The big beer manufacturers (particularly MillerCoors) are always looking for new and exciting ways to attract new customers. One easy way to do that without fundamentally changing your product is to offer the same bland beer in “innovative” packaging. The following are what I consider the 10 best, ranked in order from shittiest to most effective.
10 – The Miller Lite Vortex Bottle
Oh man, was this thing ever a turd. I distinctly remember ordering one at a bar in Stamford, CT where I almost exclusively drank draught PBRs (they were cheap) because I wanted to see what it did. In a word: nothing. Not a damn thing. If you’re not familiar, it was an otherwise normal glass bottle with what looked like “rifling” inside the neck. And it was supposed to…. hell if I know. I guess maybe the beer was supposed to spin like a football as it came out, but no one bothered to think a) why anyone would want that, and b) the limits of fluid dynamics that make said action impossible. It didn’t cost any more than a regular bottle, but man what a bait and switch.
9 – The Coors Light Frost Brewed Liner
These were supposed to “lock in the refreshing frost brewed rocky mountain taste.” What they really did was turn the tab, inside, and top lip of the can blue. When I look into my beer can, there are several things I don’t want to see. Bugs and ashes are chief among them, but an eerie blue tint is up there. Hint – you don’t need a special liner to “lock in” the taste of prospector piss.
8 – Anheuser Busch Aluminum Bottles
I get the motivation behind these. Glass is not only expensive, but dangerous as well. It’s harder to dispose of. It’s translucence can “taint” the beer (which kind of tastes like taint anyway). The problem is that these combined the worst parts of a bottle and a can. Like bottles, they were difficult to open (I think most were pop tops), and they were a real motherfucker to crush when you wanted to trash them. Like a can, their aluminum construction meant they cooled down quicker, but their narrow mouth and 16 oz capacity meant they warmed up before you could finish them. Plus, they were really tall and skinny, so no normal coozy fit around them. If there’s any theme here, it’s to not fuck with the great American longneck.
7 – The Coors Vented Widemouth Can
Big points here for trying to address a real need and coming up with a solution that could theoretically work. Why yes, I would love to consume my cheap American lager in a faster and smoother fashion! Unfortunately, it’s a poorly executed idea. The wider mouth is fine, but everyone knows those vents are just a token. Look at the opening as close to eye level as possible, and you see that the vents aren’t really vents at all. Still, they get consideration for daring to cut a wider hole in the top of the can.
6 – The Coors Light Cooler Pack
This was back when Coors was trying to push their plastic bottles on us, which were an atrocity in their own right. Those fuckers were squishy and slippery. More interesting, though, was the way they packaged them. It was a normal beer box, but the inside was lined with a blue plastic bag so that you could ice them down right in the box. Again, a great concept. Why lug a cooler to the beach/tailgate/public hanging when you could just pick up a case of refreshing Frost Brewed Coors Light and a bag of ice? If you ever owned one of these, you know why they sucked. They leaked, almost immediately. Also, it’s a testament to the shittiness plastic bottles that they were forced to design a package that required extra input in order to keep them cool from the store to the destination.
5 – Current Generation Aluminum Bottles
I know MillerCoors is sold this way (particularly at sporting events), and I think Anheuser might have come around as well. Unlike the old Anheuser bottles, these offer 16 oz of refreshing hooch in a more reasonable package. The bottle is wide enough to fit in a coozy. The wider mouth means you can drink it before it gets too warm. The replaceable top is great for keeping out… I don’t know, bees or whatever. It’s no one’s first choice, but it’s still more convenient than walking around with, say, a pint of beer in a Solo cup.
4 – The Bud Light Write On Label
These were not only kind of fun, but hold the distinction of being a gimmick that didn’t even bother pretending that it somehow enhanced the beer or the drinking experience. They were useful, for example, for writing your name on your bottle if you were too much of a pussy to finish it before setting it down in a crowd. It was also really handy for making sure you were roofie-ing the right person (I kid, I kid). It was also fun at a bar to buy one, scratch something like “I wanna cover your tits in safflower oil,” send it to a girl, and then have the bartender claim your unsuspecting buddy was the one making the overture. Good times.
3 – The Coors Light “Cold Activated” Bottles and Cans
Coors has a knack for coming up with gimmicks that seem to come from a place of good intentions. I mean, why not a visual indicator of whether or not your beer is “cold as the rockies?” The problem is that the mountains are a good indicator of the temperature of the package, but not necessarily the beer within. Aluminum is a good conductor of heat, so if the mountains on a can indicate coldness, there’s a good chance the beer isn’t far behind. But bottles? Not so much. Glass is an insulator, so all the blue mountains mean is that the label is cold. Besides, if you’re too stupid to pick up a beer and determine if it’s adequately chilled, you don’t deserve one anyway. On top of that, now they have stripes for “cold” and “super cold.” That’s just insulting. Still, if it made it into a Little Big Town song, it has to count for something.
2 – The Heineken Textured Can
I just found out about these, and I like them. They’re simple. They don’t claim to fuss with the flavor of the beer, so it comes out tasting as skunky as you’d expect. It’s your basic can, only with some raised knurling around the outside. It’s definitely easier to hold on to, and I would assume acts as an extra temperature barrier between your skin and the can, however small. It’s one of those things you pick up and say “why isn’t everyone doing this?”
1 – The Miller Lite Punch Top Can
Finally, Milwaukee’s storied brewing company got one right, and boy did they ever. It’s a basic can with no bells or whistles, save for the tiny little notch on the top that beckons you to penetrate it with a key or something similar. The idea is to improve airflow into the can as beer is pouring out, and unlike the Coors vents, it works. You can absolutely destroy these things. That’s a good thing, because they’re found on the 16 and even 22 oz cans, where quick drinking is imperative. If you’re, say, pregaming a baseball game or some other event where bonging and shotgunning are “frowned upon,” these are the way to go. Even if you’re a dainty little girl (or in a place where conspicuous public drinking is prohibited), when poured into a cup the extra opening cuts down on foam big time.
I’m sure I missed some, so let me know. Others, like mini kegs, I intentionally left out. In the mean time, we’ll have to wait for the next gimmick to come along, or for the big boys to make beers that are slightly less shitty.