Why aren't all beer bottles screw-cap?
September 26, 2007 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Why aren't all beer bottles screw-cap?

I mean seriously?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I'm excluding corked or swing-cap bottles. But the regular non-twistable caps... why would they do this to me?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:27 PM on September 26, 2007

It's cheaper.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:31 PM on September 26, 2007

And the pry-off kind supposedly offer a better seal against oxygen.
posted by transient at 5:33 PM on September 26, 2007

Best answer: If you're trying to say you misplaced your beer bottle opener, here's a tutorial for making one out of a piece of paper.
posted by moonshine at 5:37 PM on September 26, 2007 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Pop top bottles are reuseable. They can be returned, washed, refilled and re-sold(though I don't know in which countries they actually are). Threads are too fragile to endure this repeated process.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:42 PM on September 26, 2007

^ Likewise, home brewers can use a basic tool to re-cap (non screw-top) bottles to use for their own brewings.
posted by churl at 6:24 PM on September 26, 2007

I've learned how to use any sharp edge as a bottle opener. Just place the edge of the bottle cap on it, and bang down with the heel of your hand.

Note: Doesn't work so hot with screw tops for the aforementioned breaking-threads reason. Sharp glass in the mouth/bottle interface = bad.
posted by SpecialK at 6:51 PM on September 26, 2007

I always thought it was how you tell the gender of the beer you're drinking. Twist offs are girl beers, pop tops are boy beers???
posted by wfrgms at 6:52 PM on September 26, 2007

I can confirm that many craft brewers are concerned with their image - twist-off generally means "mass produced," and snobby beer drinkers will treat them as such. I know people who stopped drinking Pete's Wicked when they went to twist-off! (Okay, okay, I was among those people. But I wasn't alone!)
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:33 PM on September 26, 2007

I don't think Ambrosia Voyeur is entirely right; I've never come across bottles of either variety that couldn't be returned and reused. (Canada here.) Maybe twist-off bottles are indeed less durable and need to be replaced more often, which big companies would be able to afford, but it could also be that screw tops are just better suited for mass production, and the machines that screw on the caps are prohibitively expensive for smaller breweries. Or maybe both, or neither.

(Beer gender, incidentally, is determined by bottle colour: green=G=girl / brown=B=boy, or by the appearance of the word "light." "Lite" beers are for girls who can't spell)
posted by Reggie Digest at 7:58 PM on September 26, 2007

For home- and small-batch brewers, it's not actually the snob-aspect. If you're capping the beer yourself, air is more likely to get into the screw-top bottles because of the form factor, and the beer can get skunky. Make that mistake a time or two, and you'll be sure to only save only your non-screwtops for bottling.
posted by jenh at 7:59 PM on September 26, 2007

If this pertains to the recent switch to pop-offs by Sierra Nevada, they actually went so far as to put out a press release about it.
posted by Big_B at 8:37 PM on September 26, 2007

I've never come across bottles of either variety that couldn't be returned and reused.

Not sure about that. Even if the design of the mouth enables reuse, the thickness of the glass is a factor, if you don't want your bottles exploding on you. Old-style poptop bottles (of longneck size - ie 750mL) are in great demand amongst home brewers down under, because when the breweries switched to screwtops, the glass of the bottles simultaneously became much thinner. Those bottles are specifically designed to be throwaway - single use only - and are of no use to anybody interested in rebottling.

In fact, unless you stumble upon some old bottles at a garage sale, you end up having to buy brand new manufactured empties from a home brew supplies store - that's how useless the screwtop bottles are.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:10 PM on September 26, 2007

My own beer snobbery aside, if I'm going to be drinking a beer straight out of the bottle I prefer the feeling of a pop-top bottle's lip against my own to that of a twist-off, which feels rough and cheap. That might be a factor in the continued popularity of pop-tops.

On the snobbery side, in Canada it's the imports that have pop-tops, and many of us beer snobs prefer mass-produced European beers to mass-produced North American ones. The division breaks down when it comes to local microbreweries, many of which produce fantastic beer but, in my experience, always use twist-offs. Still, pop-tops seem to suggest quality.
posted by good in a vacuum at 12:14 AM on September 27, 2007

Seconding UbuRoivas that twist top bottles cannot be refilled commercially (although I don't think any Aussie brewers do refills any more).
Home brewers can refill twist tops, but you do have a higher failure rate where it doesn't seal properly.
If you are after crown seal (bottle opener required) long neck bottles, my local bottle shop sells Coopers, Hahn and Matilda Bay (yummy pilsener) beers in these.
Admittedly, all these are premium priced drops, but the beer is nice and the bottles are then free.
My strategy was to buy one or two every Friday night for about a year.
posted by bystander at 2:30 AM on September 27, 2007

A lot of smaller breweries, particularly in the beginning of the craft beer era, bought used equipment. Those bottling lines were usually pop-tops, cast-offs from the migration to screw-tops.

Besides, it's fun telling kids about "church keys" and cans that you had to pierce on the top to get the contents out.
posted by tommasz at 6:04 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I guess we're getting off-topic here, but the best damned home-brew bottles I've ever found are those that originally held cheap-ass Piels. Thick, heavy glass, and the case is heavy waxed cardboard, almost like masonite. My theory is that the type of folks who drink Piels are the type who will return their bottles for deposit, and thus the company saves money in the long run by being able to reuse the bottles. I'm still using the two cases I bought 20 years ago (for $6 each--yes, $6 a case, including the beer!).
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:02 AM on September 27, 2007

In Australia, beer bottles come in all shapes and sizes. In Canada (where I do most of my drinking) they used to, but since the late eighties or thereabouts most all of them are the standard longneck. One would assume this standardization provides the ability for one brewery to reuse another's bottles, which would be helpful considering how a person's ability to sort his empties is inversely proportional to the number of empties he's got to sort on any given evening. They've obviously still got to be sorted somewhere down the line for colour and cap style, but that's someone else's job -- literally; they get paid and everything.

Anyway. To recap, so to speak. No conclusive answers, but our best inklings seem to be:
- Quality of the seal
- Reusability
- Snob factor
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:10 PM on September 27, 2007

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