing Premium Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Eagle Lancaster PennsylvaniaCoors Beer Irtp Flat Top Beer Can Adolph Coors Golden Colorado Co Rocky MountainAlps Brau Beer Flat Top Beer Can ****minty**** Grace Brothers CaliforniaDuquesne Can-o-beer Olive Drab Withdrawn Free Wwii Era Cone Top Pittsburgh Stowe1940's Budweiser Lager Beer 12 Oz. Flat Top Beer Can-opening InstructionsFort Pitt Brewing Special Beer Crowntainer Cone Top 3.2-7% Pittsburgh Pa 194-11102 Continental Dark Juice Tab Beer Can ***minty*** Maier Los Angeles CaliforniaBullfrog Beer Flat Top Beer Can ***minty*** Monarch Brewing Of ChicagoOld Mission Beer Flat Top Beer Can ***sweet*** Los Angeles Brewing CaliforniaSouthern Select Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Can Galveston Houston Breweries TexasRare Ortlieb's Quart Cone Top Beer Can Ortlieb Brewing Philadelphia, Pa Orig CapFitzgerald's Lager Beer Crowntainer Cone Top Can Troy New York 194-05 -sharp-Scarce Old Ranger Beer 12 Oz. Pull Top Beer Can-trenton, New JerseyBohemian Club Boise Idaho Old Cone Top Beer CanDrewrys Purple Horoscope Set Can Sagittarius Scorpio Flat Top Beer Can S Bend InBallantine Extra Fine 32 Oz. Quart Giant Flat Top Beer Can Newark, New Jersey NjOld Reading Beer 12oz Cone Top Old Reading Brewery Inc Penn Tavern TrovePilser's Brewing Extra Dry Pilsener Beer Crowntainer Cone Top New York Ny 198-11Scarce Kuebler Pale Beer 12 Oz. Cone Top Beer Can-easton, Pa.Busch Bavarian Beer 16 Oz. Zip Top Pull Top Beer Can-los Angeles, Ca.Very Nice 1930's Hull's Cream Ale Flat Top Beer Can Wopening InstructionsChampagne Velvet Blue Set Can Flat Top Beer Can Terre Haute Indiana Cv Ind 1950sRare Vintage Original Pabst Ft Bock Beer Flat Top- Pabst Brewing Co. Beer CanKrueger Light Lager Flat Top 12oz. Beer CanVintage Cone Top Empty Beer Can / Richbrau / 1119-12163 Dif Cone Top Beer Can Red Top Krueger Champagne Velvet Cv Ohio Nj Indiana CansCone Top Can Weber WaukeshaScarce Gibbons Premium Quality Beer 12 Oz. Cone Top Beer Can-wilkes-barre, Pa.Rare "double Buckeye" Cone Top Beer Can Buckeye Brewing Toledo, Oh Original CapStag Cone Top Beer Can - G26Hard To Find Pilser's Cone Top Beer Can W/ Original Cap Usbc 179-14Canadian Ace Draft Flat Top Beer Can Chicago Ilinois Wings 48-17 -clean-

Recent News: Beer Cans

Source: Google News

Girls' Night Out, Western Reserve Historical Society's Somewhere in Time ..., December 18th

Silent auction includes specialty and barrel-aged beers, gift cards, beer memorabilia and verticals of rare beers. Benefits Malachi House of Hope, a Cleveland-based hospice-oriented organization that serves the terminally ill and receives no government ...Read more

Portland restaurant and bar events -- Week of 12/17 - 12/23, December 17th

Vintage Beer Program and Holiday Fundraiser at Saraveza: Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern will be launching a vintage beer program selling barrel-aged beer from all over the world. Starting Dec. 1, Saraveza will also begin their vintage beer holiday ...Read more

Bill Meck, LEX18 Chief Meteorologist
LEX18 Lexington KY News, December 17th

The chances are good that your child or one you know has had a visit from LEX18 18 Storm Tracker Chief Meteorologist Bill Meck. Since arriving in Lexington way back in 1999 Bill has seen over 50,000 Kentucky kids with his Bill's Weather 101 presentations...Read more

Saraveza launches Vintage Beer Program and Holiday Fundraiser
The Daily Meal, November 26th

saraveza-logo Portland favorite beer bar Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern is launching a vintage beer program selling barrel aged beer from all over the world, and starting December 1, Saraveza will begin their vintage beer holiday fundraiser...Read more

Watch Mike Nichols' Vintage Beer Ads, November 22nd

Hollywood icon Mike Nichols died this week at the age of 83. A prodigious director and performer, Mr. Nichols directed roughly two dozen movies, including "The Graduate," "Catch-22" and "The Birdcage." Along the way, he won an Oscar, four Emmys, nine ...Read more

Breweriana enthusiasts come to Topeka to check out cans
Topeka Capital Journal, September 28th

Breweriana: Any collectible related to brewing or beer, including labels, signs, trays, openers and stationery. Cone top: A type of can topped with a spout produced from 1935 until about 1960, but most common in the 1930s and 1940s. It quickly was...Read more

15 Awesome Vintage Beer Cans
Paste Magazine, July 22nd

Earlier this month, Narragansett announced it was bringing back its classic 1975 can — the same one famously crushed by Captain Sam Quint — in honor of the 39th anniversary of Jaws. The brewery is only the latest to join a growing trend of beer...Read more

'Breweriana' show features old beer cans, trays, signs, Cleveland history
The Plain Dealer, July 13th

BCAA has been in existence 44 years and has evolved from an organization that once focused solely on trading cans to a group that promotes all things breweriana, valuing the history of openers, trays, bottles, clocks, coasters – really anything...Read more