Suds from the bottom up
The opening of this Calgary Flames season was marked by the unveiling of a revolutionary invention at the ‘Dome.
If you’ve seen games or concerts there, you know what I mean.
Tapping a keg has always followed the laws of gravity, until now — now kegs fill your brew up from the bottom.
It’s nothing that will save the world from evil (unless that evil is a long line), but from the viewpoint of beer drinkers it’s pretty damn cool.
While marvelling at this new contraption, I began to think about how beer came to be dispensed like this. My questions led me to the book Brew North: How Canadians made beer and beer made Canada by Ian Coutts.
Coutts began by explaining that beer in Canada was originally sold to customers in corked long-neck bottles that were heavy and hard to store. As time went on, the bottles were eventually sealed by cap.
In 1958, the Brewers Association of Canada decided it was time all brewers used the same type of bottle. The “stubby” would rule the market until 1986 because of its durability and easier shipping qualities.
As American beers were introduced into the Canadian market in the ‘80s, so again were long-necked bottles. Labatt Brewing Company also made opening beer even quicker with the invention of twist tops in 1984. Your daily brewsky was now just as easy to drink as a glass of water.
While bottles were changing shape, cans also gained popularity in the ‘60s. Over time this gave birth to the bottle-versus-can debate. Now, I’m sure this has caused quite a stir over some dining room tables and campfires, but as TastingBeers.com states, it all comes down to personal preference, or, I guess, how much room you have in your cooler.
In 1994 the Brewers Association of Canada again decided to change the size of the beer bottle. What we see today — the brown, long-necked, twist-off — is what they set as the standard. It fits well in the hand and into most fridges. However, many microbreweries have developed their own types of bottles to fit their unique concoctions.
Since then, the way beer is delivered to your taste buds hasn’t really changed. Cans, bottles and the traditional keg are the everyday ways of relaxing with a cold one.
But, in early 2011, GrinOn Industries out of Washington changed the way beer made its way into your cup from a keg. They developed the Bottoms Up Draft Beer Dispensing System, which fills your cup with draft beer from the bottom.
Currently, there are six dispensers in action at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“The beer itself pours quicker and our objective is always to try and get our fans back to their seats as quickly as possible,” said Mark Vaillant, VP of food and beverage at the arena.
The system works through magnets opening a valve on the underside of your cup and then closing when the cup is full. The magnet fits over the hole in the bottom of the cup and becomes a decoration for your fridge door when you’re done.
“It definitely has a different look to it, that’s for sure,” Vaillant added. “So people are kind of intrigued by it, by the newness of it.”
GrinOn boasts that they hold the world record for the most number of pints filled by more than one person in a minute with a grand total of 56 pints.
So, in honor of the history of the bottles in your fridge, open up a cold one and appreciate how it got there.