Today is a big day in beer history. January 24th marks the anniversary of the first canned beer sold in the U.S. thanks to the American Can Company. It was their innovation that ultimately led to the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company releasing “Krueger’s Finest Beer & “Cream Ale” in a new steel can format (we were still years away from traditional aluminum). The New Jersey brewery test marketed 2,000 cans in Richmond, Virginia for the first time 83 years ago.
Interestingly, the American Can Company started this whole process back in 1909. Unfortunately, the 80 pounds of pressure per square inch needed to maintain carbonation caused the first cans to explode. Despite American Prohibition, the company continued their research in hopes of the day beer was legal once again.
As crazy as it sounds now, the sale of beer in cans wasn’t easy. Adoption took time. Gottfried Krueger was founded in 1858 and was pretty set in their brewing ways and pretty much dismissed the idea of canning when American Can approached them in 1935. That was, until the canning equipment was offered for free.
As it turned out, Krueger’s Finest Beer and Cream Ale sales swelled thanks to the steel can sales, prompting Pabst, Schlitz, Stroh’s and Anheuser Busch to adopt canning just to regain market share.
Beer canning in the United States was put on hold for a few years due to a resource strain during World War II. The heavy steel can only had a few years left in use when canning resumed in 1947, as the more modern aluminum can was ultimately introduced in 1958.
Here in 2019, the United States has swelled to a record-breaking 7,000+ breweries. According to 2016 IRI Worldwide Data, canned beer accounts for more than 50% of beer (all beer) sold in the United States.
In the craft beer segment, Brewers Association economist Bart Watson has found a continued increase in market share by cans, seeing more craft breweries adopting at least a mix of cans and bottles.
To think Krueger turned down the idea. Within three months of the first release, Krueger’s newly adopted can format was in the hands of over 80 distributors (which was a lot back then).
Sadly, two years after Krueger’s 100th birthday, the company was sold and the Newark, New Jersey plant was closed. While the brand may be gone, their aluminum efforts have set off a canned revolution that is only growing in American beer today. Of the Top 25 largest breweries in the U.S., from Anheuser-Busch, Pabst, and MillerCoors to Boston Beer, Sierra Nevada, Founders, Bell’s Stone and Brooklyn Brewing – all can at least some of their lineup.
That number just keeps growing every year.
If you are Oskar Blues, Surly, or 21st Amendment Brewing (just to name a few) or any beer drinker that has ever drank a beer from a can, today is a big day for you. The first beer in a can was sold on this day in 1935. The American Can Company manufactured the cans that Gottfried Kruger Brewing Company ordered to can “Krueger’s Finest Beer & “Cream Ale”. The brewery was based in Richmond, Va.
– The first attempted at canning actually started in 1909. The first attempts were unsuccessful due to pressure and sealing issues.
– Prohibition in the United States (aka The Dark Times) prevented American Can from attempting again until repeal – 1933
– As crazy as it sounds now, the sale of beer in cans wasn’t easy. Adoption took time.
– Krueger’s canned beer became popular very fast once the idea took off.
– Schlitz, Pabst, Stroh’s & Anheuser-Busch lost market share due to Gottfried Krueger’s cans – so started canning also.
– According to the Brewer’s Association, canned beer accounts for more than 50% of beer sold in the states.
Here at the start of 2015, dozens of craft brewers are adding cans to their lineup. (Lonerider in North Carolina dropped bottles completely for cans.)
Happy Birthday beer can. Thanks for always being full.
Read more: Canned Craft Beer
It must be hard to find good help these days as yet another employee-assisted beer theft has taken place. At a NY warehouse for Anheuser-Busch InBev a security guard allegedly assisted in the theft of $100,000 worth of cases of beer over several months by purposefully pointing security cameras away from the thirsty thieves. Cops apprehended the suspect, Charles Dandrea, last week by watching him turn the cameras elsewhere as 5 people drove a U-Haul up to the warehouse door and load up pallets of beers. These activities have allegedly been taking place since November of 2012. All suspects have been charged with petty and grand larceny and could face up to 15 years in prison. Stealing Bud? Guess times are tougher than we thought!
A little visual history lesson of the last 100 years of brewing in America.
Also, the first of the brewery’s 750ml bottles are rolling off the line. Blushing Monk is the first of the new “Backstage Series.” Monk is a Belgian style fruit beer fermented with pure raspberries. (Previously brewed half a decade ago under the name Imperial Belgian Razz.)
Availability: 750ml bottles
Arrival: Released in Summer, 2011
A beer George Washington drank before sending the English packing for good has been brewed again. Among the collected writing of America’s first president was a handwritten recipe for “small beer” from 1757. The New York Public Library is in possession of this recipe. It was in a notebook from when he was a Colonel in Virginia. The recipe reads:
Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran Hops to your Taste. — Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask — leave the bung open till it is almost don[e] Working — Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.
The recipe resembles a porter, no doubt drawing from English roots. Shmaltz/Coney Island Brewing will be recreating this original recipe for The New York Public Library’s 100th Anniversary. Only 15 gallons will be created, with half staying true to the original recipe & half using malted barley instead of molasses. The name? “Fortitude’s Founding Father Brew”. Washington was a well known beer drinker, & home brewer. It is mentioned that upon British troops leaving New York, Washington celebrated with a pint at Bull’s Head Tavern. <MSNBC, Dailymail.co.uk>
One thing is for sure, everyone’s favorite malty beverage dates back quite a few years. Cuneiform tablets dating by to 4000 BC mention beer being used as currency. Sumerians had Ninkasi, the goddess of beer. Egypt has a beer history too, as evidenced by Dogfish Head’s brews. Now that Dogfish is mentioned, Chateau Jiahu replicates a 9,000 year old recipe originating from China. The art of cooking dates back a full 250,000 years, & beer might just be too <Scientific American>