Like aerated waters, successfully
bottling brewed ginger beer also had its challenges. Strength of bottle and
closure was probably the most important requirement when bottling a
traditionally brewed ginger beer along with restricting light exposure to the
bottled product. Nearly all earlier ginger beer bottles (ie prior 1920’s)
incorporated a simple cork closure which had to be well wired down similar to
wiring a corked beer bottle. With the rapidly increased use of the Crown Seal
throughout the world during the 1920’s, saw potteries and bottle manufacturers
begin producing bottles using a Crown Seal closure with great success.
With the use of the correct capping machinery, aerated water manufacturers were able to successfully bottle their ginger beers with Crown Seal closures which were much less labour intensive to cap than the traditional wiring of corks, which in most small factories had to be done by hand.
Glass Ginger Beer
By the 1930’s, due to their high cost of manufacture, many aerated water producers were opting to the new machine made glass ginger beer bottle. These were usually made in brown glass to restrict light to the product and all incorporated a Crown Seal closure, but they were much more uniform in size and manufacture and much better suited to the modern filling machinery that was beginning to be used. Brewers still used the Crown Seal stoneware ginger beers for a considerable time, some right through to the early 1950’s, but they were all old stock and weren’t ordering any new ones.
After WW2 the technology which enabled Heat Transfer Decal (HTD) to be applied to containers which are heated to 250 degrees, became available to bottle manufacturers. This type of transferring became very popular in the cool drink and dairy industries because complex artwork containing several colours could be applied, resulting in a durable label able to withstand washing and wear and tear throughout the working life of the bottle. This type of labelling is commonly known as “Pyro” or “Ceramic Labelling” today. (See photo below)
Ceramic Ginger Beers
Pre 1930, over 95% of all ginger beer brewers bottled their product in stoneware bottles. These stoneware bottles were not only very strong and robust, but also non transparent, keeping the sealed ginger beer in complete darkness until opening. Because a traditional ginger beer was brewed, it often continued to brew in the bottle, depending on the sugar added by the brewer and could build up a pressure within the bottle much higher than that of an aerated water, whos pressure came from the dissolved CO2 added at the point of bottling.
Like most of the glass aerated water bottles, most manufacturers wanted their bottles to be clearly marked with their name, trade mark and locality. Because most ceramic ginger beers were hand thrown at the pottery, they were much more expensive to manufacture than glass bottles and consequently had a very high return deposit placed on them, sometimes well more than their contents price. It is for this reason they were never usually thrown away in any numbers and are generally not common to find.