Mike Farrell’s 32,000 cans

Hoosier Beer co-author, Derrick Morris invited IndianaBeer to spend Saturday at a “summit” of beer can collectors held at the home of Mike Farrell outside Shelbyville. Mike back yard rec room has evolved to a man-cave worthy of note as the pictures below will show.

About 20 folks were there from Michigan, Michiana, Indy and Cincinnati. Mike put on a spread and let everyone root through two pallet-sized bins of duplicates culled from a recent purchase.

There’s the Camaro with 17 miles. There’s a car lift being used as a sorting table There’s a full kitchen and a couple of beds. There’s a 8-foot pool table in the loft. Oh, and there’s the 32,000 cans. Cans on the walls, walls built just for cans. Cone tops, crowntainers, flat tops, pull-tabs, stay-tabs, cabottles. Cans with paper labels. 6 oz, 7 oz, 8 oz, 10 oz, 11 oz, 12 oz, 14 oz, 15 oz, 16 oz, 24 oz, 36 oz, 64 oz, 72 oz and gallon cans. Cans in the stairways. Uncategorized cans, commemorative cans, prototype cans, test cans, bank-top and other advertising cans. Cans with opening instructions. Mike’s ambition is to own one of everything – and that includes variants. Collecting coins and stamps is space economic in comparison so that’s why the annex. Unique cans and commons.

AP1050949For instance there are three known special Burger Beer cans from 1935 Cincinnati. One was a patent model (for the pump apparatus) and another sat in a New Jersey bar for 40 years. Mike has them both. Oh, did I mention they hold 1/16th bbl – 248 oz of beer. One more in weathered condition has recently turned up and sold on eBay for $11,000.

That’s just a start. Mike says his collection is probably the third largest behind the 56,000 of a Pennsylvania guy and a B&B that boasts 82,000.

How does he find the money? He owns a company that buys manufacturing plants being shut down and resells or recycles the machinery and control systems. How does he find the time? He has two full-time people cataloging the collection and doing the initial sorting of new collections he buys. Their work can be seen at www.TheBeerCanGuide.com where 20,000 are now posted.

Liz Oeffinger (right) is one of the curators and web folks.

Other reports: Greensburg Daily News

Mike (seated at left) drove the Camaro home, parked it forehead high, and turned the door into a wall.
Burger Beer cans mentioned above – conveniently displayed beside a modern Oberon can.
The sorting table with last Saturday’s intake.
Krueger cans
Pabst aluminum half gallon crowntainers


Sugar and Spice beer was certainly more attractive than the Olde Frothingslosh cans.
The Olde Frothingslosh model, Marsha Phillips died in 2000 but unlike an artist’s works the value of the cans hasn’t gone up.
Did you know there are seven Billy Beer variants?
AP1050999 AP1060010 AP1060024

This seems like an appropriate place to paste a panorama of Derrick’s basement – 9,000 Indiana artifacts. It’s in boxes right now, may it RIP before leaping back to glory. This picture biggifies.