While bottled beer remains the most popular in the market, beer cans are quite a novelty that brings a whole new experience in beer consumption.
Beer cans allow for easy drinking – just pull the tab and off you go; and they are also quite portable to carry around – no fear of bottle breaking and all.
Ever wondered when beer cans became a thing or how long they have existed in the market? There is a huge history surrounding the emergence of beer cans in the market.
History of Beer Cans
America is the birthplace of beer cans, and has been the breeding ground for cans for years now. Can beer did not come into the market until after the end of the Prohibition period in America.
Krueger’s Ale and Krueger’s Beer were the first canned beers sold. It was launched by brewer Gottfried Kreuger, of Newark, New Jersey on January 24, 1935. That date will later be known as the Beer Can Appreciation Day.
The success of the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company started in June of 1934, when four cans of beer were delivered to one thousand homes in the Richmond, Virginia area. Also, prior to this, a brewer in Montana had approached the American Can Company about canning beer in 1909.
By July 1935, Tru-Blue Beer and Ale appears in cans (made by National Can Company) becoming the second canning company to enter the market. This was followed by can beers by Pabst, Schiltz and Heekin, all within the same year.
The first non-American brewer to package beer in cans was the Welsh brewer Felinfoel, less than a year after Kreuger’s pioneering work, using cans supplied by Metal Box.
Early Problem with Cans
The first beer cans presented a huge challenge, especially for smaller breweries. Because they were flat-topped cans, they required a completely new packaging line. The problem was solved by Felinfoel who used bottle-shaped, or “cone top,” cans sealed with crown caps just like bottles. The cone-top cans were around till late-1960s.
In 1963, pull tab beer cans were introduced by Pittsburgh Brewing Company used the tabs on their iconic Iron City Beer and consumers loved them.
Because there were easily removable strips of metal, they became a whole new set of problems. Litterbugs seemed determined to scatter the sharp metal tabs everywhere. Pets and wild animals often choked on them and they cut swimmers’ feet at the beach.
In 1975, the first fixed tab beer can was introduced by Falls City Brewing Company of Louisville, KY. The design caught on has remained relatively unchanged since.
Modern Innovation and the Future
The standard-sized 16oz, or 440ml, can which is popular today was first introduced in Britain in the mid-1950s by Tennent’s.
The next major achievement in can came in 1958, when the first aluminium can was produced by the Primo brewery in Hawaii. It was 1967 before the ring-pull made it to the UK. In 1990 came the stay-on ring-pull arrived.
However, the Holy Grail for canned beer is the innovation of the self-chilling can. Several prototypes have seen the light of day, but the cost of production remains a barrier to commercial production. Canadian brewer Labatts’s launched a can with an insulated shrinkwrap label to keep beer cooler for longer in 2005.