British ales were more problematic. Reacting with tin in a cold climate, the result was a metallic taste. It was not until the Felinfoel Brewery in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, came up with the idea of coating the inside of the cans with an inert wax that the taste challenge was met.
For the family who owned Felinfoel the benefit was two-fold: as well as being brewers, they were also Llanelli tinplate masters, an industry which had taken a battering during the Depression years.
With conical necks and pull-off caps, the first European half-pint beer cans from the 1930s bear little resemblance to the modern equivalent that would not emerge until the 1960s.
And, as demonstrated by a sale held by Peter Francis in Carmarthen on October 3, they are valuable collectors’ items. Included in this Antiques & Collectables auction was a lot featuring three early Felinfoel Brewery cans: two in a red, black and silver livery with a dragon logo and another for a pale ale with a yellow ground.
Despite the obvious condition issues, the three cans sold at £1300 (plus 24% buyer’s premium). The buyer was the Felinfoel Brewery itself, keen to add them to its museum.