Dan Becker and Lance Wilson—two San Francisco, CA-based designers— discovered a real gem when they stumbled upon Becker’s stepdad John Russo’s extensive beer can collection tucked away in his Midwest basement. Hoarding cans since 1975, the collection spans all shapes, styles and sizes of brews from around the world, which thankfully the duo decided to photograph and document in a book that they aptly titled “Beer.”
The document lends some insight into the evolution of beer can design and the changing conversation with the consumer through its 500 images (shaved down from 1,400). Meticulously chosen, the photographs represent beers from 32 countries and you’d be hard-pressed to find any of these brands in the local corner store. Each picture, shot against a white background, includes the company name and the time period, some with more detailed descriptions. The layout—which the authors say very much guided their editing process—allows the reader to truly absorb the details of the cans and appreciate the story each has to tell.
An excellent resource, the book comes in handy for not only the history of beer can design but also as a who’s who of beer distributors. Almost everyone is familiar with powerhouse brewing cities like Milwaukee or countries like Germany, but many don’t realize the extensive amount of brews that were crafted in places like Cincinnati, OH or upstate New York. A timeline shows the evolution of the industry and of the industrial design that went with it. Over the decades the images bear witness to the aesthetic shift in the marketing of alcohol, reflecting a gradual drifting away from simplicity and storytelling.