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.

Canadian beer bottles: Long necks and today's craft brewers
Image courtesy
Stubby's skinny replacement: The long neck
Between 1982 and 1986, the large national breweries (having already creating partnerships with some U.S. breweries) introduced Canadians to the long neck bottle in different shapes and colours, with brown still being the standard colour. 

Green or clear bottles, which were typical colours when beer was first bottled, were being re-marketed as the new wave in beer. Carling O’Keefe (now under the Molson-Coors tree) started selling Miller in its clear long neck bottle and other breweries noticed the public’s response and they were soon following. 

It should also be noted that in Ontario, the Beer Store (owned by Labatt Breweries of Canada and Molson Breweries Ltd and later Sleeman) agreed to regulate the use of long necks, causing everyone in the industry to comply should they sell beer through the stores; thus cementing the fate of the stubby, bomber and quarts (though they were still popular in Quebec).

Canadian beer bottles today

Today the Canadian brewing industry is experimenting with bottles of all shapes, sizes and colours; essentially reverting back to the types used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The bomber, the growler, quarts and the stubby are making comebacks thanks in large part to Canada’s flourishing craft brewers.

Remember stubbies? Take a tour through our slideshow of Canada's stubby beers from the '70s and '80s

Beer is part of our national past time, sewn into the fabric of who we are as Canadians and where we’ve come from. Author/photographer Douglas Coupland even used a picture of a beer bottle for the cover of his Souvenir of Canada (2002, Douglas & McIntyre) book and Canadians coast to coast would have no problem identifying it as a stubby.  Beer has been by our side through the birth of a country, survived the tough times of prohibition and is currently witnessing a rebirth in the craft brewing renaissance.  Everything you need to know about the evolution of Canada can be obtained through a brief history lesson on the subject of beer.

Troy Burtch grew up in a small town and was an avid beer bottle collector during his youth.  He currently writes for TAPS: Canada’s Beer Magazine

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