4000 B.C.: Ancient Sumerian hieroglyphs give first indication of brewing; illustrations show first clay jugs with straws, which had to be taped closed while driving.
1700s: Glass bottles emerge. Wine, beer and spirits are all stored in similar bottles and capped with corks. Toward the end of the century, bottles take on a low-shouldered design known as a “porter.”
1870s: Responding to technological advances in the brewing process, Anheuser-Busch becomes the first U.S. brewer to begin pasteurizing its beer. This breakthrough procedure made it possible to ship beer over much greater distances by stabilizing fermentation, turn beer bottling into an industry,
1879: The invention of the screw top beer bottle makes individual resealing possible. Rednecks rejoice.
1884: Coors patents the first bottle-corking machine that seals bottles with a cork twisted in coiled wire, which, according to newspaper reports at the time, looked pretty fancy.
1892: The invention of the crown solves the problem of leakage.
1903: The invention of the Owen’s Automatic Bottle Machine reduces labor costs by more than 80 percent, revolutionizing glass bottling, triggering massive growth of the worldwide beer industry and ensuring out-of-work bottlers a steady supply of beer.
1935-1936: The first canned beers appear Richmond, Va., and Coors, Miller and other large breweries begin to produce their beers in cans in response to the cans’ immediate success.
1938: The first six-packs appear in stores after market research determines that any package containing more than six beers would just be too heavy for the average housewife.
1954: The tallboy is introduced: beer’s first 16-ounce flattop can.
1959: Coors introduces the first aluminum cans. The recyclable metal not only weighs significantly less but chills faster too.
1963: Pull-tab, aka pop-top, cans emerge and within a few years become the standard.
1968: Invention of automated can-body maker reduces production costs, thus lowering market price of cans and sending yet more beer-industry workers into the doldrums of day drinking.
1969: Canned beer outsells bottled beer for the first time.
1970s and 1980s: Malt liquor is packaged in 40 oz. bottles and marketed to black consumers as demographic research claims they prefer larger bottles. Billy Dee Williams begins a long career with Colt 45.
1990s: The 24-ounce super tallboy hits the market.
1991: Guinness invents a nitrogen ball that releases a small amount of pressurized beer in order to agitate the beer in releasing just enough carbon dioxide to replicate the frothy head that comes from “the perfect pour.” Their Dublin brewery places this device, known as the widget, in its cans to give home drinkers the same from-the-tap taste they’d find at pubs. Guinness wins first place for the Queen’s Award, with second place going to the Internet.
1996: Coors introduces the first wide-mouth can claiming that the 38-percent wider opening provides a smooth drinkability and refreshment akin to that of a glass of draft beer. The only observable improvement, however, is the speed with which it can be chugged—a sly appeal to the underage demographic.
1999: Coors launches a limited-edition 16-ounce keg-shaped can. Midgets rejoice.
2000: First aluminum bottles emerge in Japan. Basically a hybrid between can and bottle, the eco-friendly aluminum container prevents any light from getting to the beer, keeping it colder longer.
2002: Heineken copies Coors with its release of a thicker, more durable keg-shaped can in 12- and 24-ounce sizes. Its indestructibility and enhanced ability to keep cold makes it an instant success. Dutch midgets rejoice.
2004: Anheuser-Busch launches the first national brand packaged in an aluminum bottle.
2005: The success of aluminum bottling prompts Anheuser-Busch to double production to support Budweiser, Michelob and other worldwide brands. Coors announces the national availability of its sleek 8-ounce can, making Coors Light the first beer available in a puny serving. The smaller can cools down faster on ice and eliminates the problem of warm beer at the bottom of a larger can. The can also features a new wide-mouth opening that makes it easy to drink. A trend develops.
2006: Heineken stops production of its keg cans as consumers realize that buying standard aluminum cans ultimately means more beer for their money. Coors launches its revolutionary blue “frost brew” liner that purportedly keeps the beer “as cold as the Rockies.” Market studies determine only real difference is than can now says “frost brew liner” in all-capital letters at the top. Marketers rejoice.
2007: Coors launches their cold activated bottles use a thermochromatic (temperature-sensitive, color-changing) ink to transform the mountains image on its can from white to blue at 42 degrees. As the next best indicator of coldness after touch, the innovation is perfect for drinkers with no sensation in their extremities.
2008: With the expansion of their “Cold Activated” technology to 24-ounce cans, Coors launches the industry’s first vented wide-mouth can claiming the vent promotes a smoother pour by eliminating the vacuum and reducing the “glugging” effect—essentially targeting the youth demographic yet again by reducing the total length of time it takes one to chug a beer. A trend is verified.
2009: Miller introduces the Miller Lite Aluminum Pint, fully equipped with a wide mouth opening and resealable Taste Protector Cap that locks out air and locks in flavor. Coors further expands the “Cold Activated Can” to include all sizes.
2010: Miller launches the “Vortex Bottle,” basically a typical bottle with grooves etched into the bottleneck to create a vortex pour. This not only reduces your pour time by a few milliseconds but supposedly adds to the beer’s aroma and taste making it slightly less disgusting. MillerCoors, the recently formed beer behemoth, introduces the “Home Draft,” a 5.7-liter draft beer unit with a carbon dioxide regulation system that dispenses fresh beer for up to 30 days after its tapped. Billy Dee Williams gets a call.