Packaging trends come and go and it can be a mistake to follow the latest fad that maybe won’t stand the test of time. Today’s craft brewers are producing a rich and fantastic range of beers and ciders that demand the best presentation on the shelf. And what better than the glass bottle to offer this?
Glass bottles offer everything an artisan product deserves: striking looks, customizable designs, inbuilt heritage, technical excellence and a light footprint on the earth. Glass bottles also say ‘drink me’ more seductively than perhaps any other material can.
For these reasons, many craft brewers prefer glass bottles over any other packaging. Martin Barrell of Barrell and Sellers is one such brewer. He believes using a glass imperial pint sized bottle celebrates the British origin of his beers and suits the needs of his brand.
“We wanted a bottle that stands out on the shelf and one that would work on a practical level too. It’s an imperial pint size, which we felt was important as it’s distinctive as well as ideal when it comes to filling up a pint glass in a pub. We also wanted to create a traditional look that’s a bit retro and which appeals to all, and the conical imperial pint bottle does just that,” he said.
With today’s technologies, a glass beer bottle can be molded and designed to a range of brewer’s specifications. With glass bottles, it’s not just about a few fancy graphics. Take BrewDog’s Abstrakt range for example. Here is a brand that has worked with glass manufacturer, Beatson Clark to come up with a combination of design elements to convey a cutting-edge contemporary and premium image.
Charlotte Taylor, marketing manager at Beatson Clark says: “We combined the eye-catching electric blue labelling with a distinctive wax seal and an embossed Champagne-style amber beer bottle to create something unique in craft brewing. It’s the sort of thing you usually see used on luxury wine and spirits - and would have been impossible to achieve with any other packaging material than a glass bottle.”
A recent survey by Mintel found nearly half (47%) of craft beer consumers believe glass beer bottles best tell the story of the brand (as opposed to only 19% for cans). What’s more, a further 59% said glass beer bottles had the coolest art and looks (Mintel Consulting March 2016 ‘Choose Glass’).
But it's not just the aesthetic nature and design possibilities of a glass beer bottle that makes the astute craft brewer favor it. Technically, a beer bottle offers the perfect environment for beer - an air tight seal and colored or black glass to filter out UV light. For Rob Lovatt, head brewer at Thornbridge, there is nothing that can beat a glass bottle. He says: “We simply wouldn’t consider cans over glass bottles as the higher dissolved oxygen in a can would cause the beer to deteriorate more quickly.”
Many brewers also bottle-condition their beers to achieve a superior flavor and distinctive style of beer, and this can only be done in a bottle. What’s more, unlike other packaging materials, glass does not require a chemical layer, ensuring perfect taste preservation and avoiding all risk of chemical migration.
Finally, glass is a perfect choice for today’s environmentalists, a circular economy and every business seeking to leave a low carbon footprint on the planet.
Glass bottles come from a natural source, are 100% and endlessly recyclable, and the latest technologies mean they are lighter and easier to transport than ever before.
Light-weighting technology has cut the weight of an average 330ml beer bottle in half compared to 20 years ago. As a result, less raw material and energy is used to produce such a bottle and when it comes to transportation, more bottles can fit onto a single lorry. This translates into less emissions in the environment.
With all of these benefits and more, and as the UK’s craft brewing industry continues to reach for new heights, today’s beer bottle designs are evolving all of the time to offer both cutting edge style and substance.
These are exciting times for craft brewers and exciting times for glass bottle design too. With the latest technologies, glass beer bottles are well places to serve the needs of the artisan brewers that are changing the landscape of beer drinking in Britain today. As lightweight, sustainable, customizable and taste preserving packaging, a glass bottle gives today’s artisan brewers a presence on the shelf to be proud of.’
Rebecca Cocking is a member of Friends of Glass and head of container affairs at the British Glass Manufacturers Confederation.