2018′s First Fad
Bombers are terrible. Twenty-two ounce bottles were ubiquitous among craft brewers for years despite the facts: they’re ugly and they’re oddly sized (is it one serving or two?)
So why were so many beers sold in bombers?
For one thing, they were uniform. You can shelve twenty-twos anywhere – corner stores, supermarkets, liquor stores. Twenty-twos fit right in with the malt liquors.
Second, ten years ago, it was hard to sell a single twelve ounce bottle of beer. You could do it, but the mixed six-pack was still new. Bombers allowed prospective customers to gamble on a single bottle instead of a whole six-pack.
And lastly, was the price. The cost per ounce of a single bomber is often significantly higher than the same beer in a six-pack. A five dollar bomber is equivalent to a sixteen dollar six pack. Sixteen bucks for a sixer isn’t unheard of in 2018, but try getting someone to pick one up at the 7-11. It’s not happening.
So we had bombers and we had six-packs and a few uppity breweries putting out fancy wine bottles.
In about 2012 brewers finally embraced cans – which are easier to recycle, and lighter to ship. When sixteen ounce cans hit the scene, it was suddenly possible to buy a single pint of beer for a reasonable price. Sixteen ounces fits nicely in any glass without the need to refill. (Personally, I feel cheated by twelve ounce bottles.)
But switching from bottling to canning is expensive. So what were the older breweries to do? The people demand smaller, cheaper sizes.
Enter the five hundred milliliter bottle. Walking through the grocery store the other day there was a sudden gut of these perfectly pint sized bottles – just under seventeen ounces, svelte, and classy. Selling beer five ounces less at a time brings down the per bottle cost, making glass bottles competitive again.
I think we have to thank our friends in Hood River for the trend here in Oregon. Double Mountain started using reusable European bottles about four years ago, and across town, pFriem followed suit just a few years later. So far in 2018, I’ve seen Buoy, Laurelwood, Ex Novo, and Mazama using these new bottles. Gigantic and Fort George are using them for their more exclusive, barrel aged beers. Let’s hope the trend continues.
2018 is the year of smaller, better bottles.