I blog primarily over at "geosciblog" (http://geosciblog.blogspot.com), I am doing this one for fun. It is inspired by 30+ years of beer can collecting and having tried more than 3,000 different American beers during that time. “. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Lone Star Flat Top and the P-38

[Not the fighter plane, but the military can-opener.]

Here is another can I picked up at our recent brewery collectibles show at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a Lone Star "soft top" from the early 1960s. The soft top was a step along the way towards the pull-tab top. Some of the brands that used the soft top were Schlitz, Budweiser and Busch (on aluminum cans), Hamms, Walter's, Pearl, Black Label, Point Special, and even Iron City.

I picked up this can to replace one of the cans that I regrettably sold years ago, while I was selling off large portions of my collection to pay bills. When ya got a family, ya do what ya gotta do.

I had found a couple of these cans in May or early June 1978, when I began what was to have been my original thesis project in the Eagle Mts. in West Texas.

When we selected our first campsite, next to a windmill and well (always a good idea in a desert or semi-desert setting), after the tents were set up and scoping out the campsite, I noticed a couple of Lone Star cans under a mequite bush. Carefully crawling under the mesquite, avoiding its thorns, I retrieved the two cans. One of the cans was full and the other one had its top removed with a P-38 military-style can opener. One side of the full can was buried in the mesquite needles, while the exposed side was sun-bleached and rusted. The other cans was more buried in the needles and more protected.

The question immediately arose, why did someone go to the trouble of completely removing the top of the can with a P-38, to presumably drink the beer? And then not drink the other one.

Sometime later, elsewhere in the campsite, I found a Lone Star can opener, which seemed to offer some evidence as to what might have happened a some 15 years earlier.

Presumably, the person/persons at the campsite (on a ranch) first lost their can opener (a common tragedy in pre-pull tab days), then decided to open a can with the P-38. Perhaps the second can was deemed to much trouble to open in this fashion or perhaps it had gotten too warm by then and the full can was tossed along with the empty (and its removed top) under the mesquite.

Otherwise, while in the Eagle Mts., I found a displayable Pearl flat top can and some fellow grad students gave me a different (older) Lone Star, which I still have on my shelves. In their study area, there was an old ranch house, used by hunters. I would have loved to have had a step ladder to check the attic area, as there was an opening from the main room. Tossing empties into attics was a common practice and the cans are usually fairly well preserved. It just wasn't doable, looking back, maybe I could have brought a step ladder in my truck on a return trip from El Paso, but the geological work was deemed more important.

[Because of a series of unfortunate events, I didn't finish that thesis project, but did another thesis project in southern New Mexico a few years later.]

The four displayable cans found in the Eagle Mts. represent the sum total of displayable beer cans found during my outdoor geological career, i.e., during field work over the course of 30 years. I have a found a number of rusty, unidentifiable cans, but no other "keepers".



Saturday, August 01, 2009

236 Beers in 213 Days...

in the "365 beers for 2009" project.

Today's addition was Caldera Ashland Amber, from Oregon, which I picked up while in Oklahoma.

Maybe sometime soon I will add the year-to-date list.

I may have one more for the evening.

Can Close-Up - Falstaff 11 oz.

I have to admit I have been remiss about actual beer can blogging, lately. So I decided to blog about a couple of cans I picked up at our recent show at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (last Friday/Saturday).

The white flat top can pictured is from the late 1950s/early 1960s. Falstaff was a big seller at that time, and they had a number of breweries at that time, so this is not a rare can per se, except for a minor detail, it is an 11 oz can, rather than a 12 oz can.

On this can and the previous white flattop can, Falstaff listed the brewery at which the can was filled, along with the other cities along the side seam of the can. As I lived in El Paso for 14 years, this being an El Paso can makes it of interest. What is highly unusual about this is that it is an 11 oz can from a state where 11 oz cans were not sold.

Though I don't know the exact story behind the 11 and 15 oz cans sold in some western states, it was probably done for "tax loophole" reasons, i.e., to avoid the taxes on 12 and 16 oz. cans. In VA, SC, and LA, breweries avoided size-specific taxes by selling 10 and 14 oz. cans. The 14 oz cans proved popular enough that sales spread to other southern states, such as MS and GA. Brands such as Budweiser, Busch, Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, Meister Brau, Black Label, Falstaff, Burger, and National Bohemian were among those sold in the 14 oz cans in these states. Within the last 5 years, I seem to remember Old Milwaukee being sold in 14 oz cans in Louisiana.

In the western states of CA, WA, OR, UT, CO, NM, and AZ, 11 and (less commonly) 15 oz cans seem to be analagous to the 10 and 14 oz cans mentioned above, though the 11 oz cans were phased out earlier than the 14 oz cans. Some brands sold in 11 oz cans in these states included Coors, Schlitz, Olympia, Rainier, Black Label, Big Sky, Cascade, Sierra, Hamms, and Falstaff. Falstaff 11 oz flat top cans from San Jose, CA are not really unusual.

An 11 oz. Falstaff can from El Paso IS HIGHLY UNUSUAL. Coupled with the San Jose top (suggesting it was indeed filled in San Jose), it makes for some interesting possibilities. It just seems that with the San Jose brewery in production, why would they make 11 oz. cans for the El Paso brewery, when 11 oz cans could probably not be sold in Texas? I think it is likely an error can, i.e., the canning company made up a batch of 11 oz cans (slightly smaller in diameter) by mistake and El Paso being unable to use them, the batch was sent to San Jose for filling.

Such an oddity would primarily be of interest to Falstaff-specific collectors or Texas-specific collectors. Picking up a can with a story behind it is part of what makes the hobby interesting.

Another unusual Texas can I would like to get at some time would be a Carling Black Label from Fort Worth. Carling operated their newly-built Fort Worth brewery for perhaps 3 months before selling it to Miller around 1964 or so.



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