Bottled beers were becoming increasingly popular and this popularity had inspired brewers to come up with new methods for producing them.
For some breweries, such as Whitbread, bottled beer was starting to be a hugely significant part of their sales. Between 1901 and 1904, bottled beer increased its proportion of their total sales from 25% to 50%.
|Whitbread Draught and Bottled sales 1901 – 1914|
|Whitbread Bottled Beer Sales ledger held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/16.|
Not all types of beer were bottled. Most notable of the excluded types was Mild Ale. Despite being the most popular style at the time, it was rarely bottled. The name Porter also rarely appeared on a label. Not because it wasn’t bottled, but because bottled forms were marketed under another name, such as Luncheon Stout or Cooper.
|Bottled beer types|
|Type||Min. OG||Max OG|
|Light Pale Ale||1041.7||1050.0|
|“A Treatise of Practical Brewing and Malting” by Frank Thatcher, 1907, page 477.|
"there is nothing to beat a corked bottle beer — provided the cork is steamed and washed in a revolving wire drum to remove all dust and to soften and sterilise it."
The most popular type was the internal screw stopper. They were usually made of very hard wood and fitted with a rubber washer. That such stoppers could be reused was a double-edged sword. As they used a standard thread, they would fit any brewer’s bottles. Unlike the bottles themselves, customers made little effort to return stoppers to the right brewery. Which meant that even if you bothered to buy good quality stoppers you would inevitably end up with inferior ones from your rivals. I can remember buying quart bottles with this type of closure in the late 1970s.
Flip-top stoppers – like those used by Grolsch – weren’t much used in the UK, despite their popularity in the USA and the rest of Europe. Its use was mostly limited to Lager and rarely used for British-style beers.
Various weird and wonderful single-use stoppers were in use, most of which didn’t hang around for long. One did, however, stand the test of time: the crown cork. In the run up to WW I this was becoming increasingly popular, especially for half pints.
"He [Mr. Robert D. Clarke] believed that the crown cork would prove to be the cork of the future. It imparted no taste, and being soaked in paraffin it was absolutely clean and satisfactory. He had practically scrapped the whole of his ordinary cork bottles, and was using nothing but crowns and porcelain stoppers."