Beer cans have earned a place in American industrial history. The beer can is as much a marketing tool and symbol of a brewery as a container to package beer and millions of individuals collect beer cans for their unique and often memorable slogans, colors, symbols, and artwork. Beer cans for craft beer were largely rejected over the past 30 years, but they are making a comeback and one book that nicely illustrates the beer can renaissance is Canned: Artwork of the Modern American Beer Can, a book by Russ Phillips.
Metal Makes a Comeback
Beer cans were once the package of choice for brewers. Steel cans, later replaced by aluminum cans, were the normal way to package beer for retail distribution. Over time, glass bottles were introduced as an alternative and in the craft beer world, glass was the exclusive container of choice for the large majority of the craft beer industry’s existence.
Then, Colorado’s Oskar Blue Brewing Company decided to do something a little different- and daring. The company decided to package its Dales Pale Ale in cans and its decision has proven revolutionary. The public accepted the change, the trend caught on, and more craft breweries followed suit. Today, the number of breweries canning their suds is substantial and on the rise, with more and more breweries scrapping glass for aluminum in craft breweries large and small.
Cans from Coast to Coast
Canned is a book dedicated to this industry trend and it features thousands of cans. The book sorts the cans first by region, then alphabetically by the brewery name. With each can, the book includes the brewery location, the artist who designed the can, and the style of beer contained within. But the book doesn’t end there- it also includes some commentary on the different designs, such as the inspiration behind the beer, the subtle nuances of the can’s artwork, and any special messages on the cans, some of which are obvious and some that are not.
The Trend Continues
Canning beer as opposed to bottling is a growing trend. There are many good reasons for the movement to metal but aside from the practical, one of the many benefits that cans bring is the artwork. I can remember having a beer can collection of my own as a kid and I recall how interesting and unique the different cans were and how cool they looked stacked against my bedroom wall, in pyramid form, reaching upwards toward the ceiling with each displaying its personality loudly and clearly.
With the craft beer and canning renaissance, the artwork is even more intense and interesting than in the past. Paging through this book, you really gain an appreciation for the artistic talent that went into the making of each can. Craft beer has much more personality and is more artistic in nature than the macro- brewed beer from decades past. It makes sense, then, that the cans would reflect the artisanal nature of the product within and Canned illustrates these eye- catching designs very nicely, often depicting the front and back of the cans and, in some instances, displaying a stretched out version of the can so that readers can see the label in its entirety, from end to end.
Cans for the Masses
Beer cans are not going away. They present a viable and, in many ways, desirable alternative to packaging in bottles and the number of craft breweries canning their beer is on the rise. Canned is a nice reference guide to the resurgence of the beer can and its sharp, colorful illustrations show just how far the craft beer scene has come since its humble beginnings just a few decades ago. Read Canned, and learn more about beer cans and the people behind this amazing artwork.