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Drewry's Series Cans

Drewry's Set Cans

During the 1950s most of the small breweries that had opened when prohibition ended in 1934 had gone out of business and most of the remaining ones were struggling.  Even some medium-sized regional breweries were struggling.  To boost business, a number of the remaining breweries tried a different marketing strategy; sets with cans in different colors and designs.  This made the cans seem more "fun" and party-like and the brewers hoped people would buy extra for parties in addition to everyday home consumption.  The designs would also increase the can's "eye-appeal" and make the brand stand out from the rest on the store shelves.

One of the most prolific breweries to follow this strategy was Drewry's Brewing of South Bend , Indiana which was in business from 1936-1966 when it became part of Associated Brewing.    Drewry's produced several multi-colored series, three with silhouettes of sports figures on them, one that told you how to tell your character by the shape of your nose, chin, face, etc. (Of course, all of the character traits were positive!)   My favorite, however is the horoscope series which had cans each with two different star signs on them, plus a description of the traits associated with that astrological sign.  The sets began about 1954 and ended in about 1958.

Drewrys poster. Drewry's sign advertising from one of the first two sets.


This page examines the 5 Drewry's sets and lists all the cans in each set.  The dates for each set are as best as I can determine and may be off by a year or so.  I am still looking for six-pack holders, signs, ads, etc., from these sets!

Three of the five sets were produced by both the South Bend and Chicago breweries.  In each case, the Chicago cans are harder to find.  The cans were made by both National Can and by American Can.   The American Can Company cans have a small "C" on those filled in Chicago and an "S" on those filled by South Bend.

 

American Can Company S can from South Bend. The "S" means this can was filled in South Bend. Cans filled in Chicago have a "C". This applies only to cans made by American Can Company, those made by National Can have no such letters.


Set 1: Silver Sports Silhouettes Series: 1954

The logo on the front of this can is an oval. The player silhouettes on these cans are silver.  This may be the hardest 12 oz set to complete.  They were made only in South Bend.


Color Notes
Blue  
Bronze  
Green  
Purple  
Red  
Yellow often looks gold.

Set 2: White Sports Silhouettes Series #1: 1955

The logo on the front of this can is an oval. The player silhouettes on these cans are white. All these cans come from South Bend.

 

Color Notes
Blue  
Bronze  
Green  
Purple  
Red  
Yellow often looks gold.

Set 3: White Sports Silhouettes Series #2: 1956

The logo on the front of this can is a shield. The player silhouettes on these cans are white. All these cans come from both Chicago and South Bend


 

Color Notes
Blue  
Bronze  
Green  
Purple  
Red  
Yellow often looks gold.

Set 4: The Horoscope Series: 1957

My favorite set.  There are six different cans, each with two astrological signs.  Each design comes in three different colors.  There is one "missing" can that is not listed in either the USBC or in the Catalog of US Beer Cans.  According to an email I received from a collector, the "missing" can is gold colored (see chart below)

Front of Drewry's horoscope series can.

Can Design Chicago/South Bend Color Notes

Capricorn/Aquarius

SB gold  
Capricorn/Aquarius C purple  
Capricorn/Aquarius SB green  

Pisces/Aries 

C/SB green common from South Bend. 
Pisces/Aries C orange  
Pisces/Aries SB gold  

Taurus/Gemini 

SB bronze  not pictured in USBC
Taurus/Gemini C green  Can from South Bend not in USBC. 
Taurus/Gemini SB red-orange  

Cancer/Leo 

C/SB blue South Bend can possibly the most common of set?
Cancer/Leo SB purple  
Cancer/Leo C red  
Virgo/Libra Drewery's Horoscope series-Virgo.Drewery's Horoscope series-Libra. C/SB red Common from South Bend.. 
Virgo/Libra SB red-orange  Not pictured in USBC
Virgo/Libra C/SB blue South Bend can not pictured in USBC.
Scorpio/Sagittarius Drewery's Horoscope series-Scorpio.Drewery's Horoscope series-Sagittarius. SB blue common
Scorpio/Sagittarius C/SB purple common from South Bend
Scorpio/Sagittarius C Gold thanks Rod S.!

 

Set 5:  The Character Series: 1958

This set has six designs and each design should have appeared in three colors each.  However, there are three cans in this set I can not account for that are not listed in either the USBC or in the Catalog of US Beer Cans, so the set MAY have had 15 cans instead of 18.  I think it more likely that I just haven't found the missing three colors as of yet.  This set also comes in 16 ounce cans, 1 color per design, that is fairly scarce.

Front of Drewerys Character can.

Front of  Drewry's character series can.

Can Design Chicago/South Bend Color Notes

Dimples/lips 

Drewery's Character series-Lips.Drewery's Character series-dimples.

C/SB green  
Dimples/Lips  SB light green not listed in USBC 
Dimples/Lips  ? ? not listed in USBC.
Ear/Nose Drewery's Character series-EarsDrewery's Character series-Nose. SB bronze not listed in USBC
Ear/Nose C/SB orange  
Ear/Nose SB red not listed in USBC
Eyebrows/Chin Drewery's Character series-eyebrows.Drewery's Character series-Chin. SB purple not listed in USBC.
Eyebrows/Chin C/SB purple-red  
Eyebrows/Chin C/SB light blue scarce 
Forehead/Eyes Drewery's Character series-Forehead.Drewery's Character series-Eyes. C/SB red  
Forehead/Eyes ? ? not listed in USBC 
Forehead/Eyes SB orange not listed in USBC
Face: Heart-Oval Drewerys Character can-Heart shaped face.Drewerys Character Can-Oval face, C/SB blue  
Face: Heart-Oval C reddish purple  
Face: Heart-Oval SB purple 
Face: Square-Round Drewery's Character series-Square Face.Drewery's Character series-Round Face. C/SB blue  
Face: Square-Round  ? not listed in USBC
Face: Square-Round C/SB purple  


 There is also a set of 16 oz Drewry's Character cans. They're pretty scarce.

Can Design USBC Color Notes
blue can.blue can. 228-9 blue  
  229-10 bronze  
lips.dimples. 229-11 green  
  229-12 purple  
  229-13 red  
chin.eyebrows. 229-14 yellow  

Thanks to Steve D. for the photos of the green and yellow cans!

The Mountie loses his horse!

The Drewry's Mountie had been part of its logo for decades by the 1950s.  The Mountie, and his faithful horse, were front and center on the earliest Drewry's cans.  However, on the 1950s series cans he began to fade into the background.  See my "Mountie" page for more info.

Sources used:

Beer Can Collectors of America. Catalog of American Beer Cans. (1993)

Beer Can Collectors of America.  United States Beer Cans (Beer Can Collectors of America: Fenton, Mo)  54-57.

Kay, Bob. "'Mining' Labels...Drewry's: A Case Study"  The Breweriana Collector (Fall 1999) 24-25.

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