Like aerated water manufacturers, brewers had similar issues closing and capping their bottles, especially in Australia’s hot climate. The methods chosen were a lot less elaborate than that of the aerated water industry and were generally attained by a well wired down cork in a traditional “ring seal” or “cork top” closure until in the 1920’s when, like aerated waters, the Crown Seal started to dominate the market.
Generally speaking, prior to the 1890’s most Australian brewers bottled their beers and ales in plain green glass “ring seal beers” although there were some exceptions to this in the eastern states, where some breweries ordered their bottles in embossed glass and even impressed stoneware. These were definitely the exceptions however, and most brewers bottled in the common plain ring seal beer and attached their own paper labels. The plain ring seal beer was the “king brown” of the 19th and early 20th centuries used by almost everyone, everywhere. Calling them a beer however is not truly correct, as they were more of a utility bottle, having been found with labels on them from cordial to turpentine and phenyl. They are by far the most common of all bottles found in pre 1920’s tips and are the indicator of the age of any site….see photo gallery.
With the demand for cold beer in such a hot climate, literally hundreds of small breweries sprung up all over Australia to compete with what was up till then, all imported beers and dark ales from the UK and like aerated water makers, most towns also had their own brewery. Like the local beers, most of the imported products were also only bottled in plain bottles, plain ring seals and prior to this nearly always in plain black glass bottles. Generally it was not until around 1900 that some of the local larger breweries started to order their bottles embossed with their own name’s and trade mark’s on them.
Most brewers refrained from the expensive option of ordering their bottles embossed with their own name on them. What was a much more preferred option, especially to breweries in the big cities, was to hire their bottles from a bottle exchange who would look after the collection and washing of the returned empties. The demand for this was so great, that bottle exchanges sprang up in all the capital cities to provide for this growing market , Perth & Fremantle Bottle Exchange (P&F B.E.Co) here in Perth, “Pickaxe” in S.A.; “MBCV” in Victoria; “The N.S.W. Bottle Co.” in Sydney; “BEB” in Queensland and “Tasma” in Tasmania. Many of these bottles made throughout the 1920’s were very colourful. This is especially the case for many of the Perth & Fremantle Bottle Exchange bottles, many of which were made from recycled glass by the Perth Glass Works.