By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 26, 2017
Courtesy of Erin Genett

Today marks the 82nd birthday of the beer can – first introduced on January 24, 1935, as the packaging for Krueger’s Cream Ale and Krueger’s Finest Beer. For previous generations, the beer can was simply the vessel of choice for macro-beer swilling fisherman. But in recent years, the can’s reputation has turned around and become the trendy choice for many of the best craft breweries around the world.

To celebrate just how far the beer can has come, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest developments for the packaging last year alone…

Big Breweries Started Canning Their Beer

If you still thought canning craft beers was a fad bound destined to die, 2016 once again proved you wrong: Last year, some of the biggest names in craft brewing jumped into the canning craze for the first time including Stone (10th largest craft brewer), Dogfish Head (16th), New Glarus (20th) and Left Hand (39th).

Samuel Adam Makes American Nitro Cans Mainstream

Speaking of big names in craft brewing, Samuel Adams started out 2016 by introducing a line of widget-enhanced “nitro cans.” These kinds of cans, which replace beer’s typical carbon dioxide bubbles with smaller nitrogen bubbles thanks to help of a little plastic apparatus inside, have proven popular for Guinness but up until now were virtually unheard of coming from an American brewer.

Best-Selling Craft Can Consolidation

The craft beer canning craze all started with Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale – the first canned craft beer back in 2002. And interestingly, according to market research firm IRI Worldwide, in 2016, Dale’s Pale was still the country’s top-selling craft can six-pack at US supermarkets. But here’s an even more intriguing storyline: The second best-selling craft six-pack last year was Jai Alai IPA – a brew made by Florida’s Cigar City Brewing, which was bought out this past March by… Oskar Blues.

First 8-ounce American Craft Beer Can

Though 12-ounce cans are the standard, and 16-ounce pint-sized cans are favored by stud breweries like The Alchemist, this past July, Indianapolis’s Flat 12 Bierwerks became the first American craft brewery to release a beer in tiny 8-ounce cans. Fittingly, the beer in question was Pinko!, a 10 percent ABV Russian Imperial Stout best enjoyed in moderation.

First Album Released on a Beer Can

Convincing people to pay for music in the era of streaming can be tricky, so why not sweeten the deal with some beer? This past November, a Massachusetts band called The Lights Out teamed up with their local Aeronaut Brewing Company to put out T.R.I.P – billed as the first album ever released on a beer can. No, sadly, the can doesn’t spin around on a needle like an old-timey cylinder phonograph; instead, it simply includes instructions on how to download the record. Still, an interesting concept none the less.