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Crack open a cold one and celebrate: Happy 84th birthday to the humble beer can!


WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — Exactly 84 years ago today, in 1935, a New Jersey beer company revolutionized how beer drinkers imbibed their favorite brews with the introduction of the beer can.

The humble beer can was an absolute game-changer when Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company first put cans of its Krueger Finest Beer and Krueger's Cream Ale on store shelves in Richmond, Virginia. While it may seem commonplace today, it took some time for the idea of canned beer to get off the ground.

"They had experimented before Prohibition," said Kevin Kious of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America, but brewers didn't pursue it seriously at the time.

The idea was put into practice in 1933 when Krueger teamed up with the American Can Company to release the first run of canned beers. Two-thousand cans of Krueger's Special Beer were released to the company's loyal customers an an effort to test the market. The results were remarkable.

"Ninety-one percent gave it thumbs up, and 85 percent said it tasted more like draft than bottled beer," says the BCCA's website.

Beer off the draft has generally been considered the best way to drink the beverage, so the fact that canned beer tasted more like a draft was a big plus. But the beer can had several other advantages.

Can we guess your favorite type of beer?

"Light is not good for beer, and beer cans let in no light," Kious said.

Light has a negative impact on the hops used to achieve flavor in beer. Too much light exposure creates off flavors, leading to what many drinkers call "skunked" beer.

Beer cans are also easier to store and ship, which helps cut costs for brewers, and leads to cheaper beer for you. Some craft breweries prefer to can their beer because they have less impact on the environment.

Cans are also collectible. Top dollar cans can go for tens of thousands of dollars at auction, according to Kious. Hundreds of these rare cans are sold each year. This is another area in which cans dominate bottles.

Which classic cocktail are you?

"I guess they are prettier," Kious said.

One of the most common criticisms against canned beer is the alleged metallic taste they can create in beer. But that's a myth. The inner portion of cans have been manufactured with a thin layer of plastic since 1935 for the express purpose of keeping the flavor.


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