August 2015

Beer….By the Numbers

  • U.S. brewery count as of June 30, 2015: 3,739.
  • Increase over the year before: 699.
  • Full- and part-time workers employed by U.S. breweries: 115,469.
  • Premium beer’s share of A-B InBev’s U.S. sales: 63 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s U.S. sales: 2 percent.
  • Shock Top’s share of A-B InBev’s U.S. craft beer sales: 50 percent.
  • A-B InBev’s share of the U.S. beer market: 45 percent.
  • MillerCoors’s share of the U.S. beer market: 26 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of the U.S. beer market: 11 percent.
  • Beer drinkers arrested for DUI in Napa County, California, in 2014: 361.
  • Wine drinkers arrested for DUI in Napa County in 2014: 114.
  • Tap handles at the Raleigh (North Carolina) Beer Garden: 366 (believed to be the world’s most).
  • Locally-brewed beers on tap at the Raleigh Beer Garden: 144.
  • Percent of the price of beer attributable to taxes in Mississippi: 60 (highest in the nation).
  • Percent attributable to taxes in Montana and Oregon: 32 (lowest in the nation).
  • A Short History of the Beer Can

    In the past few years, hundreds of craft breweries began canning their beer. It wasn’t an easy decision because canned beer was associated with national-brand lagers, and canning equipment was an expensive investment for small breweries.

    Even though canned foods date back to 1813, it took more another century, and then some, for a brewery to successfully put its beer in cans. In 1933, the American Can Company invented a can that was strong enough to hold a pressurized carbonated liquid lined with a coating that prevented metallic tastes from flavoring the beer. Two years later, the Kreuger Brewing Company test-marketed two of its beers in Richmond, Virginia.

    Kreuger’s cans were a success, but there was plenty of room for improvement. The early cans were made of heavy steel coated with a thin layer of tin to prevent rusting. Those gave way to aluminum cans, first used by the Hawaii Brewing Company in 1958. Nowadays, cans are made out of an aluminum alloy, which is even lighter weight and more resistant to rusting.

    The beer can’s shape also changed over time. Early cans looked like cylinders with flat tops and bottoms. The next generation of cans had cone tops, which became popular with small breweries because they were easier to fill and could be sealed with the same crown caps as glass bottles. By the late 1950s, however, cone-top cans were replaced by cylindrical cans with flat tops and bottoms.

    Opening canned beer has gotten easier as well. The original flat-top cans required a device called a “church key”, which punctured a triangular hole at the top of the can, out of which a person could drink, and a second, smaller hole on the opposite side to let air into the can and allow the beer to flow. In 1962, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company released a can with a “zip top,” a small flat tab riveted to the center of the can’s top that could be pulled back to puncture the can. Three years later, a pull ring, similar to those used in cans of pet food, replaced the flat tab. However, the discarded tabs created an environmental problem. In 1975, Reynolds Metals Company solved it with a “stay-tab,” which is now standard technology in beer and pop cans worldwide.

    Canned craft beer has several advantages: it can be hermetically sealed; it cools faster than bottled beer; and it’s friendlier to outdoor activities. As for the belief that canned craft beer tastes of metal, that has long since been debunked.

    Powered by WordPress