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Home » Beer Cans

My beer cans: Peter Hand Old Chicago

Submitted by on March 28, 2010 – 8:25 amOne Comment

Photo by Gerard WalenThis is how it began.

My friend Keith, a Chicago native whose family moved to my Tampa, Florida, neighborhood in the 1970s, brought this over to my house one day. His brother visiting from the Windy City brought a care package of hometown treats to Keith’s family, among them a case of Peter Hand Old Chicago beer.

As I recall, this was early 1976, which means Keith and I were 15 years old. Naturally, Keith pinched a can from his old man’s fridge and brought it over to my house, where we shared it. I honestly don’t recall the flavor of the lager, but being 15, it must have tasted good.

After draining the can, I put it up on a shelf. Thus began a decade or so of my being a casual beer can collector. I never pursued it with a passion, but I did accumulate about 80 cans, many with stories attached that I will share here on occasion.

This Old Chicago can has an aluminum body with a steel top and bottom, as you can tell from the rust that developed along the edges. It had an old-fashioned pull top.

In researching the Peter Hand Brewing Co., I discovered that it had only a few more years to exist after I shared that can of Old Chicago with my friend.

According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, Prussian immigrant Peter Hand founded the brewery, which also made Meister Brau, in 1891. Hand died just eight years later. The brewery survived Prohibition and was sold in 1965. But it began losing money and in 1972, Peter Hand Brewing Co. sold the Meister Brau and some other brands to Milwaukee’s Miller Brewing Co. Once a part of a thriving Chicago beer industry, Peter Hand was the city’s last major brewery when it closed in 1978.

But fear not, beer road trippers. Chicago is now home to several microbreweries, among them Goose Island, Metropolitan Brewing and Half Acre Beer Co.

Do you have a beer can collection? I welcome you to share a photo and story here. Just e-mail gerard@roadtripsforbeer.com.

One Comment »

  • TOM BARRETT says:

    there was all so a dark old chicago beer i was from chicago grew up colling beer cans in 1970s in chicago tom tuc az

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