Beer is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages around the world. It comes in many styles and packaging formats – from bottles and cans to kegs and casks. When drinking beer from a can, one question consumers often wonder is how many ounces of beer are actually in a standard can? This article will provide a comprehensive answer to that question as well as delve deeper into beer can sizes, ounces per can, and other related facts. Keep reading to learn all about beer can sizes and how many ounces are in a typical beer can.
Quick Answer: How Many Ounces are in a Can of Beer?
The quick answer is that a standard beer can in the United States contains 12 ounces of beer. So if you pick up a single beer can, whether it’s a mass-produced light lager or a craft IPA, that can will contain 12 fluid ounces of beer. This 12-ounce size is the standard for most beer brands sold in cans today.
Some additional quick facts about ounces in a beer can:
- There are approximately 355 milliliters (mL) in a 12-ounce beer can.
- 1 ounce equals 29.57 milliliters.
- Some cans may contain 16 ounces or other sizes, but 12 ounces is the norm.
- Cans were designed to hold 12 ounces as a convenient single-serving size.
So in summary, a standard beer can in the US is 12 ounces. Now let’s look at this in more detail, including the history of beer can sizes.
History of Beer Can Sizes
Beer has been packaged in cans since the 1930s, but cans did not always hold 12 ounces. Here is a quick history of beer can sizes in the United States:
- 1930s – First beer cans hold 6.5 ounces.
- 1935 – Most beer cans contain 8 ounces.
- 1936 – Some brands experiment with 13.5-ounce cans.
- 1952 – 12-ounce cans become the standard size.
- 1960s – Aluminum cans replace steel.
- 1970s – Lighter, thinner aluminum cans introduced.
In the early days, cans were made of heavy steel and could not hold large volumes. As canning technology improved, 12 ounces became the standard size as it was a convenient single serving of beer. By the 1970s, cans became very light with thin aluminum, allowing them to hold up to 16 ounces. But despite the larger options, 12 ounces remains the typical can size today, especially for mass-market lagers.
With this history in mind, let’s take a closer look at common beer can sizes available today.
Common Beer Can Sizes
Here are some of the most common beer can sizes seen today:
- The standard can size in the US.
- Holds 355mL of beer.
- Used for major beer brands like Budweiser, Coors, Miller, etc.
- Also common for craft beers and imports.
- Provides one serving of beer.
- Called tallboys or pounders.
- Holds 473mL of beer, 1.3 times a regular can.
- Used for higher ABV beers and craft brews.
- Provides 1.3 servings per can.
- Also known as Imperial pints.
- Holds 710mL, 2 times a regular can.
- Seen in mostly craft beers and malt liquor.
- Provides 2 servings per can.
- A very large can also called a crowler.
- Holds 946mL, 2.7 times a regular can.
- Used for high ABV craft beers to share.
- Provides 2-3 servings per can.
As you can see, the standard 12-ounce can accounts for the majority of beer cans sold. But craft breweries and specialty beers may come in 16, 24, or even 32-ounce cans. Now let’s look closer at the 12-ounce beer can.
Details on the 12-Ounce Beer Can
Since the 12-ounce can is the standard for beer, it’s worth exploring its dimensions, design, and more in-depth. Here are some details on the 12-ounce beer can:
- Height: 4.83 inches
- Diameter: 2.13 inches
- Constructed from aluminum for reduced weight
- Thin aluminum walls, ranging from 0.004 to 0.0055 inches thick
- Cylindrical shape for strength and packing efficiency
- Opening method is a pull-tab lid
- Durable to resist dents and damage
- Designed to be held in one hand
- Provides ideal amount of headspace for carbonation
You’ll notice that details like the can height, diameter, and wall thickness are very standardized across breweries. This ensures the cans function properly and also facilitates high-speed canning operations.
Interestingly, the pull-tab opening method was not invented until 1962. Before that, cans required a separate can piercer tool to punch an opening. The pull-tab represented a major innovation, making opening beer cans much quicker and easier.
So in summary, the 12-ounce beer can is carefully engineered and designed for optimal convenience, strength, and performance. It has become the gold standard for beer vessels.
Advantages of the 12-Ounce Beer Can
There are many good reasons why the 12-ounce can has endured as the preferred beer package:
The small size and cylindrical shape make these cans highly portable. They can fit in most cup holders, coolers, fridge doors, and more. The small volume is easy to carry around and transport.
A 12-ounce serving is a nice amount for one beer. The pull-tab lid makes opening simple and quick. And the cans are easy to crush or stack after use.
