In Australia, the “tinny / tinnie” has gone down into legend in terms of it being a source of beer and the most familiar face of beer dispensing systems (we’re using the term loosely there)..
Across Oz, the word “tinny” wasn’t exclusively applied to canned beer. It was and still is used to describe almost anything made of tin or aluminium although receptacles for food and drink are perhaps the most common example of the use of the word.
The much-loved beer in a can has been around for some time. As always with these things, there are different claims in terms of the origin but most experts agree that the first tinny goes back to Virginia in 1935 and then very shortly after that, to Wales in the UK.
Originally there were some serious challenges in terms of trying to get the beer not to react with the metal inside. That was solved by a combination of plastic linings or related coatings. What became a real headache though was how to get the beer back out of the can.
If you’re much above about 45 years old, you can probably remember the days when you needed a special tool to open a can of beer. It latched onto the outside rim and you pierced a hole in the top of the can with it. You often had to do the same on the opposite side of the can in order to help air flow.
Then some smart guys in the 1950s and 1960s came up with the ring-pull concept.
The early ones were quite different to what we know today and resulted in the removal of a complete segment of tin or aluminium from the top of the can. That worked well but it also resulted in huge amounts of litter and parents, in particular, were unhappy at the swallowing or cutting dangers posed for their children by those little pieces of detached metal.
By the 1990s, today’s much more familiar piece-and-retain ring-pull was becoming commonplace and largely replaced all earlier versions.
So something as simple as that can of beer has taken a long time to develop into what we see today!