Where are the longnecks?

Yesterday’s post about James Squire’s pint-sized bottles got me thinking, why do so few craft breweries put their beer into longnecks?

Aside from the granddad of the craft brewing biz in Australia – Coopers – and the Hunter Beer Company, I can’t think of any breweries who routinely put their stuff in longnecks (yeah, technically Hunter’s bottles are champagne-style, but they still hold 750ml).

Long necks are great, whether you're talking about giraffes or beer.

Long necks are great, whether you’re talking about giraffes or beer.

Sure, a number of craft breweries do also put some beers in champagne bottles, but they’re generally for special releases or limited editions. I’m talking about everyday beer.

In the craft beer world it seems that the 640ml bottle is the size of preference when one steps up from the 330ml. Which, like the pint, is a size I’m not sure really works for sharing like the longneck does. The longneck gives two people a decent drink, pretty much filling up two shaker glasses (as I can attest to, though in my case, I was drinking both glasses myself).

For mine, splitting a 640ml in half just doesn’t feel satisfying – that means I get less than I would if I were drinking a 330ml bottle.

Maybe it’s to create the illusion of sharing. Maybe the idea is that 640ml might still be enough to drink on your own, without feeling bad because you’ve knocked back two whole glasses (‘‘hey, the second glass was only half-full, so it doesn’t count’’). But you can buy the 640ml bottle, telling yourself ‘‘no, I won’t drink this all by myself’’.

Maybe it’s an issue of cost. Maybe craft beer brewers find the lesser amount of glass in a 640ml bottle works out to save a lot of money as compared to 750ml bottles, when extended over the entire bottling run.

Or maybe – and this is where I think the truth lies – maybe, it’s an image thing. Maybe the longneck is seen as a ‘‘mainstream beer’’ thing and the craft brewers have gravitated away from that image. Much like they gravitated away from using cans for ages. So the 640ml bottle came about as a point of difference.

Which is a bit of a shame if you ask me. I wouldn’t at all mind buying craft beer in a longneck.

Categories: economics

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10 replies »

  1. I’m not so sure that it’s the manufacturing so much as the excise. If you order a couple thousand bottles, the difference between a 640 & 750ml bottle is marginal. The other costs are similar however excise fluctuates around the abv and craft beers in big bottles tend to be 5%+ whereas Coopers keeps theirs around 5%. A 640ml bottle keeps them around the $10-15 (ie cheap wine) price point. Just my thoughts.

    • That’s a possibility too. I hadn’t thought about the implications of excise. To be honest, I don’t fully understand the excise rules – though I do know from speaking to small brewers that it’s a pain in the butt for them.

      • I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics either but it’s a function of the packaging and the ABV. I tried reading the info on the ATO website and went cross-eyed.

  2. On a related topic, James Squire’s *new* “friendship pint” feels like dodgy marketing brandwank. As an (ex)Pom, I’m quite comfortable with the concept of a pint, but not to share. Half a 568ml glass and you get a small-feeling 284ml; way less that the standard Australian 330ml, or the 320ml that is half of a craftbeer 640ml bottle.

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