Aluminum cans resist damage far better than glass bottles. They can be dropped, tossed, stacked with no risk of breakage. This makes them ideal for events and outdoor activities.
Cylindrical cans optimize packing space compared to other shapes. More cans can fit into fridges, coolers, shipping boxes and pallets. This makes storage and transportation very efficient.
Unlike clear glass, aluminum cans block all light from reaching the beer. This prevents skunking and provides maximum protection for the beer’s flavor.
The thin aluminum cools down rapidly compared to glass. This allows beer cans to get cold faster in the cooler or fridge.
Aluminum has high recyclability compared to glass and plastic. Most beer cans today also use recycled aluminum.
Disadvantages of 12-Ounce Beer Cans
Of course, beer cans also come with a few disadvantages:
- Less suitable for long term storage and cellaring compared to bottles.
- Can’t see the beer color and carbonation through opaque metal.
- Potential for a metallic taste if not properly coated and washed.
- Not resealable like a bottle with a cap.
- More expensive to produce than glass bottles.
However, modern improvements in can lining technology and high production volumes make cans very cost effective today. The pros generally outweigh the cons for most beer types and drinking scenarios.
How Many Servings in Different Can Sizes?
Based on typical beer serving sizes, here is an estimate of how many servings come in different can sizes:
|Tallboy||16 oz||1 – 1.3|
|Imperial Pint||24 oz||2|
|Crowler||32 oz||2 – 3|
This gives you a sense of how many typical 12-ounce beer servings are provided in the larger can sizes. Of course, for higher alcohol beers you may get fewer servings from one can. But for standard 4-6% ABV beer styles, these serving estimates apply.
Ounces of Beer by Country and Region
While 12 ounces is standard in the US, other countries may have different common can sizes for beer:
- 341 mL = 11.5oz
- 330 mL = 11.2oz
- 500 mL = 16.9oz
- 440 mL = 14.8oz
- 500 mL = 16.9oz
- 375 mL = 12.7oz
So you’ll see variation across the globe based on regional preferences and customs. But the 12-ounce can is still considered the de facto standard. Some breweries may adjust can sizes for export into different markets. But most major beer brands stick to 12 ounces worldwide.
How Much Beer Fits in Different Containers?
Beyond just cans, here’s an overview of how many ounces fit into some other common beer vessels:
- 64 oz / Half Gallon
- 128 oz / Gallon
- Quarter Keg – 82 oz (5.1 gallons)
- Half Keg – 165 oz (10.2 gallons)
- Full Keg – 331 oz (20.4 gallons)
- 12 oz
- 22 oz Bomber
- 750 mL – 25.4 oz
- Pin = 20.2 oz
- Firkin = 82 oz
- Kilderkin = 164 oz
As you can see, there are many beer vessel sizes beyond just cans. Kegs and casks hold the most beer, meeting the needs of bars, restaurants, and large events. Growlers and bottles are ideal for home enjoyment. But the 12 oz can remains the convenient single-serving gold standard.
Fun Facts About Beer Cans
Here are some interesting fun facts about beer cans that are worth highlighting:
- Cans represent over 60% of beer volume sold today in America.
- Over 100 billion aluminum cans are produced in the US annually.
- Recycling a single aluminum can saves enough energy to power a TV for 3 hours.
- Thinner cans with less metal use 13% less aluminum than a decade ago.
- Cans are the most recycled drink package in the world.
- Some breweries have started adding textures and grip patterns to cans.
- Printed beer cans first appeared in 1935.
- The pull-tab was invented in 1962 by Alcoa and Iron City brewery.
- Some craft breweries use custom can designs for each beer type.
Cans have clearly come a long way since their invention almost 100 years ago. They will likely continue dominating beer packaging thanks to their advantages in convenience, efficiency, sustainability, and more. The 12-ounce size has stood the test of time as the perfect single-serving for beer.
So in summary, the standard beer can today holds 12 ounces of beer, which provides one serving for most beer styles and ABVs. While sizes have varied over the history of beer cans, 12 ounces have been the norm since the 1950s due to the ideal single-serving volume. Major beer brands and craft breweries alike typically use this size.
Larger cans like 16, 24, and even 32 ounces exist, but are not as common. They allow for higher volume beers and multi-serving containers. Other beer vessels like growlers, kegs, bottles, and casks hold different amounts, but 12-ounce cans remain the gold standard.
Their advantages in portability, convenience, cooling, and sustainability have secured the dominance of 12-ounce cans for generations. And their proportions, construction, and design continue to improve. So the next time you crack open a cold one straight from the fridge in its 12-ounce can, you can appreciate the engineering and universality of this perfect beer package.