Wednesday 18 December 2013

Big is beautiful

Not entirely surprisingly, my recent poll showed a decisive majority in favour of 500ml over 330ml bottles for normal-strength beers. Surely the point about bottle sizes is that you want a bottle that equates to what you would normally regard as “one drink” which, if you look at what people prefer in the pub, is overwhelmingly pints or something like a pint. You have to wonder whether some brewers are actually losing out on sales by having their beer sold in fun-size bottles in the craft ghetto rather than alongside the 500ml big hitters in the PBA section.

If anything, the argument in favour of smaller bottles in terms of maximising variety within a given intake actually has more validity in the pub, where you might encounter a range of unfamiliar beers, than in the home setting.


  1. I tend to agree, but you are fighting against the capitalist ethic here: the term 'craft' commands a higher price, while you're getting only 66% of a normal 500ml bottle, usually at the same price. Double kerching!

  2. Hmm - the poll asked about beers around 5% which I don't think is quite the same thing as normal strength. I must say I voted for 330ml because most of the bottled beer I buy is Dutch or Belgian and there it's usually a choice of 330ml or 750ml. Personally I think the 375ml favoured by many of the lambic makers is an excellent size for any beer - not too little, and not too much.

    What was the traditional size for British bottles by the way? They used to be nips (for the likes of Old Tom ) and err - I'm not certain but I'm pretty sure those bottles of brown ale etc you can still see behind pub bars are less than 50cl.

  3. The poll did state "for beers of around 5%" which I would say is pretty normal for bottled beers if not for draught.

    The specific context was "craft" 330ml bottles on sale in supermarkets a few shelves down from PBAs of 500ml, at a similar strength and price.

    The traditional 275ml (=half pint) bottles of brown and light ale once seen in pubs have virtually disappeared now and in any case were generally used to make up splits rather than being drunk on their own.

  4. I'm reading the blog via an RSS feed on a mobile so I don't see these polls pop up until you announce the results. I'd have struggled to answer the question at all though; my preference for 330ml comes from being wary of excessively hopped crafts and face suckingly sour geuzes rather than ABV.

    I'm also a self confessed tommy two slurps who finds a 500ml bottle becomes undrinkable by the time I near the bottom of it.

    I hope Mackies don't increase the can size, my dad would need a bucket to make a black and tan.

  5. Despite it being on average stronger than beer, I haven't seen any evidence of "craft ciders" appearing in 330ml bottles.

  6. I've never encountered a cider whose flavour required slow drinking.

  7. It annoys me intensely that Brakspear Triple is now only available in 33cl bottles. At 7.2% it's strong enough, but 50cl was just right if you only wanted one drink that evening.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. Unregistered comments will generally be rejected unless I recognise the author. If you want to comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.