Bottled beer has been in use since as early as the 16th century. Beer bottles come in various sizes, shapes and colors. Dark glass prevents light from spoiling the beer. However, lighter colored bottles are often used for marketing reasons.
The first nationwide standardized beer bottles were introduced in Sweden in 1886. The medium size, 330ml (11.6 imp fl oz; 11.2U.S. fl oz), is still in use today, but is being phased out.
Bottling lines are production lines that fill beer into bottles on a large scale.
This typically involves drawing beer from a holding tank and filling it into bottles in a filling machine (filler), which are then capped, labeled and packed into cases or cartons. Many smaller breweries send their bulk beer to large facilities for contract bottling - though some will bottle by hand.
The first step in bottling beer is depalletising, where the empty bottles are removed from the original pallet packaging delivered from the manufacturer, so that individual bottles may be handled. The bottles may then be rinsed with filtered water or air, and may have carbon dioxide injected into them in attempt to reduce the level of oxygen within the bottle. The bottle then enters a "filler" which fills the bottle with beer and may also inject a small amount of inert gas (CO2 or nitrogen) on top of the beer to disperse oxygen, as O2 can ruin the quality of the product by oxidation.
Next the bottle enters a labeling machine ("labeler") where a label is applied. The product is then packed into boxes and warehoused, ready for sale.
A short glass bottle used for beer is generally called a stubby. Shorter and flatter than longneck bottles, stubbies pack into a smaller space for transporting. The bottles are sometimes made with thick glass so that the bottle can be cleaned and reused before being recycled. The capacity of a stubby is generally somewhere between 330ml (11.6 imp fl oz; 11.2U.S. fl oz) and 375ml (13.2 imp fl oz; 12.7U.S. fl oz).
Some of the expected advantages of stubby bottles are:
- easier to handle;
- less breakage;
- lighter in weight;
- less storage space;
- lower center of gravity;
Stubbies are used extensively in Europe, and were used almost exclusively in Canada from 1962 to 1986 as part of a standardization effort intended to reduce breakage, and the cost of sorting bottles when they were returned by customers. Due to their nostalgic value, stubbies were reintroduced by a number of Canadian craft brewers in the early 2000s.
The Australian longneck is a bottle of 750ml (26.4 imp fl oz; 25.4U.S. fl oz) capacity. In Queensland a longneck is known as a tallie. In Western Australia a longneck is also known as "King brown".
North American longneck
A North American longneck is a type of beer bottle with a long neck. It is known as the standard longneck bottle or industry standard bottle (ISB). The ISB longnecks have a uniform capacity, height, weight and diameter and can be reused on average 16 times. The long neck offers a long cushion of air to absorb the pressure of carbonation to reduce the risk of exploding.
In Canada, in 1992, the large breweries agreed to all use a longneck bottle of standard size, thus replacing the traditional stubby bottle, since that time. The stubby bottle was traditionally 355ml (12.0U.S. fl oz; 12.5 imp fl oz) while the US longneck was 341ml (11.5U.S. fl oz; 12.0 imp fl oz). However the US has since replaced the 341 ml longneck with a 355 ml straight necked bottle making the traditional American longneck unique to Canada.
A bomber is a 22U.S.floz (650.6 ml; 22.9 imp fl oz) glass bottle that is commonly sold in American specialty markets and brewpubs. Bombers typically contain two to three servings of beer, which may be shared amongst friends. They are also a popular bottle type with home brewers.
South African Quart
In South Africa a 750-millilitre (25U.S. fl oz; 26 imp fl oz) bottle is referred to as a quart.
A forty is American slang for a 40-U.S.-fluid-ounce/1,182.9-millilitre; 41.6-imperial-fluid-ounce bottle commonly used for malt liquor. Forties are more than three times as large as the standard American 12-U.S.-fluid-ounce (355 ml; 12.5 imp fl oz) serving of beer.
A growler is a U.S. half gallon (1,890 ml/66.5 imp fl oz) glass jug used to transport draft beer in the United States. They are commonly sold at breweries and brewpubs as a means to sell take-out beer. Some breweries also offer a one-litre or one-quart version. Growlers are also used by home brewers as an alternative to kegs or smaller bottles for carbonating and storing their beer.
Growlers are generally made of glass and have either a screw-on cap or a hinged porcelain gasket cap which can provide freshness for a week or more. A properly sealed growler will hold carbonation indefinitely, but it is not an appropriate means of long term beer storage since it is not a sanitized form of packaging. The first brewery in the United States to use glass growlers was Otto Brothers Brewery now Grand Teton Brewing in Victor, ID, which is also home to Wildlife Brewing.
Growlers got their name from the sound that the CO2 made when it escaped from the lid as the beer sloshed around. It likely dates back to the late 19th century when fresh beer was carried from the local pub to one's home by means of a small-galvanized pail.
Darwin Stubby is a 2-litre (70.4 imp fl oz; 67.6U.S. fl oz) beer bottle. "Darwin Stubby" is available in Australia's Northern Territory. It is quite expensive and thus mostly a tourist gimmick. The Darwin Stubby was first introduced in April 1958 with an 80-imperial-fluid-ounce (2,270 ml; 76.9U.S. fl oz) capacity.
In Mexico, "caguama" is a popular name for a 940ml (33.1 imp fl oz; 31.8U.S. fl oz) beer bottle. The Mexican beer brands which are sold in these bottles include Tecate, Carta Blanca, Sol, Indio, Victoria, Corona Familiar and Pacífico. In some parts of northern Mexico, "caguamas" are "ballenas" meaning whale in Spanish.
In 2007, Cervecería Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma invented the caguamon, a 1.2L (42.2 imp fl oz; 40.6U.S. fl oz) beer bottle presentation for its Tecate and Carta Blanca lines.
De Nederlandse Bierfles
Most beer producers in the Netherlands sell their beers in a 300ml (10.6 imp fl oz; 10.1U.S. fl oz) bottle called "De Nederlandse Bierfles". De Nederlandse Bierfles is more commonly known as "pijpje" (little pipe). The "pijpje" was introduced in 1986.
Lightstruck, or skunked, beer has been exposed to ultraviolet and visible light. The light causes riboflavin to react with and breakdown isohumulones, a molecule that contributes to the bitterness of the beer and is derived from the hops. The resulting molecule, 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol, is very similar to a skunk's natural defenses.
In some cases, such as Miller High Life, a hop extract that does not have isohumulones is used to bitter the beer so it cannot be "lightstruck". Bottles with dark brown glass give some protection to the beer, but green and clear glass offer virtually no protection at all.
Bottle identifier bumps
The "bumps" are moulded in by the glass manufacturer and identify the mould that produced the bottle. They can be read electronically by the glass company in the case of a glass defect to allow for identification of the mould and containment of other bottles produced on the same mould.
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