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Beer can celebrates 80 years

With beer cans now such a ubiquitous sight on supermarket shelves, it’s easy to forget the invention is only a mere 80 years old.

On 24 January 1935 the Gottfried Krueger Company became the first brewery to sell beer in a can with 2,000 cans of its “Finest Beer” and “Cream Ale” delivered to Richmond, Virginia.

The first attempt at canned beer was actually in 1909 but the American Can Company, which was behind the innovation, had to suspend its experiments when Prohibition was brought in. When Prohibition was lifted in 1933 the company set about developing a pressurised can, with Krueger becoming the first brewery to take it on

While cans had been in used since the early 19th century to store and preserve food, the invention of the beer can revolutionised the beer industry making it possible to transport more beer at a single time and to distribute beer further away from a brewery.

Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute, said: “America’s preference for beer is a major advantage for American workers and the US economy. Each job in a brewery creates another 45 jobs in other industries, like can manufacturing. This long supply chain is important to communities across the country. Beer cans are a major part of the package mix of beer offered to consumers today.”

Today, cans account for 54% of beer packaging, according to the Beer Institute, with companies in the United States that manufacture cans employing more than 20,000 people. The entire can industry generates more than $16 billion in revenue and $2.7 billion in taxes, which accounts for as much as $36.31 billion in total economic activity through the US.

“This anniversary showcases the longevity and strength that the aluminum can brings to the beer industry by providing an excellent drinking experience for the consumer,” said Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute. “The enduring characteristics of the beer can protects the product’s flavor and makes it portable, shatterproof, and, it is even infinitely recyclable.”

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