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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 28, 2010



Tree Hugger - On January 24, 1935, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company of New Jersey sold the first can of beer in the world. Live Science writes that "The experiment took off and American drinkers haven't looked back since, nowadays choosing cans over bottles for the majority of the 22 gallons of beer they each drink per year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. "

So why in the USA and nowhere else?

Nobody a mile north or south of the American border touches the stuff in cans; it just doesn't taste as good. But the American taste for beer was changed by Prohibition; Live Science writes:

"Ironically, it was the Prohibition that ultimately shaped the American population's taste for beer. The stronger beer that was the norm before Prohibition gave way to much weaker varieties afterwards, as people had become accustomed to bootlegged brews, which were always watered down for maximum profit.

"But the real advantage of the can over the bottle was that it wasn't returnable, and the brewers could ship to a much wider area and not worry about having to take back the bottles. Since Americans were already used to weak lousy beer, it did not take much to convince them to drink it in cans instead of bottles."

The decline in the amount of beer sold in bottles also led to the decline of the local brewery; a single monster brewery could serve half the country.


Blogger Lars said...

I think there are a few problems with this highlighted story:

1. The craft beer market has exploded since the 1980s. At least in MA, the number of types of beer sold in bottles far supercedes that sold in cans.

2. Can beer does not have to taste worse than glass. And some craft brewers are finding it more eco friendly to ship their brews in cans rahter than glass due to reduced shipping weight. Oskar Blues and 21st Amendment are two brewers selling lots of great beer in cans:

3. At least in MA, and many other states, bottle collection seems to be no longer happening. Most machines for redemption are automated bar code readers that crush the redemables for recycling. The exception are breweries or small brewers that charge a large deposit for growlers to ensure return.

4. Keg beer is aluminum too, and highly reusable. I don't think anybody argues that flash-pasteurized, glass-bottled beer is better than unpasteurized keg draft beer. Most local brewers supply in this too.

I'm not opposed to beer in glass mind you, that's how I consume most of my beer at home. It's just fiction that the benefits of glass bottled beer are that much more superior to canned beer these days.

January 28, 2010 2:39 PM  
Anonymous robbie said...

Beer in bottles, absolutely. Only thing I like in a can is a soft drink since the cans are relatively small you can finish it before it gets warm.

January 28, 2010 6:32 PM  

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