Monday, 7 February 2011

Bottled It!

What's your ideal size?
They come in a multitude of shapes, sizes & colours with different sizes suiting different abv's & different beers, but when it comes to setting your stall out to produce popular accessible beers which size suits best?

In the picture the bottles start at 750ml descending to 660ml, 500ml, 375ml, 355ml to finally 330ml, the beers were a varying array of style & abv's.

The 660ml & the 355ml are US stalwarts, more commonly known as 'Bombers' & '12oz' ers respectively, then we have the UK standards 500ml & 330ml & a couple of odd sizes in 375ml & 750ml (champagne sized bottle).

Recently in the UK smaller measures have been forced into the limelight, no better example is BrewDog's standard 330ml bottles for all the beers they produce apart from the Abstrakt range. We have Evin at The Kernel releasing his 6% plus beers also in 330ml format,  this size bottle is far from the norm in the UK, in the UK craft brewing scene the 500ml bottle still rules the roost. However, due to the huge popularity of BrewDog's 330ml revolution I believe we will shortly see more & more UK craft brewers adopt 330ml bottles to showcase their wares in. 

We ourselves plan to bottle our beers in 330's as we feel the size is best suited for the abv's of the products we plan to bottle, but that isn't to say we won't produce limited special edition beers in varying sized bottles, as it is sometimes nice to have a large 'sharing' bottle of something special.

I do think glassware in UK beer scene has had some effect on the adoption of smaller sized bottles, particularly stemmed glassware often around the 350ml size are perfect for serving a 330ml bottle of beer allowing for head space, I think 500ml bottles have remained popular due to the pint pot (568ml) as a perfect serving vessel also allowing for head space, maybe various glass sizes will mean a proliferation of varying bottle sizes in the UK, who knows?

But for now I think the 330ml format is in for serious growth in UK & choice can only be a good thing, right? Also with canned beers having now put a toe in the door in the craft brewing sector, what are your thoughts on your ideal serving size? Are you a sharer, a traditionalist or are you more comfortable with 330ml becoming more common?


MadAleMan said...

I definitely think variety is good; I'd generally prefer <6% (or thereabouts) beers in 500ml bottles, and stronger beers in smaller bottles. I do like bigger sharing bottles, though it's more of an occasional thing for me- if I'm sharing beers I'd be just as tempted to gather a few small bottles, for a bit of a tasting session

The Beer Nut said...

It depends on the beer and the price.

The brewer of one of my favourite local beers says that when you buy a bottled beer most of what you're paying for is the bottle and the label. If he were to package in 33cls he reckons the price would end up roughly the same as if it were in 50cls. He has decided it's not worth his while bottling his 4.4% ABV beer in 33s, which is unfortunately the only size his contract bottler will do.

Anonymous said...

It does depend a lot: if I'm paying considerably over average for an expensive beer I'd rather pay for a 750ml bottle or a bomber than a 330ml one. It just doesn't seem enough. For example, I'd balk at buying a Brewdog Abstrakt but have happily paid for one of the big Sierra Nevada Anniversary beers, a big Double Bastard or the recent Roosters ones.

However, at the same time, if I want to drink a strong beer on a weeknight it's good to be able to open just a small bottle of a strong hoppy IPA.

James, Brewer @ SWB said...

MadAleMan - What you say about stronger beers = smaller bottles seems to be the consensus, with a caveat that large bottles are still welcome on occasion.

The Beer Nut - your friend is spot on it is almost the same cost to bottle 500ml as 330ml. However, our lowest abv beer in a bottle will be 5.8% so I'm conscious of keeping the size down, better to be left wanting more rather than wishing you had less.

Nicki - Your absolutely right about it depending on a lot, but I think 330's for core & larger bottles for limited more expensive beers is the way to go.

Mark said...

Personally, I'd take almost all beers in 330ml bottles and if it's that good then I'll just open another straight after. Ultimately, if I'm drinking at home then I usually want to try a few different bottles and 330 is a better size for me.

However, I do like sharing bottles and if there's four or five of you then 330ml doesn't go far. 750s are good but they need to be shared or at least decanted (for bottle-conditioned beers).

I'm all for any size as long of bottle to be honest as long as it's been bottled well - there's nothing worse than opening a bottle and for it to be bad (although this sadness/annoyance probably increases as the size of the bottle increases)!