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COM: May 2012

Churchkey Beer, 2012

Churchkey micro can. Churchkey micro can. Churchkey micro can.

This is a new can from a micro (or craft) brewery, the Churchkey Can Company of Portland, Oregon. However, it's a bit different from other craft brewery cans. Other breweries, such as Washington's DC Brau are using aluminum cans. And, of course, they have the normal StaTab type opening on top. But Churchkey decided to go with a steel flat top can, a deliberate throwback to the pre-pulltab cans which went out of style in the 1960s.

It's lighter than the old flat top cans. The Churchkey can weighs 2.3 oz's. A 1935 Krueger weighed in at 3.3 oz's. and a 1950s flat I tried weighed 2.7 oz's. However, the first batch of cans ran into a slight problem, a bulging lid. (See photo below). The one pictured below was in my refrigerator but warmed up when we lost power for 40+ hours after the recent Derecho hit Washington, DC (opens new window). After 24 hours without power everything in our refrigerator was warm. The beer in this can apparently started to ferment a bit more and POP. I am told that they are working on this problem, and I suspect that the next batch of cans will have a pressure bead just like you'll find on the old flat top cans.

bulge. UPDATE. Yep, they tried the pressure bead around the rim of the can. And yes, it still bulged.


Breweries back in the 1930s and 1940s (and even into the 1950s) often included a churchkey opener with their cans, so customers had something to use open the cans. That's one reason why churchkeys are such a common collectable--the breweries gave away tons of them! Not everybody saved them. A few times I've dumped a churchkey along with the cans it (presumably) came with. In one dump full of hundreds of 1939 Pabst cans we found a couple dozen churchkeys. Following the same retro theme, Churchkey Company included a churchkey opener with each six pack. (see right)

One nice touch on these cans is the opening instruction panel on the side, which many of the original cans had as well. It shows you how to open this new-fangled (or old-fangled) type of can.

As for the beer, I'm told it's a pretty good pilsner. It was made by Two Beers Brewing in Seattle (link opens a new window) but from a recipe developed by the founders of Churchkey.

Churchkey sixpack.

UPDATE: Because of the can bulge problem, production of Churchkey was suspended in October 2012. They hope to begin production again once they solve the problem.

bulging top. second can.
BULGE! 1st lid design and the 2d.

And Finally....

FYI, Churchkey won the BCCA's "US Can of the Year" at the 2013 Canvention.

Sources Used

Churchkey's official Website (opens new window)

Philips, Russ. "Churchkey Can Company Brings Back the Flat Top" Beer Cans & Brewery Collectables 42/3 (June/July 2012)

"Church Key Company on Hiatus" Brewbound.com


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