Ah, sturdy and stout stubbies. Macro beer dribbling down your chin because of the bottle’s bad ergonomic design. I remember photos from the 1970s of my uncles with mo’s, long hairs, adidas shorts and Molson Canadian in stubby form. Cut to the 1980s where stubbies were essentially a third character in the Bob and Doug McKenzie SCTV skits — on one episode replacing the star on their redneck Christmas tree.
Stubbies wouldn’t readily tip over or break like today’s long necks. They also packed more efficiently into a smaller space. Their heyday was from 1961 up until the 1980s when Canadian regulations required standardized packaging for beer. After regulations relaxed, many brewers started coming out with their own beer-bottle style to distinguish their brands. This led to the proliferation of designs and colours for a few years until beer bottle regulation became an issue again. Finally, in 1992, the major breweries agreed to use a standard long neck bottle for their beers.
Wrapping a couple of fingers around a long neck is easier and it won’t warm the beer as quickly. Of course, stubbies have their advocates and with the surge in craftbrewing, companies are once again seeking bottle designs to distinguish their products.
Interestingly, many of these trends are throwbacks to the past: Glass-embossed bottles were around in the 19th century, likewise, swing tops. Grolsch lager from Holland has been bottled with swing top caps since 1897.
The 21st century version of the Grolsch swing top is a little slicker than the original. You can open now them without external devices — and with one hand. They are often sought out by homebrewers for bottling because they eliminate the need for bottle caps and if you overcarbonate your beer you can easily let off a bit of pressure. These bottles are also recappable. I have a 1.5 litre swing-top Grolsch bottle that replaces more than four regular receptacles when I am bottling beer. It sometimes gets recapped after opening.
The Unibroue Brewing Belgian-style beers are all corked with a wire contraption holding in the cork (cage and cork). It gives the beer a champagne-like mystique but is in keeping with a traditional packaging method for some Belgian beers, especially the lambics.
The lambics are traditional Belgian open-fermented beers that take advantage of all the ambient bacteria and wild yeast of the brewhouse. These beers, after being bottled in heavy glass, will continue to ferment and create carbonation and internal pressures similar to champagne.
In this case, the packaging demands respect. I mean, crack a regular cap off a beer a people yawn, but pop the cork off a 10 year old blended lambic (gueuze) and you could take an eye out.