Craft beer ‘becoming like wine’

5th March, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

Craft beer is becoming increasingly more like wine, with the traditional 12-ounce bottle being replaced with 75cl wine bottles and even three-litre Jeroboams.

75cl bottles of Dogfish Head Positive Contact

75cl bottles of Dogfish Head Positive Contact

According to The New York Times, a number of new high profile craft breweries are choosing to house their beer only in large-format bottles.

One of the best-known craft breweries in the US, Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewery, is to dedicate one of its two bottling lines to the 75cl format.

The trend for large bottles within the craft beer sphere is being dubbed “wine-ification”, with the beers boasting the high prices to match.

The NYT reports that the beers sell for as much as US$30 in shops and for considerably more on restaurant menus, much to the dismay of fans.

Craft beer drinkers have been complaining that the large format bottles are a challenge to finish in one sitting, and, unlike wine, are unable to be recorked.

Last year, about 3.5% of craft beer was sold in traditional 22-ounce bottles, but sales are booming, up 12% year-on-year, leading brewers to want to go large on their bottle sizes.

“We believe in the future of this format,” Sam Calagione, founder of Delaware craft brewer Dogfish Head told the NYT.

Prestige is driving the desire to use larger bottles, with the use of exotic ingredients like cacao nibs and honey along with ageing in whiskey barrels resulting in beers that beg to stand out from the crowd through their larger bottle size.

Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery

Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery

The larger bottles are also an attempt to move beer beyond its casual roots and elevate it to the same level as wine in a bid to attract a new audience.

“We want people to share our beer with a friend, pour it into a glass and actually experience the beer rather than just grab it and start drinking,” Ben Weiss, director of marketing for the Bruery in California, which uses only 75cl bottles, told the NYT.

The larger format bottles also allow brewers to sell their product for a higher price.

Though not everyone is happy with the move – traditionalists believe that big bottles send a signal that beer is trying to be something that it’s not, and that it needs to be more like wine or Scotch to win over high-end consumers.

“As soon as you say you want to be more like wine, the battle is lost. I don’t think beer needs to be more like wine. I think brewers need to keep being themselves,” Ben Granger, owner of Brooklyn craft beer shop Bierkraft, said.

2 Responses to “Craft beer ‘becoming like wine’”

  1. Here in Belgium we have several thousands of craft beers. A lot of them are available as 75cl bottles and this is the kind of bottle we share with friends. This is not considered as beer-snobism, this is the common way of enjoying beer together.

  2. Kurt Burris says:

    The logic of the 75 cl bottle is simple. It’s easier to bottle in to a bigger bottle. Half the cleaning, half the closures. And wine corks fit as well a crown caps. It may help the price point, but that wasn’t the original impetus.

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