The beer offer is huge – as are the striking differences between beer bottles. Photo: Christin Hume, unsplash
Customised beer bottles
Packaging is often the very thing that brings products to life. Colours, lettering, images, materials, shapes – individual packaging allows trademark owners around the globe to create individual brand identities. There are numerous examples, with the Coca Cola bottle being the most prominent. Thanks to its unique shape, consumers can easily recognise it, even without its red label with white wordmark.
The embossed Krombacher bottle is offered to bars and clubs exclusively.
Large breweries are also using customised beer bottles to establish their brand identities. As one of the first suppliers on the German market, in as early as 2013 the Krombacher brewery produced a bottle with a wider bottleneck embossed with the year 1803 and the company crest. Offered exclusively in selected bars and clubs.
In October 2016, the brewery brought out a new 0.5 litre recyclable bottle - a top quality, modern and original Krombacher bottle to increase the brand’s attractiveness even more. In the world of retail, the 0.5 litre recyclable bottle is the best-selling form of packaging. Its unique shape and distinctive embossing on the bottle neck ensure that the brand has a strong aesthetic presence.
Krombacher initiated this change in order to remedy the failed attempt to issue a new pool of standard bottles together with other breweries in the Reusable Drink Bottles (Getränke-Mehrweg) initiative moderated by GS1 Germany. This is because, according to the breweries, the current recyclable bottle pool with the existing long-necked bottles had become aged due to the fact that no new glass had been fed in from the other market actors, which meant that the aesthetic deteriorated and glass damage occurred more and more often.
Consequently, the company felt that it was forced to develop its own recyclable individual bottle. Krombacher thus meets the customer’s desire to have “a real” Krombacher bottle and sets itself apart from its competition by virtue of its design, thus highlighting the premium quality of the brand.
In 2016 Krombacher developped its own recyclable individual bottle.
What types of bottles are available?
In Germany, the most common types of bottle include Vichy bottles, Euro bottles, longneck bottles, NRW bottles and steinie bottles. However, if we include other countries, the variety of shapes and sizes increases drastically. Besides 0.33 litre bottles, beer bottles are available in a range of sizes, from 0.25 to 2.5 litres. In the USA, the most common beer bottles are known as nip/pony/grenade, stubby/steinie, longneck, Belgian, British, bomber/large format, Caguama/Ballena, forty, howler, magnum and growler (see below).
The revamped classic Veltins Steinie bottle - it no longer has a label but instead has the eye-catching signature Veltins lettering from 2019 embossed on it.
Different sizes in beer bottles
0.66 litres, 0.75 litres
0.375 litres, 0.8 litre
0.5 litres, 0.6 litres, 1 litre
0.25 litres, 1 litre
0.42 litres, 0.5 litres, 0.568 litres
The most common beer bottles in the USA
Nip / Pony / Grenade
0.2 litres, 7 oz
Stubby / Steinie
0.35 litres, 12 oz
0.33 litres, 12 oz
0.38 litres, 12.7 oz
0.5 litres, 16.9 oz
Bomber / Large Format
0.65 litres, 22 oz / 0.75 litres, 25.4 oz
Caguama / Ballena
0.94 litres, 32 oz
0.95 litres, 32 oz
1.18 litres, 40 oz
1.5 litres, 50.7 oz
1.9 litres, 64 oz
Craft beer providers in particular choose striking bottle designs in product placement. Photo: Clinton Naik, unsplash
Criticism of the wide range of beer bottles
Whilst customised beer bottles offer trademark owners the perfect opportunity to support their brand identities with extraordinary bottle designs, others see a problem in the customisation of beer bottles. In Germany, for example, the Federal Association of German Beverage Wholesalers [Bundesverband des Deutschen Getränkefachgroßhandels] pointed out that the increasing customisation no longer corresponds to the original idea of recycling. In Germany, breweries are obliged to accept crates of reusable bottles returned by distributors. However, this often means accepting different types of bottles that may have to be sorted by specialist companies at a later stage and then returned to the respective and correct breweries; a logistic effort that has a negative impact on our wallets and our environment. The increasing customisation of beer bottles can furthermore lead to tourists exporting beer as a souvenir and then finding they cannot return the bottles to the recycling systems in their home countries.