What are the different types of beer can tops?

Answered by Joseph Vos

When it comes to can tops, there are several different types, each with its own unique design and purpose. As a sommelier and brewer, I have had the opportunity to work with and appreciate these various types of beer can tops. In this answer, I will provide a detailed explanation of each type, drawing from my personal experiences and knowledge.

1. Standard Pull Tab: This is perhaps the most common type of beer can top that we encounter. It features a simple pull tab that is attached to the can's lid. To open the can, you simply pull the tab upward, creating a small opening for drinking. The convenience of the pull tab makes it a popular choice for many beer brands. However, one downside is that once opened, the tab is detached from the can, and can be easily misplaced or become litter. This type of beer can top is commonly found in both low-profile and high-profile cans.

2. Stay-on Tab: The stay-on tab, also known as the “push tab” or “push button” top, is a design that addresses the issue of the detached pull tab. Instead of completely removing the tab, it remains attached to the can after opening. This prevents the tab from getting lost and reduces litter. To open the can, you push the tab inside the can, creating an opening for drinking. The stay-on tab is especially popular in countries where littering is a concern or where recycling efforts are emphasized.

3. Cone-top Can: The cone-top can is a classic type that was commonly used in the mid-20th century. It consists of three pieces – a cylindrical body, a cone-shaped top, and a flat bottom. The cone-shaped top allows for easy pouring of the beer into a glass. This type of can was popular among smaller breweries as it provided a cost-effective packaging option. Today, cone-top cans are often sought after by collectors and beer enthusiasts for their nostalgic appeal.

4. Crowntainer: The crowntainer is another vintage beer can top design that was popular in the mid-20th century. Unlike the cone-top can, the crowntainer is a one-piece can with a concave bottom. It features a crown cap, similar to those used on glass bottles, which is crimped onto the can's opening. The crowntainer was introduced as a way to differentiate beer cans from other cans, such as or cans. While not as commonly used today, the crowntainer holds a special place in beer can history.

In addition to these main types, there have been various other innovations and designs in beer can tops over the years. Some examples include the wide-mouth can, which allows for easier drinking and pouring, and the vented can, which features a small vent to enhance the flow of beer when poured. These innovations aim to improve the drinking experience and preserve the quality of the beer.

The different types of beer can tops offer a range of options for both brewers and consumers. From the standard pull tab to the nostalgic cone-top and crowntainer designs, each type has its own unique characteristics and history. As a sommelier and brewer, I appreciate the variety and innovation in beer can tops, as they contribute to the overall enjoyment of beer.