Brew dating on beer bottles
Beer and ale - and the related stout, porter, and weiss - are the yeast fermented products of various grains, most commonly malted barley and/or wheat.(Note: All four of these very similar products are lumped together and referred to simply as "beer" in this section.) Beer brewing began in the U. during early colonial days when beer was consumed in large quantities on all sorts of occasions and during almost all meals.However, using bottles to contain beer was uncommon during that time as beer was dispensed from kegs in taverns and inns and bottles were relatively rare and expensive.The types of bottles used for bottling beer in the earliest days would have been the common heavy glass black glass utilitarian bottles of the era which were used for various liquid products.The two-tone stoneware bottle pictured to the far left was made in Great Britain during the 1870s or 1880s. This bottle also had a fragmental label noting that it contained either ale or stout (i.e., "Ale/Stout"). (Photo from e Bay.) Stoneware or ceramic bottles for beer were generally discontinued in the U. As noted on the Spirits/Liquor bottle typing page, the growing strength of the Temperance movement and rising anti-alcohol fervor during the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to the passage of ever increasing restrictions on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages including beer.The medium brown stoneware bottle to the immediate left is almost certainly American made (incised with J. SCHRIBER on the shoulder) and is fairly typical of a U. The power of the Temperance movement culminated in the addition of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution on January 16th, 1919; the amendment written to take effect one year after ratification, i.e., January 17th, 1920.
Fortunately, there were stylistic differences between the typical containers for the two products that allows a person to reasonably differentiate which product a given bottle was used the of the time.
By the late 18th century, beer was being bottled in the northern Atlantic seaboard states in various black glass bottles in enough quantity that some was being exported (Munsey 1970; Mc Kearin & Wilson 1978).
By the second quarter of the 19th century, beer (and the related soda/mineral water) bottles began to evolve a style of their own though "strong, heavy, and black" bottles continued to be used for beer bottling up through at least the late 1870s and even until the early 20th century with imported bottles (Wilson & Wilson 1968; Mc Kearin & Wilson 1978).
Essentially all beer/ale bottles are round (cylindrical) in cross section; square, rectangular, or other body shapes are almost unknown.
Beer and ale, being carbonated (known as "pressure ware" in the bottle making industry), pretty much had to be contained in cylindrical heavy glass bottles since such a shape is inherently stronger than other shapes - all other things being equal, e.g., bottle size, glass thickness and quality (Tooley 1953; Glass Industry 1959).