Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Booknote: Canned!

Russ Phillips, Canned! Artwork of the Modern American Beer Can. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2014. ISBN:  9780764345630.

This is definitely a book for folks who collect beer cans. It is a book to browse, and for me, it was a book that I really liked. Beer aficionados, especially folks who like microbrews and locally-crafted brands will enjoy this catalog of beer cans. History buffs will probably enjoy it as well.

The book features a foreword, written by Dale Katechis, owner and founder of Oskar Blues Brewery. Next, we get a short essay on the modern American beer can. Modern American in this context means the United States. We are also looking at microbrews and local state breweries. You are not going to see big megabrands like Budweiser or Miller in this book. After the foreword and opening essay, the book features a chapter with a brief history of American beer cans. Next, we get eleven chapters of beer cans and their art, organized by geographical regions. The book includes very nice photos of the cans; many of the cans are multiple views, say front and back views of cans or art layouts. Each can is highlighted with information boxes that include the following information:

  • brand name
  • company/brewery name
  • location
  • the artist's name who designed the label
  • the beer style (ale, pilsner, so on)
  • a paragraph with history and trivia
The book includes existing brands as well as brands that are no longer with us. If you enjoy trivia, this is certainly a book for you. It reveals not just the beer cans, but a very diverse presentation of classic Americana. The art in the cans reflects the diversity of the United States and its regions. It is art that puts the many styles and unique local elements of the nation on display. I had no idea beer can art could be so neat and diverse. Beer lovers will like this book.

Public libraries, especially ones in towns with one or more of the breweries featured in the book, may want to add this to their collections. If they also collect Americana, this would be a very good addition. I would also say that some academic libraries that collect American or have strong programs in art and advertising may consider adding this to their collections.

I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

 Disclosure: The mandatory stuff I have to type to tell you that I read this as an e-book review copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. You know, so The Man is satisfied everything is kosher.

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