BEER BOTTLES, CASES & KEGS
Beer bottles were used in Europe in the mid 1600s, primarily for export. Local consumption was typically from casks or kegs. Problems in using bottles for beer were that they were somewhat expensive to use, some customers did not like the taste from bottles and, most importantly, beer in bottles continued to ferment, often causing the cork tops to pop due to C02 build-up. Wire helped hold the cork in place and glass or ceramic tops were later used. Different versions of a wire bracket to secure a stopper were also developed. An example of a "Swinging Top" for a Bavarian bottle is shown in the side bar. Still, such brackets weren't always a reliable method to contain beer bottle tops. What made bottles more popular to use for beer was the introduction of pasteurization in the 1870s. This stabilized the beer preventing it from continued fermentation, which made the beer in bottles less explosive and eliminated the cloudiness that would otherwise occur. Then in the 1890s a revolutionary bottle top called a crown, and also know as the bottle cap, was developed, eliminating the need for wire brackets. (See Crowns.)
Bottles such as those below made before Prohibition were normally embossed with the name of the brewer, its city and state. This allowed the bottles to be returned to that brewer so they could be reused. It also didn't require the use of labels, which weren't more commonly used until the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Brown bottles were most often used because would keep out light and would help prevent any chemical changes in the beer that could cause what was known as "skunky" beer. Clear bottles were less frequently used for beer, but would allow better visibility of contents of the bottle and the rich color of the beer. From left to right is a quart bottle, a swing top pint and another pint. The bottle on the far right was may have been used for the Riedlin Select Beer. (Please see Labels.)
PRE-PROHIBITION BEER CRATES
The typical Pre-Pro beer crate, or case, was made of wood and contained 12 bottles. A crate containing full bottles wasn't something you could tuck under one arm while picking up other items at a store. Crates used for both Bavarian and Riedlin Select beer before Prohibition are shown below.
Besides the standard 6 x 2 crate for 12 bottles above, there was also a 4 x 3 bottle crates, as shown on the side bar.
Even though these cases were commonly used by all breweries before Prohibition, there were efforts to improve them. In 1917, patent 1,214,082 was given for a bottle shipping case shown on the right consisting of sheet metal on the sides and top along with a wood bottom and wood dividers. This hybrid design was invented by Lou Schott, who was a principal of the Cincinnati Galvanizing Co. along with his four brothers. This invention was obviously intended to be a product this galvanizing firm could make. It's unclear of these cases were ever made, but the onset of Prohibition reduced the need for such cases. After Prohibition, the development of lighter bottles and more rugged corrugated cardboard cases, made any wood or hybrid case obsolete. Of note, is that one of Lou Schott's brothers was Wm. C. Schott, who in 1914 became the son-in-law of Wm. Riedlin, the owner of Bavarian Brewing Co. And, nearly 30-years after this design, Lou Schott became the President of Bavarian Brewing Co., from 1945 until 1955.
BOTTLES AFTER PROHIBITION
Directly after WWII the bottles were lighter weight than previously. Instead of bottles that contained a pint (16 oz.) or 11.5 oz, the common size became 12 oz. and they were almost always brown. Bavarian's Master Brand bottles from a 1938 ad is shown on the side. When the main brand labels changed to become Bavarian's Old Style Beer in 1946 the quart and 12 oz. bottles had a shorter neck and the "Jug" bottles containing 1/2 and 1 gallon became clear with a loop on the top to carry the bottle. (See the side and below.)
In addition, other Bavarian brands that are believed to have used the same brown bottles were Cincinnati's Pride and Schott Ale. There may have been a clear bottle used after Prohibition for one of these more specialized brands, but that's uncertain. It's also likely that there were different cases for these other brands as well.
Please see Beer Labels for more information about the different brands and the changes in the labels over time.
BEER CASES AFTER PROHIBITION
After Prohibition, the development of lighter bottles and better packaging allowed beer cases to be made of cardboard. Examples of cases for Bavarian's Beer, starting around 1940 and then 1946, respectively, are on the first row. On the second row are examples from 1953-5 and the new design using red and yellow started in 1957. The slightly smaller case on the third row is from the early 1960s. Most cases were for 12oz. bottles, but "the Big Six" case was for quart bottles. There were also a few other cases used by Bavarian's, including those with its different brands, which have not yet been obtained. Please let us know if you have images or the actual crates to donate.
BOTTLES AFTER 1957
Bottles with the new Bavarian's Select label were basically the same as those before. However, within a few years, the disposal beer bottle was introduced.
Wood barrels were used after Prohibition in the 1930s and 1940s, as illustrated by the Student Prince wooden barrel from Heidelberg Brewery in Covington, KY, below left. Bavarian acquired this brewery in 1949 and used it as their Plant No. 2 until November, 1954. These wood keys were replaced by aluminum glass lined barrels after WWII, particularly in the early 1950s as shown in the other image below. A standard barrel contains 31 gallons. However, smaller '"pony" keys and other size keys were also made. Bavarian had a Wash House to clean and reuse the kegs and bottles.
To protect the connection on a metal keg with a tap, a keg cap was used. The Bavarian's Old Style cap in red on the right was used from around 1950 until 1957. The Bavarian's Select caps below were used from 1957 until 1966. The different color caps are believed to differentiate between the two different taxes (and alcohol content) for Ohio and a another tax (with with only one alcohol content) for Kentucky.