When developing that next recipe and sketching out that label, don’t forget the bottle’s role in shaping your beer’s identity.
Should this beer be known as a long-neck 12 ounce? A heritage shape? Maybe a bomber? We’ve noted the mini-craft can renaissance in the past year, and the design freedom a can’s surface allows, but there is little variation in the can’s shape. Glass packaging material creates that extra dimension for creativity and branding.
“If you go into a store and buy a Bordeaux wine, most likely that wine will be in a claret shape bottle. Same thing with a Riesling. Most of them are in a hock style shape bottles. It should be the same for beer,” said Pascal Thibault, development and sales, United Bottles & Packaging.
“Most beer bottles are made with a purpose, if you look at a Belgian-style bottle like Unibroue, for example, the bulging neck is actually made to keep the yeast in the bottle and not in the glass when pouring. The shape of a bottle can also help on the pressure conservation or to facilitate the bottling on a production line,” he continued.
Karla Kellogg, marketing manager—beer for Verallia, a global glass manufacturer, said the 12-ounce long-neck and heritage-style bottles are still the most popular overall but that there has been an uptick in the larger formats, including the 22-ounce bombers and 750ml champagne styles, mostly due to an increase in specialty offerings across the industry.
Thibault, however, predicts a shift to smaller bottles in 2014.
“We have manufactured two new bottles for that market, including a 16 ounce sparkling for sour beers and a very unique 12 ounce bottle with no neck,” he said. United Bottling also developed a bottle specifically for barley wines this year called the Chateau Bière.
To that end, Verallia, in addition to the standard sizes and shapes available on its craft beer bottle purchasing site BuyOurBottles.com, has developed Vision4Glass Design Services to help craft brewers design custom bottles for their brews. A great example is the recently announced Glass Packaging Institute’s Clear Choice President’s Award for Advancements in Sustainability winner, Green Flash Brewing, for its 12 ounce and 22 ounce bottles.
“Green Flash bottles present a distinguished shape that stands out among other beers on the shelf, and they have the Green Flash logo embossed above the shoulder to enhance brand identity,” Kellogg said. “When Green Flash’s current design was brought to Verallia for review, the product design team enhanced the bottles by taking 3 ounces and 5 ounces of glass weight out of the 12 ounce and 22 ounce bottles respectively.”
Although the bottles are now manufactured at a reduced weight, Kellogg said they maintain the strength and quality to withhold required volumes of carbonation and run efficiently on the filling lines.
Questions to consider
Questions to answer for selecting that bottle type, according to Thibault:
- What is the price point you are aiming for at retail? Can you do a beer at $5 per bottle? Or $12 per bottle? What is feasible in your market? The price of a bottle is usually determined by the weight, quality where it’s made and the size of the production run for this bottle.
- What type of equipment do I need for my bottle?
- What will be the pressure rating of your beer? This is important for determining the best weight bottle for your project.
And three more questions you should ask from your supplier:
- How are my bottles shipped?
- What is the maximum pressure tested on my bottles?
- What is the availability of my bottle in the long-term? Is my bottle manufactured once a year only?
Thibault recommends looking at your local market and at the broader scope of the industry for inspiration. You can identify what trends exist in your market and where you could perhaps standout or fit in.
“I have customers in the Midwest emulating some projects on the West Coast for example and having great success in their own market,” he said.