From house party kegs to tallboys at summer braais, beer comes in different packages for different occasions – but not all packaging is created equal. Kegs can spoil in a matter of days, and cans tend to lend a metallic tinge to their contents. As such, there are only two options for an unadulterated tipple for the discerning drinker: a fresh draught from a reputable taphouse or, the much more convenient option, a good old-fashioned glass bottle.
The bottle hasn’t been a reliable choice, but it sure was a more portable option than wooden casks, which were the only way to store beer until the 16th century. Around that time, rich Europeans and Americans took to decanting their casks into handmade dark glass bottles – the darker the glass, the better it protects the beer from light spoilage. These bottles were fragile, however, and they soon found out that storing beer in this way makes it undergo a secondary process of fermentation, changing its flavour and carbonation.
Some got around the fragility problem by storing their beer in stone bottles, but these were cumbersome and didn’t stop beer from over-fermenting. Bottles therefore remained relatively rare until pasteurisation and industrialisation made bottled beer a more consistent (and less volatile) product in the late 19th century.
Inter-regional beer distribution became feasible for the first time, and breweries’ increasing filtering and chilling of their beers eventually created the commercial standard of a clear, unsedimented product that continues today in the world’s best-selling lagers. Some breweries still refuse to pasteurise or filter their beers though, creating more flavourful (but less consistent) bottled brews.
The rise of industrial brewing in the 20th century caused the proliferation of beer megabrands, like Budweiser and Carling, packaged in standardised long-neck bottles worldwide. But in light of the increasing use as beer bottles as weapons, some breweries are introducing short-necked bottles that are decidedly more difficult to smash over someone’s head.
The innovation hasn’t stopped there, however – not by a long shot. Last year, Scottish brewers Brewdog decided to package their End of History brew – both the most alcoholic (55% a.b.v.) and most expensive beer (R9 200 a bottle) ever made – in the glass-lined bodies of taxidermied squirrels. Now they’re looking at using deer as draught taps.
On second thought, perhaps innovation isn’t always a good thing.
This article was originally written for GQ.co.za (http://www.gq.co.za/entertainment/634816.html), hence my usual shift in tone and style.
So, some craft brewers in Wisconsin thought it would be a great idea to brew and market some beer with women drinkers in mind. Fretting over the nuances of potential low-calorie beer or fruit brews while pondering deeply the subtleties of female history and aesthetics, they came up with Chick.
We are proud to introduce Chick Beer, the only American beer created just for women.
Chick Beer is a craft-brewed light beer that doesn’t taste like a light beer. The flavor is soft, smooth and full-bodied. Yet Chick Beer magically has just 97 calories and 3.5 carbs.
For centuries, beer has been created, produced and marketed by and to men. At Chick, we think that it’s time for a new choice.
Chick Beer celebrates women: independent, smart, fun-loving and self-assured women who love life and embrace all of the possibilities that it has to offer.
Above all, we think that beer is supposed to be fun! So enjoy! Grab a cool Chick and Witness the Chickness!
Witness. the. Chickness?
To distil the pertinent points: Chick Beer has 97 calories per bottle while maintaining 4.2% a.b.v., and 5% of all profits from its sales will go to charities that empower women. These are pretty good things. The packaging is not a great thing. Cerise and black? Polka dots?! It’s awful. What exactly is the demo of women they’re going for?
The women who drink Chick Beer do not define themselves by any beer brand. The women who drink Chick Beer enjoy being women. They’re not trying to be one of the guys, and they aren’t afraid to wear pink, or a black dress. In short, they freaking rock.
I had no idea all my female friends who drink other, not-for-women beers secretly hate the fact that they are women. I really have never understood the sexualisation of drinks - that some drinks are inherently more manly or womanly than others. It’s such a strange thing, and it leads to such remarkable feats of condescension as this.
It’d be a wonderful universe we live in if Chick tasted amazing. I’m not going to put my money on it, even if it is craft-brewed by one of America’s oldest breweries. But, for what it’s worth, the chances are that they succeeded in getting the taste profile they wanted from the beer is pretty high. My gut feeling is that, should this venture fail and they are left with a decent light beer, they could probably remarket the beer as “a light beer that doesn’t taste like a light beer”. That’s really not a bad angle at all.
Seriously, who are we to tell you what you should drink – especially when there is already a community of snarky bloggers trying to do exactly that?
But oh well, what can you do? Good luck to them. Maybe Chick will really take off and become a bestseller.
I have a feeling that it won’t though.
Tell me if I’m wrong - maybe I’m just a cynic.