This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Most Important Day in Canning Technology & Organic Chemistry

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January 24, 1935:  First Canned Beer Sold

The first canned beer in the United States goes on sale in Richmond, Virginia. By the end of the year, 37 breweries follow the lead of the Gottfried Krueger Brewery.

The American Can Co. began experimenting with canned beer in 1909. But the cans couldn’t withstand the pressure from carbonation — up to 80 pounds per square inch — and exploded. Just before the end of the Prohibition in 1933, the company developed a “keg-lining” technique, coating the inside of the can the same as a keg.

Krueger had been brewing beer since the mid-1800s, but had suffered from the Prohibition and worker strikes. When American Can approached with the idea of canned beer, it was initially unpopular with Krueger execs. But American Can offered to install the equipment for free: If the beer flopped, Krueger wouldn’t have to pay.

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The technology for canning beer existed long before it actually occurred. Some evidence of experimentation dates back to the late 1910’s. Prohibition (1919-1933) put those efforts on hold. Once Prohibition for beer was repealed in April of 1933, American Can Company renewed its efforts to entice brewers to can their product.

The first fish to take the bait was not the biggest. In fact it was a moderately sized brewer in Newark, New Jersey, the Gottfried Kreuger Brewing Company. The first known production run was in late 1933. The trial run is believed to have been 2000 cans. The cans were never sold. The design was very similar to later Krueger cans but is distinguished by different wording on the can. The trial cans were labeled “Krueger’s Special Beer”. Later can designs changed to Krueger’s Finest Beer and later, Krueger Finest Beer.

The big moment arrived after a favorable initial test. G. Krueger Brewing must have felt it was a huge gamble to be first out with canned beer. It was too big a gamble to release the product in their regional market. Instead, a test market in Richmond, Virginia was established. On January 24, 1935, canned beer went on sale. Two brands were sold, Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale.

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The Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered the first cans of beer to the consumer market, marking a seismic shift in the future of the beer industry. Storing beer in cans was easier and cheaper in almost every aspect of the beer industry. Soon, the entire country was drinking from a can.

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.

-Dave Barry-

Beauty lies in the hands of the beer holder.

-Anonymous-

24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?

-Stephen Wright-

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer.

-Homer Simpson-

Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.

-Dave Barry-

A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.

-Czech Proverb-

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