The earliest mention of a bottled beer comes from a story by Dr. Alexander Nowell, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1560-1602. He left a corked bottle of beer by the river during fishing, and when he returned to his favourite fishing place a dozen days later, according to his testimonial, this was no longer “a bottle, but a weapon, so loud was the sound”. This illustrates the key feature of bottled beer, appreciated to our days – the possibility of maintaining the satisfactory level of saturation with carbon dioxide.
The oldest Polish mention of bottling beer comes from Lubań in Lower Silesia in the 16th century, and the Tychy brewery – from 1824. No bottle remained that remembers this date, but it was probably a stoneware corked flask, of shape similar to bottles from late 19th century.
Glass bottles were to appear a little bit later. For a long time, the obstacles were high cost of manufacturing and poor technology, consisting in manual blowing of glass. It is only with the popularisation of cast bottles, which ensured reproducibility of the design and lower consumption of raw materials, made the use of glass much more popular. By the 19th century, bottling was an entertainment of rich British gentlemen, who used to buy barrelled beer and store it for their own use. It was also the domain of companies that manufactured beer for exports. British beers reigned here, as they were being sent to overseas colonies.
At the beginning, company marks on bottles were very modest, as they were impressed manually with seals. It is only in the late 19th century that decoration in the form of embossing was introduced. And though the oldest bottles from Tychy were plain, these functioning in early 20th century were decorated with beautiful reliefs with the name of the brewery owners and – later – with the princes’ crown. On the other hand, labelled plain bottles we know were introduced for the first time only in early 20th century.
By 1870s, when the decimal measure system became universal in Prussia, breweries were using one-quart bottles, i.e. 1.16 litre, and half-quart, containing 0.58 litre. Between 1890 and 1945 a dozen designs of bottles were used with capacity from 0.3 to 1 litre. Often, various types of bottles functioned simultaneously on the market (wholesalers and beer warehouses used to have their own designs), as the lack of automatic bottling lines did not require such standardisation. In the Tychy brewery, the diversity of designs was seen also after WWII, until 1960s, when the beer from Tychy was packaged in many various bottlers.
In 1965, the Tychy Brewery introduced 0.33-litre bottle, called “bubble”, which was used till 1993. Another innovation was fostered by the exports of the beer from Tychy to Hungary and Bulgaria in 1973, which marks the introduction of the 0.5-litre Euro bottle design. The bottle was universally used by 1999, when it was replaced by the current Gold type.
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