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Beer Can Appreciation Day

Bet you didn’t know that there’s an entire day every year dedicated to celebrating a beer can, but that’s exactly what occurs every January 24th! 

On January 24th, 1935, the first beer sold in a can made its debut at Krueger’s Brewing Company located in Richmond, Virginia. The can was created by American Can Company and they also created the first ever canning line. The new invention was made of steel and – before the beer was added – weighed in at a hefty 4oz.! Each can had to be opened by a church key/can-opener with another variation being the cone-top beer can sealed with a bottle cap. Of course, as the beer can evolved, steel (and tin) was eventually transitioned to aluminum and zip taps (1962), pull tabs (1963) and stay tabs (1975) replaced the need for a church key. Thus, making the containers both lighter and easier to drink from.

During WWII, metal was rationed for the war effort and therefore it was back to beer in bottles. No beer cans were produced for civilians after May 31, 1942, but production of beer in olive drab cans did continue for military use only. In 1946, The Office of Temporary Controls of the US Government, lifted the restriction on metal usage for cans. 

In 1956, the first 24oz. “Tall Boy” was introduced by Schlitz Brewing Company. In 1958, the first all-aluminum paper-label flat-top can hit the market. In 1959, Coors Brewing Company invented the first recyclable two-piece aluminum 7oz. beer can. By 1969, canned beer was outselling bottled beer in the United States.

Fast-forward to 2009, when Coors again made history by creating a “cold-activated can” that utilized ink that changes color when cold. In 2011, mobile canning and can-wrapping are introduced, which allowed for smaller breweries to produce canned beer for sale and consumption on site. In 2012, the 32oz. Crowler was introduced by Oskar Blues Brewing Company. By 2017, home canning units became readily available for home-brewers. 

Branding and art on the labels of beer cans is nothing new and there are loads of individual hobbyists and members of formal groups such as the Brewery Collectables Club of America who thrive on adding to their collections from both yesteryear and here-and-now. For instance, in 1967, The National Brewing Company of Baltimore, MA branded a 7-can malt liquor and beer “special blend” series with 007 James Bond depicting 7-different beautiful women each featuring a backdrop of 7-different famous London landmarks. One of these original cans can fetch a price of up to $2300 each! Today, many different breweries collaborate with local artists on can art and labels that both benefit the brewery – eye-catching cans draw in the consumer – and the artist, whom gets to showcase their talent to a wider audience. In addition, can art extends into mainstream politics and the social justice realm, which just goes to show that a beer can is also a modern-day billboard.

Fun facts about beer cans: 

  • It takes a shorter amount of time to chill beer in cans than it does in bottles. However, bottles will keep your beer colder for longer. Don’t let that deter you from purchasing cans though, because there are plenty of koozies and drink coolers (Recoil, BrüMate, Yeti) out on the market that will act like a zipped-up parka wrapped around your can and keep it cooler for longer. 
  • Because beer cans are made from aluminum, they are one of the most recycled items on planet earth! Aluminum is a super material because it can be recycled over-and-over again, indefinitely. Therefore, the next time you’re standing in the supermarket brooding over which beer to get, in bottles or in cans, go for the cans – they’re the environmentally savvy way to go. 
  • Beer cans keep your beer tasting fresher and keeps the flavor of said beer from being altered. This is because cans are air-tight (bottles can be iffy at times) and the beer is kept from light and UV rays (unlike bottles). Light and air, respectively, are the two biggest factors in beer becoming “skunked” (by a sulphuric compound being created in the bottle), and oxidized, which results in a sharp, almost sherry-type flavor, or a stale, cardboard flavor, and can even become “flat,” with the loss of carbon dioxide.  

On January 24th this year, forget about the glass and celebrate Beer Can Appreciation Day by simply swigging straight from the can itself…and then, optionally, raising the empty beer can and crushing it against your skull, while yelling something Neanderthal-ish, and then, like the good human you are, tossing the crushed can directly into your recycling bin! 


Source: https://www.bcca.com/beer-can-appreciation-day-january-24th/

Kristin Merritt
Just your average craft-brew loving gal slinging your monthly pour of beer education and the low-down on all things beer related in the immediate CNY area and beyond. Along the way I hope to give a few recommendations for your grocery list, events to attend, and local hotspots to hit-up for shenanigans with friends, ideas for date night, or at the very least enlighten you with a bit of random knowledge to use towards trivia night or simply give you and your teammates a suggestion on what to drink at the bar! Cheers!