Michigan's Toughest Tabs : Part I
by Chris Taylor (May, 1997)

     Many notoriously common cans have been produced in our fine state over the years. Take for example the ever present yellow Johnny Pfeiffer cans. They are truly the flattop's equivalent of Billy Beer cans (matching each other in abundance as well as in poor flavor). Along with such staples as STROH'S and GOEBELs, most collectors would agree that the common brands of Michigan are easy to come by; flooding many a bargain bin and "5 for $1.00" totes at trade shows. With as many different cheap beers canned here over the years, it's hard to believe that even more common brands were "imported" to Detroit from Indiana. Two of the most common Indiana brands that were produced in Michigan in the mid 1960's are DREWRYS (BCU 62-09) and the OLD DUTCH (BCU 99-40) .

     First of all the DREWRYS (BCU 62-09) is identical to the can pictured in the book, except for the brewing company on the side panel. The top is an early pull style with the small ring and a triangle shaped tab. A minature circled Keglined logo is located near the bottom of the left seam. With the overabundance of South Bend in circulation, the Detroit version tends to be over-looked. In my several decades of dumping and attending trade shows, the only person I know who has found them in the wild is John McGuire of Michigan. Except for a find of several of the tabs by John several years back, I don't know of any others available or found since. I can't help but wonder if any of the many DREWRYS cans I found in my teens were actually Detroit variations.

     The second can is OLD DUTCH (BCU 99-40). The major difference between this version and all other variations of these white tab tops is the brewery listing on the bottom red band of the face. This can also has the "ring top" opener with the triangular tab and a small circled Keglined along the left seam, placing its production in the same time period as the DREWRYS. This can is almost as elusive a can as any brand produced in Michigan. I have never seen this can available anywhere, dumper or otherwise, leading me to believe it is a rare, highly underrated can. Time and again, I have found its Evansville counterpart in Michigan, but never the Detroit gem. Interestingly enough, I recently picked up an OLD DUTCH from South Bend, which shares the same design as the Bible version except for the brewery listing on the front.

BCU 62-09 BCU 99-40 BCU 116-31

     The third member of this Michigan Tab Top Trinity is the elusive SCHMIDT'S zip top (BCU 116-31). This E & B Brewing Co. entry is so odd; never being filled in flat. I can't think of a zip top that's more difficult to come by. I have only found 2 of these on dumping excursions over the years. Its unique split-label design, in striking gold, red and black, makes it stand out in any collection. Interestingly enough, this can also comes in an even rarer triangle tab as well.

     The tie between the Indiana breweries and Detroit seems to have been close, as is evident in the DREWRYS, OLD DUTCH, and woodgrain PFEIFFER'S pull tops they jointly produced in the '60's. Another interesting fact of an E & B BREWING CO. tie to Indiana lies in a group of 1960's, 16oz. E & B bottles we acquired that were filled in South Bend. I had not seen an E & B label from Indiana prior to our discovery of these bottles. Since that time, identical E & B labels filled by Jos. S. Pickett & Sons of Dubuque, Iowa have surfaced. Historically, as sales at the Detroit's Pfeiffer Brewing Company declined, Associated Brewing took over the company and produced a few of its brands in Detroit to help keep up with demand. But operating costs made the venture unprofitable and the brewery closed in the mid 1960's. Thanks to Dave Launt for the information on the brewery.

     I hope to generate interest in cans produced in our state and will focus on the more curious Michigan variations in future issues of our newsletter. Until then...

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