Sam Wiley, a Brooklyn-based designer and advertising artist who’s done work for Anheuser-Busch, was asked to create packaging for a brand to be called “Mocking Bird Lager” and “Mockingbird Pilsner.” I don’t know if these were done for ABI – she doesn’t say — and as far as I know, no one has launched this line of beer, so it’s anybody’s guess, but it’s a great looking design. I don’t like clear glass because it’s not good for the beer, but from a purely design point-of-view she used the clear glass and the gold of the liquid to nice effect. I like that they don’t look like typical beer bottle designs and I think as the market gets more crowded, any brand’s ability to stand out on the shelf will become increasingly important.
Most of you already know I’m a freak for obscure words and language more generally, so I’ll always take a look at a list of curious words. One that I recently was looking over at Mental Floss included such gems as a dringle, which is “to waste time by being lazy,” perfectly describing what I was doing when I discovered that.
But the other word was agraffe, which they defined as being “the wire cage that keeps the cork in a bottle of champagne.” I’d heard the word muselet used before, usually in connection with champagne, but many brewers today also use them, though most people I know refer to them more simply as a “cage,” as in a “cage and cork,” or occasionally a “cage and crown.”
But agraffe is a new one on me. A quick search reveals that it’s more often used to refer to a part of a piano, “a guide at the tuning-pin end of the string, screwed into the plate, with holes through which the strings pass.” Most dictionaries I looked at didn’t mention the cage usage at all. Champagne.net does offer this definition.
Literally means “staple” (as in Swingline); in Champagne, this is a large metal clip used to secure the cork before capsules were invented, typically during the second fermentation and aging in bottle. A bottle secured with this clip is said to be agrafé.
Notice they also spell it with only one “f.” Wordnik, in their listing under Century Dictionary does list this usage, as the fifth definition. “n. An iron fastening used to hold in place the cork of a bottle containing champagne or other effervescing wine during the final fermentation.”
Muselet doesn’t show up in most standard dictionaries either, but it is defined, at least, by Wikipedia:
A muselet is a wire cage that fits over the cork of a bottle of champagne, sparkling wine or beer to prevent the cork from emerging under the pressure of the carbonated contents. It derives its name from the French museler, to muzzle. The muselet often has a metal cap incorporated in the design which may show the drink maker’s emblem. They are normally covered by a metal foil envelope. Muselets are also known as wirehoods or Champagne wires.
Neither word is included in the “Dictionary of Beer & Brewing” (2nd ed.), but then “cage” isn’t listed in it, either.
So does anybody know? Those of you in the wine world, is either term in common usage, and, if so, is one preferred over the other? Or are they generally only used in France, perhaps? It seems more likely that they were originally borrowed from the French into English, but have since fallen out of use, or perhaps their usage lingers only in the technical jargon of Champagne and sparking wine. Anyone, anyone? Bueller.
Tuesday’s ad is a generic beer ad, either by the industry or by a glass manufacturer and likely is from the transition period from returnables to throwaways. Throwaways were first introduced in the late 1930s, but didn’t become standard until at least the 1960s, so this ad may have been from sometime during that period, but it’s hard to tell with so little information in the ad. Doesn’t it look just a little bit like the Toronado’s logo?
Here’s an interesting little snapshot of the various containers beer comes in over the last thirty years from the Container Recycling Institute. In Container Types Used For Beer in the U.S., 1981-2010 , they detail how beer in bottles have increased steadily 15% over that time and now make up almost 40% of how beer is sold. At the same time, draft beer has receded. Cans are still on top, but dipped significantly beginning in the 1990s, but in recent years have started to rebound.
Wednesday’s ad is for Schlitz from 1912, and is touting brown bottles as the best package for beer. I don’t imagine UV light was as well understood a century ago, but Schlitz assures us that even then “chemists of this country as well have repeatedly warned against the possible dangers to purity following the use of light glass bottles.” And I love this gem. “Dark bottles only are used for beer in Germany and England.” Many? Undoubtedly. Most? Probably. Every brewery? Hmm, I’m sure someone can speak to the veracity of that claim, but I tend to think absolute claims are a bad idea. You can find an exception to almost anything. And I especially love their final words, urging people to choose Schlitz because they know best. “If you knew what we know about beer, you would say ‘Schlitz—Schlitz in Brown Bottles.'”
This isn’t exactly new, but it’s still pretty cool, despite using green bottles. They may not be great for keeping UV light out of the beer, but they do work great for building Christmas trees. Completed in 2006, 2000 Heineken bottles are controlled by animated lighting equipment built by the homeowner.
At least a dozen people have e-mailed me a link to this video, so I bow to the will of the people and share it with the remaining couple of people who may not yet have seen it. It’s a simple idea, using beer bottles (and some liquor bottles, too) in place of dominoes, but is fairly well executed. Enjoy.
I stumbled in this fun little project, a model of the Roman Coliseum made entirely of beer bottles. It was the Telegraph’s Picture of the Day back in May of 2009.
A model of the Colosseum made of 1,500 bottles of Heineken is displayed at Rome’s Termini Station to celebrate the final of the Champion’s League. The sculpture has a diameter of 11.5 feet and a height of 4.6 feet.
Watch in horror as several pallets of beer miss their calling to be imbibed and enjoyed and instead end up creating a river of beer inside a warehouse at an undisclosed location. The only clue is that the language of alarm heard in the background does not sound like English. Apart from that, it’s anybody’s guess. Oh, the horror!