A Timeline Of The Bold Innovations That Changed The Way We Drink Beer

Beer is one of the most ubiquitous, enduring, and — frankly — extraordinary beverages to ever have been produced by human beings. The first evidence of beer can be found in a nearly 4,000-year-old Sumerian poem, discovered in the ancient ruins of Mesopotamia, near modern-day Iraq. The poem is written in honor of Ninkasi — the patron goddess of brewing — and contains the oldest surviving recipe for beer: a process involving barley and bread and other questionable ingredients. Say what you will, but it probably wasn’t half-bad.

Over the last several millennia, humans have dedicated a tremendous amount of time to perfecting the production and consumption of beer. Clever advancements, ingenious inventions, and life-changing innovations have cut a path forward — helping create the nigh-perfect beverage that we know today.

1785 — The Beer Engine

Joseph Bramah patented the beer engine — the earliest version of a draft — in 1785. Before that, beer was served straight from the barrel, which meant bartenders either poured from a spigot or they simply dipped a mug straight into the top of an open barrel. As you can imagine, serving beer in this barbaric fashion resulted in flat, lukewarm pints. And god help you if your beer was served from the literal bottom of the barrel, because it was sure to be mostly swill and residue. So if you’ve ever enjoyed an ice-cold draft beer on a hot summer day, you can thank Joseph Bramah.

1833 — The Conical Beer Glass

If you’ve had a beer in the past 100 years then, chances are, it was served to you in the classic Conical Beer Glass or, as it’s better known, the Shaker Pint. It’s a simple, tapered container that was designed specifically to stack with the Boston Shaker (you know, the silver shaker that bartenders use to make cocktails). The conical glass promises a strong, durable design that is both practical and universal. No matter what beer you’re drinking, it’s likely the most available and most practical option. It may seem commonplace now but, before the conical beer glass, who knows what we were drinking out of.

1913 — The Nonic Beer Glass

This famous glass was developed as an iteration on the conical design. The most notable difference is a bulge in the glass that curves just a few inches from the top. The bulge is meant to improve grip, but also to prevent the glasses from sticking together when stacked. The design was first introduced by Hugo Pick, who received two U.S. patents for the design. Interestingly enough, the Nonic is largely seen in the U.S. as a British style pint, sometimes called an “honest pint,” because it holds two more ounces than the Nonic. It’s also much more difficult to drop after you’ve had a few, which is a much appreciated attribute of beer drinkers across the globe.

1935 — The Beer Can

The introduction of canned beer is relatively new, especially when you consider how long beer has been around. Outside of pubs and bars, beer was sold in bottles and growlers and — for those so inclined — in barrels. It wasn’t until the 1930s that a partnership between the American Can Company and the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company resulted in the very first cans of beer.

1956 — Development of Cascade Hops


A Cascade hop is a variety of hop developed by an agricultural breeding program at Oregon State University by Jack Horner. The hop was first developed to resist mildew, but eventually grew to provide unique flavor properties. The Cascade Hop has become a hallmark flavor for American brewers, offering a spicy, citrus taste.

Do you love American craft beer? Well, then, you probably love the Cascade Hop, too.

1959 — Coors Introduces the 7-Ounce All-Aluminum Can


As crazy as it sounds, the original beer can wasn’t made with aluminum. It was made with a mixture of metals, many of which were completely reliant on non-renewable resources. It wasn’t until Coors pioneered the use of all-aluminum cans that take-home beer finally started to improve. The aluminum can is easily the most sustainable option, due in no small part to the fact that they are infinitely recyclable. Even better: They are perfect for beer because aluminum chills quickly, and provides a fantastic metal surface for label printing. Most importantly, of course, all-aluminum cans protect the flavor of beer longer than any other option.

1960s — The Modern Keg


The first kegs were made out of modified wooden barrels in the 1700s. They were large and bulky and considerably much heavier than the modern stainless steel kegs (though, arguably, providing a much more sturdy base for “ye olde keg stand”). It wasn’t until the 1960s that modern pressurized kegs were popularized in bars and restaurants. Thanks to the modern keg, we are now able to transport beers all over the world without losing flavor, carbonation, or general integrity.

1967 — Light Beer


Beer is an amazingly refreshing drink, but it is also high-caloric and carb heavy. It can be a problem, especially for those of us who love the ritual of drinking beer after beer on a hot summer day. That’s where light beer comes in, invented by the ingenious biochemist Joseph Owades. Whether or not you enjoy light beer, you’ve got to respect a man who worked hard to make the generous consumption of beer a (slightly) healthier option.

2015 — Craft Beer Glasses

The idea of pretentious beer glasses has been around for awhile. There are different beer glasses for different kinds of beer, each enhancing the flavor profile of specific beer types in unique and unmistakable ways. However, in recent years, we’ve seen glass blowers and artisans make hyper-specific glasses for specific beer types, complementing the idea that beer is now considered high art. If it seems crazy to you to drink an aromatic IPA out of a glass designed to increase the surface tension of that beer’s head, well, let us remind you that drinking beer out of aluminum cans seemed crazy way back in 1959.

See what we’re talking about right here…