Monday’s ad is for Kent Ale, from 1935. It was made by the G. Krueger Brewing Co., who was the first to debut beer in cans earlier in the same year. Tis was the third of their beers they put in a can, after the first test in their Virginia market was so successful. What’s really interesting is the described the beer as an “India Pale Type Stock Ale,” which apparently has “tangy, English-tavern flavor.” I would have liked to have tasted that one.
Today in 1995, US Patent 5405039 A was issued, an invention of Masahiro Komura, for his “Can For Beverage.” Here’s the Abstract:
A can for containing a beverage has a cylindrical body, a top lid for forming an opening through which the beverage can be drunk from the can, a small tab having a finger-receiving hole staked to a central portion of the top lid with a staking member, and a line of weakness defining the opening. This line is in the form of a segment of a circle centered about the staking member. This segment is between an approximately semicircular segment and a 90 degree segment.
Today in 2007, US Patent 20070075089 A1 was issued, an invention of Thomas Stein, for his “Method of Protecting the Open Top of a Beer Can and a Soda Can Against Contamination by Insects, Dirt And Debris.” Here’s the Abstract:
A cover for the open top of a soda can or beer can is substantially round and has a pair of parallel sides together with an annular bevel or chamfer to accommodate either a soda can or a beer can. The beer can has a larger diameter at its annular rim than that of the soda can, so that (in use) the cover is reversed. The cover may contain a trademark, logo, company name or message for promotional purposes. An alternate cover is substantially half-round, and a further embodiment is substantially arcuate.
I think the best thing about his patent is the drawing illustrating all of the problems that this invention will fix or make better. They’re hilarious. How did we ever drink from cans before this?
Today in 1935, US Patent 1996550 A was issued, an invention of John M. Hothersall and Dewitt F. Sampson, assigned to American Can Co., for their “Container Opener.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that the “invention relates in general to container opening devices and more particularly to a punch opener for producing a substantial pouring opening in containers having projecting end scams or joints.” Essentially it’s a church key that includes a bottle opener, as well. Here’s how this church key is special:
The principal object of the invention is to provide a container opener which at one stroke or turning movement produces a substantial pouring opening in a wall of a container through which the contents, be they fluid or granular, may be readily dispensed.
Another important object of the invention is to provide a container opening punch or cutter adapted to work on the lever principle and which employs a projecting end joint of a container, for example, the end seam, as a fulcrum or pivot point about which the cutter may be rocked into opening position in a single arcuate movement.
Another important object of the invention is the provision of such a rocker punch whose operating parts are all adapted to be formed out of a single piece of steel or other suitable material in a few simple die operations, and which, because of its simplicity of construction, can be produced inexpensively and automatically with a view to supplying the public with an efficient opening tool at small cost.
Still another important object of the invention is the provision of such a punch opener which is adapted to produce a substantial and complete pouring opening quickly at one arcuate movement of the opener. While such rapidly and completely created opening is desirable in connection with containers filled with most products, dry or wet, from the standpoint of the time element, it lends itself exceptionally well to and solves a real problem in the opening of containers filled with effervescent liquids such as beer, where a quick and adequate opening will prevent ebullition and spilling of the contents.
Today is one of my favorite author’s birthdays, John Updike. He grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town that I did — Shillington — and we both escaped to a life of writing. Though I think you’ll agree he did rather better than I did with the writing thing, not that I’m complaining. I once wrote to him about a harebrained idea I had about writing updated Olinger stories from the perspective of the next generation (his Olinger Stories were a series of short tales set in Olinger, which was essentially his fictional name for Shillington). He wrote me back a nice note of encouragement on a hand-typed postcard that he signed, which today hangs in my office as a reminder and for inspiration. Anyway, this little gem he wrote for the The New Yorker in 1964 is a favorite of mine and I now post it each year in his honor. Enjoy.
Beer Can by John Updike
This seems to be an era of gratuitous inventions and negative improvements. Consider the beer can. It was beautiful — as beautiful as the clothespin, as inevitable as the wine bottle, as dignified and reassuring as the fire hydrant. A tranquil cylinder of delightfully resonant metal, it could be opened in an instant, requiring only the application of a handy gadget freely dispensed by every grocer. Who can forget the small, symmetrical thrill of those two triangular punctures, the dainty pfff, the little crest of suds that foamed eagerly in the exultation of release? Now we are given, instead, a top beetling with an ugly, shmoo-shaped tab, which, after fiercely resisting the tugging, bleeding fingers of the thirsty man, threatens his lips with a dangerous and hideous hole. However, we have discovered a way to thwart Progress, usually so unthwartable. Turn the beer can upside down and open the bottom. The bottom is still the way the top used to be. True, this operation gives the beer an unsettling jolt, and the sight of a consistently inverted beer can might make people edgy, not to say queasy. But the latter difficulty could be eliminated if manufacturers would design cans that looked the same whichever end was up, like playing cards. What we need is Progress with an escape hatch.
