The first canned beer went on sale in Richmond, VA in January 1935. The Gottfried Krueger Brewery led the pack, having invented a keg-lining technique that coated the inside of the can the same as you would a keg. By the end of that year, 37 breweries produced canned beer.
More from Wired.com on the Krueger Brewery’s first batch of canned beer:
Canned beer was an immediate success. The public loved it, giving it a 91 percent approval rating. Compared to glass, the cans were lightweight, cheap, and easy to stack and ship. Unlike bottles, you didn’t have to pay a deposit and then return the cans for a refund. By summer Krueger was buying 180,000 cans a day from American Can, and other breweries decided to follow.
The first cans were flat-topped and made of heavy-gauge steel. To open, a hole had to be punched in the top with the sharp end of a church-key style opener.
Some breweries tried out cans with conical rather than flat tops, but they didn’t stack and ship as easily. Cone tops were sealed with a crown cap just like the cap of a glass beer bottle.
Canning was interrupted between 1942 and 1947 to devote resources to World War II. Aluminum cans, cheaper and lighter still, were introduced in 1958.