BEER BOTTLES, CASES & CARTONS
Glass bottles were made as early as about 4,000 years ago. However, molds for hand blown glass were not made until around 100 BC. Hand blown beer bottles from molds were more prevalent in Europe starting in the mid 1600s, primarily for export, but local consumption was typically from casks or kegs. Problems in using bottles for beer were that they were somewhat expensive to use, they could break, 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" bottle for Bavarian is shown above. 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.
Pre-Prohibition Bottles - Beginning in the 1890s
In 1892 a revolutionary bottle top called a crown, and also know as the bottle cap, was developed. It eliminated the need for wire brackets. (See Crowns) and the design at the top of the bottle was changed in order to accommodate the crown. This is one way to help ascertain the date of a bottle. Brown bottles were most often used because they would keep out light and would help prevent any chemical changes in the beer that could cause what was known as "skunky" tasting beer. Clear bottles were less frequently used for beer, but would allow rich color of the beer to be more visible. The clear bottle appears to have been used for the Riedlin Select Beer. (Please see Labels.)
Machine Made Bottles - Early 1900s.
Bottles were mostly hand blown from molds until Mike Owens developed a bottle making machine in 1903, and it took about another decade before this was more widely adopted. Nearly all beer bottles made before Prohibition were the property of a brewer and were embossed with the name of the brewery, its city and state. To encourage the bottle to be returned to the brewery to be reused, a modest bottle return fee was offered. In the late 19th Century, labels were added to bottles due to regulatory requirements.
Pre-Prohibition Embossed Bottles
Bottles After Prohibition
After Prohibition, improvements were made in making bottles so the weight was somewhat less. And, instead of bottles that stated not less than 11.5 oz. before Prohibition, the common size after Prohibition became 12 oz. To avoid having the taste of the beer altered by light, they were almost always brown. Bavarian Master Brand Beer bottles and a Bavarian Draft Beer bottle from a 1938 ad is shown. A colored photo of the larger 1938 half gallon Draft Beer bottle is shown next, and it is followed by another half gallon bottle with a taller and narrower shape. Note that instead of saying Bavarian "Type" that appears on the earlier bottles, the newer bottles omitted "Type." The final bottle shown for this period is a clear "Jug Beer" with a ring or handle making it easier to carry. This could also be called a Growler. This term possibly emanates from the sound when the cork is released from the vessel, which can make a growling like noise.