Thursday, January 24

Gottfried Kicked the Bucket

Image courtesy
of Ale
By Grant Davies

On this day in 1935, one of the most important innovations in history was introduced to a test audience. It received a 90% approval rating with that group, and that was enough to set a whole industry humming with its new offering.

The product itself was fairly new, only about 6000 years old, and was still being tested by a lot of people. I still test it myself to this very day. Almost every day.

But it was the method of delivery that was innovative, not the product itself. The product needed an improved method of packaging so it could be delivered more efficiently.

You see, the product was liquid. And before this time it tended to spill during delivery and it didn't keep well after it arrived. First it was carried in small buckets, and later it was packaged in glass bottles.

The bottles, even though far superior than the pails, had plenty of drawbacks. They were heavy, tended to break easily, and had to be washed out before being re-filled again. They also were expensive as hell and the end user had to pay a deposit on them each time they were purchased.

image courtesy of
Dan Morean's
So on this day back then, a company named Gottfried Krueger did something no one else had tried; it put its product into a can. Of course various foods had been canned before, but not this most precious of all liquids, beer.

Once the whole brewing industry caught up, and canned beer became commonplace, people could get sloshed in their own homes without worrying that the golden nectar itself would slosh out while their 12 year old sons carried it home from the local gin mill, er..ale house, in a bucket. (Today, they put the bottles inside a bucket and sell them during "happy hour." Progress is a beautiful thing.)

Without this innovation my teen-aged friends and I couldn't have poked a hole in the bottom of a beer can, put it up to our mouths, and simultaneously popped the pull ring on the top so we could drink an entire beer in about 4 seconds. Think of all the fun we would have missed.

I guess you had to be there...

Editors note -- Permission to use the images of the early beer cans was not in time for original publication of the article, but I think they are very rare and quite interesting so they are being added now. The site they were taken from is quite interesting if you like "breweriana." In fact the site can be found at

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