Wine labels have recently received acclaim for their more astute designs so its high time beer branders were awarded the same salute. A new coffee table-topper from Chronicle Books, Beer: A Genuine Collection of Cans, peers into the 1,400-plus collection of beer can-enthusiast John Russo and presents nearly 500 of the most interesting finds that represent craft breweries now out of business and iconic brands that have continually altered their image throughout the last half decade. Compiled by Dan Becker (Russo's stepson) and Lance Wilson, the book is a glimpse of drinking days of yore and an ode to the long lost cone top and crowntainer cans. Bottoms up!
Russo began collecting beer cans during the summer of fifth grade. By the time the first school bell of the fall was ringing, he'd racked up more than 300 cans and his father was bringing back more whenever he traveled for business. After years in boxes, Russo's wife encouraged him to proudly display them, at which time Becker finally became privy to their beauty.
Once prohibition was lifted, The Lion Brewery, Inc. of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, set about serving its beer—Gibbons Ale—in these black-and-gold cans.
A can from the Esslinger's Inc. Brewery from the 1940s and 1950s featuring the Philadelphia company's mascot, the "Little Man."
M. K. Goetz Brewing Co.'s Country Club lager, made in St. Joseph, Missouri, in the 1940s and 1950s.
Los Angeles's Maier Brewing Co. sold "the aristocrat of beer" in this can in the 1950s.
San Francisco's Acme Brewing Co. was one of the first California breweries to sell their beer in cans. This one dates to the second half of the 1950s.
A can of Reading Brewing Co.'s light beer from Philadelphia dating to the 1970s.
A can of Duke beer—brewed by the Duquesne Brewing Co. based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—dating to the 1970s through 1980s.
This can, produced in the 1980s by Falstaff Brewing Co. in Cranston, Rhode Island, gets straight to the point.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Genesee Brewing Co., Inc. hocked its brew in these daisy-covered cans.