It’s easy to overlook ergonomics when drinking a drink beer. The taste and aroma of IPA may be front and center, but the drinking bowl is essential to the experience. Is it a clean pint glass? Curly 16 ounce can? If luck shines, you will drink that beer from a short bottle. Stubbies, the classic squat brown bowl, is the perfect size for a palm—deceptively filling 12 ounces of regular ale (or sometimes, Spinal tap11).
But unlike the common long-necked bottle, the level-filled glass looks more substantial, a nod to a bygone era of thoughtful craftsmanship for beer bowls. Here begins a short story.
Breweries, which grew out of Prohibition in the 1930s, began experimenting with different packaging formats to deliver beer to thirsty drinkers. Sale of Gottfried Krueger Brewing of New Jersey America’s first canned beer to the public in 1935, ushering in our established era of canned foam.
Not to be outdone, the glass industry responded by rolling out sturdy, sturdy, box-shaped flasks that are easy to stack and ship. Milwaukee’s Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, makers slot beer, was a pioneer in this practice by introducing what is calledmy sixtyThe bottle, due to its resemblance to a beer drink. Bottles with a stiffer neck are marked as ‘short’.
The rise and fall and rise of idiots again
Low profile bottles prevailed until the 1950s, when bottle necks became longer, slimmer, and increasingly popular. When the long neck laden with beer entered his reign along with the cans, the strings abandoned store shelves—except (interestingly) in the beer-loving North. In Canada, stubborn bottles have stood for decades, and remain standard Until the early eighties, when a marketing-inspired shift to taller, slimmer “American” bottles led to at least one fruitless campaign fueled by the patriotic “Bring the Stubby.”
Fortunately, all the little things didn’t end up in the historic landfill. Today, breweries large and small alike embrace the bottle fueled by nostalgia—a point of packaging differentiation in a world filled with 16-ounce cans with exotic labels. Today’s Stubbies is filled with throwback swan, as well as modern IPAs stocked with the latest hops.
Here are five great glassworks to grab and drink.
1. Full Sail Brewing Company Premium Lager Session
The West Coast was once awash with short bottles of beer like Lucky’s in California and Rainier’s born in Seattle. The shape essentially became extinct until 2005 when the Hood River Company, based in Oregon, bottled full-flavored ales—the kind you might find in pre-Prohibition America—in short 11-ounce bottles. Session Premium has since launched a range of session beers sold at stubbies, including hefeweizen and misty IPA.
[$13, 12-pack; fullsailbrewing.com]
2. Red Ribbon Desnoes & Geddes
The classic Jamaican ale was first brewed in 1928, entered its iconic petite phase in 1965 and quickly became an established alcoholic beverage establishment in the Caribbean. To this day, the cool, catchy red stripe goes great with spicy chicken and good times. Bottled red ribbon is still brewed in Jamaica. Meanwhile, its canned and processed branches are now produced in the Netherlands.
[$8, 6-pack; redstripebeer.com]
3. Switchback Brewing Company Switchback Ale
Vermont is synonymous with fuzzy IPAs, but the best-selling beer in the state is the unfiltered Switchback Ale. Style-defying amber beer, rich in malt and fruity aroma thanks to the brewery’s dedicated yeast strain, is just right for the obese. The bottle’s natural conditioning (aka “referral”) creates a gentle fizz from the first sip to the next.
[$10, six-pack; switchbackvt.com]
4. Molson Course Beverage Company Banquet Course Beer
Coors emerged from Prohibition with a fuss idea: Why not put their famous beer, which Colorado miners call “banquet beer,” into short bottles? Colorado’s massive brewery first used stubbies in 1936, and the poster declaring the beer was “old to the chest”—a whimsically simplified spelling that never gets old. Or did you do that? Kors revived the Stubbies in 2013, resurrecting the “Short Age” label. commemorative packaging.
[$13, 12-pack; coors.com]
5. Veza Sur Brewing South Coast IPA
Latin American culture and culinary traditions inspire Miami’s Veza Sur beer, where horchata-inspired cream is brewed alongside sour guava and grapefruit-infused ToronjIPA. The brewery (owned by AB InBev) also bottles many of its beers as stapes, including the must-try Sunny South Coast IPA that citrus stars Amarillo and Citra Tropical Hops.
[$13, 6-pack; vezasur.com]
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