After a long day at work, nothing beats cracking open a beer bottle. While you chug your beer, have you ever wondered why beer bottles are always green or green?
I know you didn’t spare a glance at the colors. Like who in seven heavens would care about the color, but here’s a little story about it.
There have been beers since before Noah’s Ark. Since the 16th century, and glass bottles have been used to produce beer. It wasn’t until the end of the 17th century that commercial bottling began, and many manufacturers ran into difficulties because glass beer bottles weren’t strong enough to withstand the CO2 pressure. It took nearly a century before beer producers realized long-neck bottles posed no problem.
Beer bottles with long necks still remain to this day the most popular style, but new innovations have emerged over the years, such as forty-ounce bottles referred to as “forties” and short pony bottles.
Currently, beer bottles are much stronger than in the past, so different shapes can be used safely and effectively. Despite having been brewed since the late 17th century, the demand for beers and beer bottles only began to boom after the First World War.
Now to answer your question as to why beer bottles are always green or brown in color, we need to understand a simple chronology. Let’s jump in
Undoubtedly, glass was the best material to hold beer as it kept the liquid fresher for longer periods of time. However, after some time, it was found out that transparent glass was a threat to beer production. Transparent bottles exposed to the sun soon turned sour, resulting in a permanent skunky smell.
Later, scientific research revealed that the ultra-violet rays from the sun were responsible for spoiling the hop acids. As a result, a chemical process took place that produced a chemical derivative similar to that produced by a skunk’s spray. As a result, the term ‘skunky beer’ meant bad beer in its most literal sense. In the brewing industry, worsening ale is referred to as ‘lightstruck.’ Skunking may occur with any beer that contains hops. Thankfully, new developments in the beer industry have led to the development of light-stable hops that prevent the chemical reaction caused by ultraviolet light.
Traditionally, manufacturers had to come up with a method to prevent UV rays from ruining beer batches before the modern beer-bottling industry was invented.
They found out that brown beer bottles would block out the UV rays, much like sunglasses protect our eyesight. This is why brown beer bottles are so prevalent today and are used by most of the top beer producers globally.
So, yes! Brown came up first. Now, let’s learn how green bottles came into the picture.
When storing beer, brown glass bottles are always the best option, provided the contents are not damaged by UV rays. However, around World War II, the availability of brown bottles drastically reduced, causing brewers to select a color that would help maintain quality and sales. Clear bottles failed to boost sales, so brewers switched and chose to make green bottles instead.
Brewers began to attribute higher quality beer to green glass. Consumers could identify higher-quality beers coming from European breweries by their green bottles, which became a status symbol. A few beer manufacturers, like Heineken, still use green glass in branding and marketing, even though many no longer use it.
As for transparent glass bottles, modern technology allows the clear glass to be coated with UV protection, so the beer stays fresh the same way it always has. However, clear glass bottles were too costly to drive mass sales, and green glass bottles had the ability to prolong the taste of beer than clear glass bottles, so people kept using green glass bottles. As a result, the tradition of green beer bottles still remains. The status symbol for the green color forced many brands to even add green pigments to the glass bottles for permanence.
People accidentally discovered in the 1930s that beer packaged in brown glass bottles didn’t change taste with age. That’s because brown glass bottles reduce light’s effect on beer. It has been shown that the alpha acids in beer react with riboflavin to form compounds under bright lighting conditions. The compound may smell unpleasant. This chemical reaction did not occur in brown or dark glass bottles being the good absorbers of light. And as a result, brown beer bottles went to become the most sought-after colors.
As the refrigeration quality improved, brewers became comfortable using both green and brown. And this is why most beer bottles are always green or brown in color.
This little story is golden, isn’t it? Especially for those who love to make their weekends beerful. Sleep on this blog and tell your friends and beer lovers about why beer bottles are always Green or Brown.
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