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Happy birthday beer can

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Not that you need an excuse to crack open a cold can of craft beer but, if you do, try this perfectly sound reason:

“Canned beer makes its debut on this day in 1935. In partnership with the American Can Company, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale to faithful Krueger drinkers in Richmond, Virginia. Ninety-one percent of the drinkers approved of the canned beer, driving Krueger to give the green light to further production.” That’s from today’s post on History.com, which gives a great little historic overview on the beer can’s birth.

Here were a few of the selling points 78 years ago:

* Purchasing beer in cans didn’t entail a deposit
* They’re stackable (all hail the future 30-pack cube of lager)
* Cans are more durable (but less fun to shoot in the desert)
* The beer chills faster than bottled beer

Of course, today we know cans have a few other pluses, including:

* Zero UV contamination for fresher hops
* Less chance of oxidation
* You can drink them on beaches, in parks, on ice-fishing lakes and everywhere else where alcohol is permitted but glass is not
* It’s slightly more socially acceptable to crush a beer can on your head than it is to smash a bottle

The best places to really see the fast-growing popularity of cans in the craft beer world first-hand are at the festivals dedicated to the little aluminum vessels. Canfest—the first of its kind—held its fourth annual festival last November in Reno, Nevada. There’s also the Ameri-Can Craft Beer Festival held late spring in Chandler, Arizona. Or, if you want a pretty exhaustive list of the craft breweries that can, check out the fine work over at CraftCans.com.

In the meantime, chill down a few of your favorite cans (can you identify all the ones pictured above?) and read up on some vintage breweriana over at the Brewery Collectibles Club of America, which provides the notes on vintage cans for the “Sweet Cans” department in each issue of DRAFT.

For a close-up of how canning works, check out this video from Montana’s Kettle House Brewing.

One Comment

  • jerry mcdonough says:

    Krueger was afraid to debut the can in its home markets in NY and NJ. Virginia was so far away that a bad reaction would have been insignificant. The key to success was a plastic liner to the steel can to prevent an off taste from the metal.

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