BEER BOTTLES, CASES, CARTONS
& BARRELS/KEGS
EARLY BOTTLES

​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" 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.

 

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 provided. Around the turn of the 20th Century, labels were added to bottles due to regulatory requirements. 

 

PRE-PROHIBTION 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 may have been used for the Riedlin Select Beer. (Please see Labels.)

Pre-Prohibition Embossed Bottles

PRE-PROHIBITION BEER CRATES

In order to distribute beer in bottles, wooden crates were used. Because of the weight from the wood and the beer, the crates usually contained no more than a dozen bottles.  Once a "crown" cap was developed in the late 1800s, as previously mentioned, the distribution of bottled beer in wood crates became more common. These crates normally contained 12 bottles with six bottles in two rows, or four bottles three rows, as shown by the accompanying photos below. Still, All beer crates before Prohibition were made of wood.  A beer crate 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.

The Bavarian Beer

3 x 4 Wood Crate 

Bavarian 3x4 wood case inside 1.jpg

The Bavarian & Riedlin

2 x6 Wood Beer Crates

Pre Pro Case Inside.jpg
Experimental Galvanized Metal Sided
Wood Framed  Cases

Even though wood cases were commonly used by all breweries before Prohibition, and by some shortly afterwards, there were efforts to improve beer cases. In 1917, in order to lighten the case, patent 1,214,082 was granted for a 12 bottle crate with galvanized sheet metal on the sides along with a bottom and dividers of wood. The design for this crate is shown on the right. This hybrid design was invented by Louis Schott while he was a principal of both the J.M. Schott & Sons Cooperage and the Cincinnati Galvanizing Co. This invention was obviously intended to be a product the firms with which he was associated could make. It's unclear of these cases were ever made, but the onset of Prohibition, just a couple years after this patent was granted, essentially eliminated the need for their principal use as beer crates. 

Note:  In 1914, three years before this patent was granted, the youngest brother of Lou Schott, Wm. C. Schott (Will), became the son-in-law of Wm. Riedlin, the owner of Bavarian Brewing Co. Whether this crate was ever made for Bavarian or other concerns is unknown. Incidentally, three decades after the patent was obtained, Lou Schott became an owner and officer of the Bavarian Brewing Co., along with Will and two of his other brothers.  Louis became President of Bavarian Brewing Co. in 1945 until mid-1955, when he became Chairman of the Board until 1959.

Cases After Prohibition

After Prohibition, bottle weight was somewhat less. It seems that wood crates were still used for a while after Prohibition as indicated by the Bavarian Beer case on the right.  The reason that this case is believed to be from the late 1930s is that the italic lettering for Bavarian was used in this same time period for their trucks, labels and coasters, and not before Prohibition. In addition, both the cardboard case below and the noted wood case had very similar lettering and design. This indicates that the wood case probably replaced by the cardboard case in the early 1940s.

Cardboard Beer Cases Replaced Wood Crates

Instead of wood crates containing 12 or even 24 bottles, it was possible to make beer cases out of cardboard that contained 24 bottles, which weighed much less than the wood cases and cost less to make. The size of these cases quickly became standardized in the 1940s. Examples of cases for Bavarian Beer and Bavarian's Old Style Beer, from left to right, are from c. early 1940s, then 1946 and then 1953. The brand name changed from Bavarian Beer to Bavarian's Old Style Beer from 1946 until 1957.

BOTTLES  AFTER PROHIBITION

After Prohibition, bottle weight was somewhat less. And, instead of bottles that contained a pint (16 oz.) or 11.5 oz, the common size became 12 oz. To avoid having the taste of the beer altered by light, they were almost always brown.  Bavarian's Master Brand Beer bottles from a 1938 ad is shown on the side.  A "Jug Beer," containing one-half to one gallon, was also popular and is shown in the noted ad.  Beside it is a jug made a few years later with a ring or handle making it easier to carry.


 Early 1940 Bottles 

1938-5-24 The_Cincinnati_Enquirer_Tue__B

1940s Jug Bottle

BOTTLES IN THE 1940s & Beyond

The  bottles used by Bavarian were believed to be the same for Bavarian Master Brand Beer as for Cincinnati's Pride Brand Beer and Schott Ale.  When the main brand labels changed after WWII to become Bavarian's Old Style Beer, if not a few years earlier, the quart and 12 oz. bottles had a slightly shorter.  (See the side and below.)  An example of the more traditional size "long neck" bottle beginning from the mid 1950s, but that began in the early or mid 1940s, is shown on the side. 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 cases with different lettering 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. 

CARTONS (Carriers)

The six-pack is one of the most common ways to purchase beer. The first six-pack invented was not for beer, but for bottles of soda by Coca-Cola in 1923, during the early years of Prohibition. However, the first six-pack of beer wasn't used until a few years after Prohibition, in 1938. For Bavarian's Old Style Beer, cartons from the late 1940s and before 1952 are shown below. The one on the left and center below is for bottles, but the handle part is folded into the carton. Besides cartons made for bottles, they were also made for cans. (See Cans - Cones & Flats.)

 

 

BEGINNING IN 1957

The bottles themselves did not change appreciably right away, but the labels were much different when Bavarian modified the name of their beer from Bavarian's Olds Style to Bavarian/s Select Beer in the spring of 1957.  Please see Bavarian's New Look for more information on the process that was used to change their design and image. However, what did begin to change within a few years was the "No Deposit, No Return" and "Short Neck" bottle, shown on the far right. This occurred as the metal involved in making cans became more expensive and it became more economical to distribute bottles in glass. These smaller bottles could also be bundled in "Eight Packs" as shown in some Ads: 1957-1965