ENWR Bad Beer Cans

Bad Beer Cans
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It had been no small feat for a brewery to reopen after the long period of prohibition.
About 750 breweries did manage to open for business in post- prohibition period.
Opening proved to be only the first challenge. Only a small handful managed to emerge
at the end of the millenium. Unfortunately, for can collectors only a minority of the
breweries actually invested in canning lines. There were fewer breweries in business after
World War II than before the war. The 750 breweries operating at the end of prohibition
shrank to around 400 in 1950. Local breweries were swallowed by bigger local breweries
who were, in turn swallowed by regional breweries. The regional breweries became
target for the big national breweries. This trend has continued unabated through today
where the big three of Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors control the majority of the
market. In 1999 this trend hit home in the Northwest with the closing of the Rainier
Brewery of Seattle and Blitz-Weinhard brewery of Portland. Both breweries date back to
the 19th century. The historic Blitz brewery is slated to be replaced with a "modern"
office complex while the Rainier brewery is being sublet to a coffee company. The
microbrew craze has done wonders for the variety of beer available at the grocery store.
This has been great for the beer drinker, but has done little to help the can collector. With
a few exceptions, such as Petes Wicked Beers, the microbreweries do not can their
The return of the GI's after World War II did provide a boost to the beer can. These
soldiers became accustomed to drinking beer out of cans overseas. They were
comfortable with the package and purchased beer in cans upon their arrival back home.
The cans of the post war era no longer needed to have opening instructions on their
backside. People had figured out how to get at the contents. This is general indicator to
distinguish pre-war and post-war cans. Now that people were accumstomed to can
openers, the cone top beer can seemed to make less and less sense. For one thing, it was
bulkier than the flat-top style which resulted in higher shipping costs. It was also more
difficult for retailers to make attractive displays from the cone tops, while the flat tops
lent themselves to "pyramid" building. The early advantage of fitting on existing bottling
lines passed over time, as breweries preferred the faster filling speed of the flat top can.
After World War II, it was more and more the smaller poorer breweries who used the
cone top. They could not justify the purchase of a new canning line. Many smaller
breweries never did can beer. The cone top can began to look old fashioned especially
after the bigger breweries abandoned the container. Cone top cans faded away through
the late 1940's and 1950's. The Kessler Brewery of Montana is believed to be the last
holdout, using the cone top into the 1960's.
(from http://home1.gte.net/tjhoff/bchistp2.html)