Canadian beer bottles: Do you know your history?

Canadians fondly remember the stubby, but can you spot a growler or a bomber? Read on to learn your Canadian beer bottle history and impress your friends.

By Troy Burtch

Canadian beer bottles: Growlers, bombers, quarts and stubbies
Image courtesy stubby.ca
Canadian beer producers have always fought for supremacy, offering consumers different styles, different options and creative advertisements, which have in turn etched themselves into our psyche. The evolution of Canadian beer bottles has played a big role in the marketing strategies behind large Canadian breweries since being introduced to glass.

Canada's first beer bottle: The growler
Before Canada became an industrialized nation, beer could only be consumed in taverns, hotel drinking rooms, saloons and pubs. In those times it was not uncommon for saloon owners to brew their own beer, thus creating what we know today as the brewpub. These owners introduced the growler, a 1.89 litre bottle (also referred to as a jug) that holds about 5-3/4 beers (based on a standard 341ml bottle) and was/is best consumed immediately. Breweries today continue to take advantage of growlers, offering customers the opportunity to take home some of their freshest products.

Bombers and Quart bottles
Bombers (650ml) and Quart bottles (750ml) followed the growler once large breweries installed bottling lines to capture more sales through distribution. Beer could still be drank in pubs and saloons, or taken home in growlers, but the Canadian public gladly accepted these new bottles into their homes.

These bottles would eventually give way to a short, thick bottle that would go on to symbolize Canadian beer worldwide. Today, when you get hands on a bomber or quart bottle, chances are it came from a craft brewery or brewpub. These bottles offer up more than a standard 20 oz pint and are ideal for sharing with a group of friends.

The beloved Canadian stubby
The stubby bottle was introduced to the Canadian beer drinker in 1961 and became an instant hit. The stubby, which received its famous name due to its small and fat stature, was easier to ship, stack and store as the thickness of the bottle meant less breakage, making stubbies instantly popular with breweries. 

Stubbies were also popular with drinkers as its small shape helped the beer chill quickly. The stubby actually held 341ml, which is the standard for present mainstream long neck bottles. As popular as they were, stubbies did not survive the ever-changing market for a number of reasons.

One of those reasons at the time was to appease female drinkers (who for some reason where not happy holding the stubby), so big companies started incorporating American-style long neck bottles. Today there are a number of Ontario craft breweries offering their products in stubbies: Brick Brewery in Waterloo and Heritage Brewery in Carleton Place, to name a few.

Page 1 of 2 -- Learn more about craft brewers in Canada on page 2


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