Jan 24, 2023 - Food and Drink

Beer cans were born in Richmond

Are you old enough to remember this can? Probably not. Photo: Courtesy of Krueger Brewing Company

It's National Beer Can Appreciation Day β€” celebrated every Jan. 24 in honor of the first can of beer, sold 88 years ago today right here in Richmond.

Why it matters: Were it not for trend-savvy Richmonders, the world might still be drinking beer out of bottles.

What happened: The American Can Company started experimenting with canned beer early in the 20th century, but it wasn't until the 1930s that it got a U.S. brewer to bite.

After American Can offered to install the canning equipment for free, Krueger Brewing Company agreed to put some of its beer in cans in 1935 β€” by selling it somewhere far away from its New Jersey headquarters so it wouldn't be embarrassed if the experiment was a flop.

  • Krueger sent 2,000 samples here, in heavy-gauge tins with flat tops.
  • "To open the can," according to the β€œOxford Companion to Beer, "the consumer had to punch a hole in the top with a sharp implement like a church-key style opener."
  • A whopping 91% of Richmonders said they approved, per History.com, and by the end of the year canned beer had gone mainstream.

Of note: More than 40 years later, cans got an update with the introduction of the stay-on pull-tab, invented by Reynolds Metals Co. β€” yes, right here in Richmond.

The bottom line: Richmonders know a good alcohol delivery method when they see one.


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