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Beer Can Appreciation Day – 5 Things You May Not Know About Cans

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Beer Can Appreciation Day is a day to recognize beer cans, those decoratively-decorated aluminum vessels that we’re all chasing across the country, turn 85 this year.

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They’re lightweight, cheaper than bottles for production, and endlessly recyclable, so it makes sense that there’d be a day to recognize them.

They’ve come a LONG way since their inception too, (especially when they had opening instructions literally printed on them).

Most recently, we’ve seen a noticeable trend towards the 16 oz. tallboys. At first, it seemed like it was just hazies packaged in them. But now, the list includes just about every style imaginable.

Why is everyone leaning towards these bigger cans? Beer Can Appreciation Day is Friday January 23, and we wanted to know more. So we reached out to Patrick Christian, Co-Founder and Sales Director of Great Heights and Marin Slanina, former General Manager at B-52 and now Taproom & Marketing Manager at Urban South HTX for insight since their packaged beer is almost exclusively housed in 16 oz. cans.

How did this whole thing get started?

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“Several years ago, they picked up steam with some trendy breweries, either to differentiate themselves or to offer more area for colorful artwork,” said Patrick.

Not only were they a uniquely bigger size, breweries were also able to differentiate themselves with these more giant cans through label art, which has much more room than a 12 oz. can – 25% more to be exact. 😉

With themes ranging from traditional to gothic and TV and movie references to completely off-the-wall, the possibilities are endless for designers.

“I do think offering more space for the artwork is a factor,” according to Patrick.

However, Marin Slanina disagrees.

Marin, a product packaging design major in college, said it’s not a marketing thing. “You can do eye-catching design on any size product.”

Can’t disagree there.

According to her, the 16 oz. cans are more popular because “it’s enough to share, but not too much for one person, which is a better value.”

Regardless of your stance there, there are some advantages.

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Patrick shared that there are “some efficiencies with can costs and storage versus selling 6-packs”. Less raw cans to buy and more cans to fit in your coolers. Got it.

These bigger cans are so popular now that it’s what customers have come to expect. You still see 12 oz. cans all the time… nothing wrong with those. But with so many releases happening all the time, people assume they’ll be of the 16 oz. variety.

Breweries, like Great Heights and B-52, recognize this and want to produce what their customers expect.

But let’s not forget their most significant advantage. “It feels good to hold a bigger can that will actually fill up a beer glass,” Patrick pointed out.

Damn straight.

Cans, large and small, are a great way to package, ship, and consume beer. But if you’re anything like us, you want to know a bit more. Or a lot more. And as soon as you learn it, you’ll spew your newly acquired information on an innocent bystander like a spit take on a 80’s sitcom.

So, in the spirit of their birthday, here are 5 things you may not know about beer cans:

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1) The first beers ever canned were Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company out of Richmond, Virginia, in 1935.

The concept itself wasn’t initially popular with customers, but the first run of the product impressed 91% of their customers. They actually said it tasted more like draft than bottled beer.

In Houston, Southern Star was the first to offer canned beer locally.

2) Those first beer cans took almost 23 years to create! Cans for food had been around for quite some time, but it took (a LOT of) experimentation to find something that wouldn’t explode under pressure.

Prototypes from the American Can Company came around in 1909, but then Prohibition happened, and they couldn’t get back to it until 1931. It took another full two years of work before they were able to create a pressurized, coated can for Krueger.

3) The invention of the 32 oz. crowler is credited to Oskar Blues based in Longmont, CO. The brewery worked with Ball Corporation to modify an existing sealing machine to accommodate 32 oz. cans. After putting them in their own locations, they shared the wealth (prevalent in the craft beer community), and now they’re everywhere.

We’ve done our own write-up about these big cans, which includes a list of breweries around town that sell crowlers, such as Baa Baa, Eureka Heights, and Brash.

4) I used to think that bottles were the superior packaging style and that cans should only be used for “cheap” beer. I still prefer the feel of pouring from a bottle, but my opinion has changed drastically now that cans are everywhere.

Bottles are always great for aesthetic and that romantic feel. They also hold CO2 better and are the only choice for bottle-fermented beers.

But, cans are superior in just about every other way. They completely protect the beer from light, are easier to transport, weigh less, and are better for the environment.

5) Antique beer cans are very collectible, especially in some of the older styles like flat-top and cone-top. These were the original designs introduced when canned beer first became a thing and are the most popular for collectors.

Design and condition drive demand and determine their value. With the explosion of beer offerings in the market, the beer can market goes up and down pretty often. However, 4- and 5-digit price tags are probably much more common than you’d think.

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Now that you’re a more informed beer nerd, maybe you can find more reasons to show your appreciation on January 24.

Of course, you’re going to need some cans for that. In order to get some delivered fresh and cold to your front door, visit HopDrop for 10% off craft beer delivery using our code “BEERCHRONICLE” at checkout.

And if you’re a fan of Josh’s photos like that Southern Star Hecho en Conroe or the Saint Arnold Art Car shot above, you can purchase prints on our new store site, houstonbeer.af.

Beers to you, Houston


Brent is originally from Ohio but has been in Houston for over 10 years. As an Aggie, musician, animal advocate, and Lego collector, he always has something going on. If you have an imperial stout, come find him. He’ll want to add it to his insatiable beer spreadsheet.


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Brent Topa
brent.topa@beerchronicle.com

Brent is originally from Ohio but has been in Houston for over 10 years. As an Aggie, musician, animal advocate, and Lego collector, he always has something going on. If you have an imperial stout, come find him. He'll want to add it to his insatiable beer spreadsheet.

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