Maryland’s beer distributors said that tradition was launched in the 1950s, when Budweiser and other national brands were trying to compete against local beers such as Baltimore’s National Bohemian, American and Arrow.
The locals were cheaper, so the nationals reduced the container size to bring down their price, said Guy.
Officials with the Beer Institute, an industry trade group in Washington, confirm the account, but note that 10-ounce cans never really caught on.
They were sold in only about 20 states in their heyday, according to the book “A History of Packaged Beer and Its Market in the United States,” published in 1969.
“It’s never really been popular,” said Robert S. Weinberg, a beer-industry consultant in St. Louis.
A spokesman for Anheuser-Busch Inc., the leading producer of beer in smaller cans, said Maryland’s affection for 10-ounce brew has grown in recent years despite a slackening national thirst for the container.
The St. Louis company fills the smaller cans only at a Houston brewery because it’s nearest to Puerto Rico, where 75 percent of the 10-ounce cans are sold.
“Demand for it is pretty soft nationally,” said Michael J. Brooks, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president for sales. “When we try the 10-ounce cans in other markets, we haven’t met with success.”