Beer can's birthday: Cool blonde serves beverages for 75 years

Beer can's birthday: Cool blonde serves beverages for 75 years

It's a sight that makes mouths water - standing tall and cool, like a blonde bombshell that became a star overnight, dpa reported.

Seventy-five years ago this month the beer can debuted in the US. It was the idea of German immigrant brewer, Gottfried Krueger, who arrived in America at the age of 16. Unsure that the idea of beer in a can would catch on with consumers, Krueger hedged his bet. He was in Richmond, Virginia - far away from his own brewery - when he opened his first can of fizzy brew.

He reckoned that if beer drinkers didn't accept the idea, it wouldn't damage the image of his brewery, rather it would slowly run its course before becoming associated with his product, said Kevin Logan of the beer can museum in East Taunton, Massachusetts.

Krueger breweries, based in Newark, New Jersey were successful and the owners wanted to crown their product with practical packaging. So, in addition to beer, they began brewing up the idea of putting their beer in cans, which could be distributed more broadly.

At the time breweries sold their beer only in bottles distributed within 50 kilometres of the brewery so the bottles could be easily returned and refilled. Nearly twice as many cans as bottles could be packed onto a distribution truck. The same was true for home refrigerators, said Logan, who is curator of the museum.

The company American Can was already working on the idea of beer in cans. But Logan said canning green beans and canning beer are two different things. Because beer reacts with metal an inner coating that had no effect on the taste of the beer had to be developed.

The pressure of the carbonated drink also presented a challenge for the can makers. But not for long. In 1933 Krueger first let 2,000 beer drinkers test his Krueger's Special Beer from a can. Then on January 24, 1935 the first beer in metal cans came onto the market.

It was a great success. By the end of the year 200 million cans of beer were sold. The one-third litre cans were made of tin and weighed about 100 grams. Today a can of beer weighs less than one-quarter that amount and is mostly out of aluminium. For some time after they first appeared beer cans had the same shape as a bottle and had a cork seal.

In 1936 they made the leap across the Atlantic and by 1937 there were 23 breweries in Britain that sold beer in cans. Beer in cans reached Germany in 1951 with the slogan "Modern life - with beer out of a can."

But it wasn't truly modern because the closure of the original can wasn't a tab. Before they could quench their thirst beer drinkers needed to use a tool known as a church key. Without it a hole couldn't be pierced into the flat top of the can.

One day in 1963 while on a picnic with his family, an American named Ermal Fraze had no opener on hand and was forced to open his can of beer using the bumper of his car. After a few sips he came up with the idea of a pull tab integrated into the flat top of the can. Fraze registered a patent and canned beer continued fizzing along a highly successful path. Today 30 per cent of all beer sold worldwide reaches consumers in a can.

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