Book Review: Canned! Artwork of the Modern American Beer Can

Remember the first time you saw a craft beer in a can? You probably scoffed at it. I knew I did. I wasn’t familiar with Oskar Blues the first time I saw it in stores, and I’ll be honest. I was confused.

Reading the can, it read like a good craft beer. It said it was from Colorado, which was good, but could this be another Coors crafty not craft ploy?

9780764345630bMany years have passed since that first can experience, and I am sure many of my younger readers think there is nothing odd about craft beer in a can. After all, in many ways it is a much better vessel for beer. It lets in no light. Has an excellent seal. It’s better for the environment as its a better recycled material. Those are just some of the advantages for the consumer.

The brewer also likes that this is a near perfect vessel to store beer. It means it will deliver a better product to the consumer. Cans are also a lot easier to store, since they are so stackable. And the weight comes into play too. Any time you ship beer, weight can be an issue, and while it doesn’t seem like much, those grams add up when you are shipping a truckload of beer.

For the pioneer of craft cans, Oskar Blues, cans set them apart. Today we see craft cans as normal. But they still have the ability to create a standout quality. Especially when you see a can wrapped in beautiful art from seam to seam.

Author Russ Phillips was apparently smitten with the idea of craft cans. In 2009 he and his brother Kelly founded A web site dedicated to our beloved beer in cans. His site includes reviews, news, and an impressive database for most (close to all) canned craft beer available across the country.

9780764345630cPhillips just released his first book: Canned! Artwork of the Modern American Beer Can. This book is a beautifully presented homage to the beautiful simplicity of canned beer.

Canned begins with the craft pioneer of craft cans Dale Katechis providing a foreword that tells a bit about his tale at the beginning of craft canning. Explaining how at first it was a tough sell with craft beer enthusiasts. But lucky for us, Oskar Blues succeeded and created the evolution of AmeriCAN craft brewing.

The book creates a journey across the country detailing breweries by region. Each page gives a profile of not just the beer contained in the can, but the brewery and the can itself.

Cans provide nearly 100% coverage of artwork. This creates a great canvas for the brewery to present their style. From the understated simplicity of Modern Times to the over the top Ralph Steadman designed Flying Dog cans. Each can represent the style and attitude of the brewery.

fdsnakedog mtblackhouseBeing a Mid-Atlantic guy I was a little disappointed by a few omissions. Stillwater Artisanal is known for the beauty of the label art on bottles, and their can art is just as impressive. While their can lineup is limited at this point, it is still gorgeous. Another omission was Ozzy from the Brewer’s Art. I wanted to see this in the book, not just because it’s a cool kick-ass can, but the production run is ending. I wanted to see this can live on in at least the printed form.

This book makes a great coffee table (ie beer table) book for any tap room, and it’s great for any beer enthusiast that wants to discover the beauty of can art from far away little known brewers. I showed this book to a local brewer that is looking at canning, and they were excited to see such a great presentation of canned beer. In fact he said to me, “I wish I had seen this before designing our cans.”


978-0-7643-4563-0BOOK DETAILS
ISBN: 978-0-7643-4563-0
Size: 11″ x 8 1/2″
Illustrations: 948 color photos
Pages: 208
Binding: hard cover
Price: $34.99
Purchase from Amazon: Click Here