Valuable collection of beer cans, other items up for bid

Posted: 8:00 PM EDT Sep 20, 2012   Updated: 6:49 PM EDT Sep 21, 2012

We've heard of people paying $20 for a premium beer, but what about $20,000 for a beer can without any beer in it?

It's a chance to own a piece of a brewery, from light up signs, wall plaques, and beer cans.

"It's actually very rare to see an auction and collection of this size and value come out to the public," said Les Jones, breweriana expert for Morphy Auctions.

Some cans date back to the days of the prohibition.

While some buy a can because there is a certain Bond, others buy cans at the Morphy Auctions in Denver, Lancaster Co., like Einbock. It was part of a six pack that you could buy at one time for $1.09. It's now estimated to sell for $300.

"It's a really exceptional collection," said Mike Richards, from Robesonia, Berks Co.

The owner of the collection is Adolf Grenke from West Chicago. His sons started the collection, and Grenke wasn't even interested until one day he was driving in Texas.

"As we were going down the highway there was a golf course down to the right and my sons were yelling, 'Dad, there's beer cans down there,'" said Grenke.

There were even some old cans native to Pennsylvania. Some came from the Reading Brewery.

"We drove by the old Reading Brewery last night to see what was left," said collector Curt Boster. "Whenever we go to an auction or a show, we try to pick up a can from that city where we are."

There are more than 1,800 items in the auction, and many buying beer cans said the best cans are the ones that are unopened.

While many enjoy what's inside the can, some people consider themselves lucky when the can is empty.

"For us it's funny because neither one of us drinks beer," added Boster.

Most of the beer was drained from the bottom of the can.

Auctioneers said the collection should bring in more than $1 million over two days, and you don't even have to tip your bartender.