Now that’s writing. I especially like his allusion to the beauty of the clothespin as I am an unabashed lover of clothespins.
In case you’re not as old and curmudgeonly as me — and who is? — he’s talking about the transition to the pull-tab beer can (introduced between 1962-64) to replace the flat punch-top can that required you to punch two triangular holes in the top of the can in order to drink the beer and pour it in a glass.
The pull-tab (at left) replaced the punch top (right).
Originally known as the Zip Top, Rusty Cans has an informative and entertaining history of them. Now you know why a lot of bottle openers still have that triangle-shaped punch on one end.
So essentially, he’s lamenting the death of the old style beer can which most people considered a pain to open and downright impossible should you be without the necessary church key opener. He is correct, however, that the newfangled suckers were sharp and did cut fingers and lips on occasion, even snapping off without opening from time to time. But you still have to laugh at the unwillingness to embrace change (and possibly progress) even though he was only 32 at the time; hardly a normally curmudgeonly age.
For the 98th Session, our host is Nathan Pierce, who writes the blog for Microbrewr. He’s asking us all to weigh in on what’s better, what you prefer, and/or what’s the deal with “Cans or Bottles?” Essentially he wants to know your take on the packaging wars. Alright, maybe not a war, more like a friendly debate. Fingers crossed.
A bottling line or a canning line is a substantial financial investment. So this question is a significant consideration to anyone starting a brewery.
The answers give great insight. However, one thing I see lacking from the discussion is solid data.
Of course aluminum can manufacturers and glass bottle manufacturers each have an interest in showing their packaging is best. I have heard a lot of arguments on both sides, even data and statistics, but I haven’t heard many references from third-party studies. If you can offer this, that would be a great help.
In any case, I’m looking forward to reading the answers not only to see where the consumer trends are going, but also as research for the brewery I dream of opening.
What’s your perspective?
Will you write from the consumer point of view? From which kind of packaging do you prefer to drink beer? Why do you prefer that packaging?
Will you write from a manufacturer perspective? How do you want your brand portrayed? Which packaging suits your beer best?
Will you write from a distributors perspective? Which packaging do you prefer to transport and stock at retail locations?
Some other insight?
So pop a cap or pull a tab, and decide which one you like better. Then to participate in the April Session, leave a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, April 3.
Today in 1981, US Patent 4255457 A was issued, an invention of George J. Collias, assigned to the Kepros-Ganes Company, for his “Method and Apparatus for Preventing Buckle of Beer Cans During Pasteurization.” Here’s the Abstract:
A method is described for preventing buckling of beer-can tops and bottoms during pasteurization of the beer. Prior to the pasteurization, an anti-buckle ring is mated with each beer can such that the ring captures the base portion of the can’s bottom. The ring permits the bottom’s panel to bulge outwardly while preventing radial displacement of the bottom’s base area and, hence, buckling of the can bottom, when the heat applied during pasteurization causes the internal pressure of the can to increase. To prevent buckle of the beer can’s top, another anti-buckle ring may be mated with the top of the can such that the latter ring captures the double-seam area on the top of the can to prevent radial displacement at key points of the top. After pasteurization, both rings are automatically removed from the can for use with another can.
Today in 1938, US Patent 2109489 A was issued, an invention of John Daniel Le Frank, assigned to the American Can Co., for his “Liquid Filling Machine.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that the “present invention relates to a machine for filling cans with liquids that have a tendency to foam and has particular reference to devices which minimize foaming of the liquid passing into a can, passages in the devices being automatically purged of any foam which may have accumulated during the filling of a preceding can.”
Today in 1951, US Patent D162082 S was issued, an invention of Carl G. Preis, for his “Combination Can and Bottle Opener.” There’s no Abstract, but the rather short application states simply that Preis has “invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for a Combination Can and Bottle Opener.”
Today in 2011, US Patent 20110036840 A1 was issued, an invention of Tal Zakai, for his “Ring Pull Can Cap.” Here’s the Abstract:
The present innovation is a dual purpose “ring-pull/can cap”, which performs as both a sealing cap for metal beverage cans in addition to its traditional usage as a can opener. The design is a modification of the U.S. Pat. No. 3,967,752 “easy open wall”, which is the current opening mechanism on most consumer beverage cans, also known in the industry as an “easy open end”. The “ring-pull/can cap” is an improvement of the well known ring-pull design found on most metal cans today, but also allows consumers to close and seal off the can when not in use.
There are two popular opening methods that have been used for opening metal cans to date: The “full open” mechanism and the more recent “half open” mechanism, as described below. The present invention deals with the improvement of the popular “half open” method, which currently does not allow the beverage can to be resealed after opening.