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Labatt to Bring Back the Stubby, Maybe

Will the stubby be making a comeback?

Labatt Breweries of Canada, wholly owned by AB-Inbev, has announced it is bringing back the stubby (read news article here). It has invested significant money to upgrade its Edmonton plant. Among the upgrades is to allow their bottling line to handle the iconic squat bottle.

For beer fans of a particular age and/or sentimental disposition this is quite exciting news. Maybe.

I’ll explain the maybe part in a second. But first some background. For all you young’uns out there, the stubby (pictured) was the industry standard bottle across Canada between 1961 and 1982. It was phased out during the 1980s as the big corporate brewers, under pressure from American beer, switched to today’s longer neck bottle. To this day some beer drinkers have never forgiven them.

Regular readers here know full well that I am a big fan of the stubby (read here). I own many cases of them in my home brewery, and have long argued they are the perfectly designed beer bottle, especially for naturally carbonated homebrew. If find the shape of the neck ideal for pouring while leaving sediment behind. Its stout design also makes it quite durable and break-proof. Over the years I have had a number of long neck bottles break during capping, but never once I have lost a stubby that way.

Besides there is something distinctly Canadian about the stubby. It is a piece of Canadian heritage. So that is why it is good news if the stubby is coming back. Though the irony is not lost on me of a Canadian icon being re-introduced by the Belgium-based AB-Inbev, the largest beer corporation in the world.

Now to the maybe. Here is my fear: they will not be bringing back the traditional stubby but a cheaper knock-off. In particular I fear the new version will have a twist-off top, much like the ones used by Brick Brewing, Red Stripe and others. That particular bottle has thinner glass and feels less sturdy – plus the dreaded twist top.

Call me a purist but a twist off stubby is not a true stubby.

There is also the issue that the product going into the new stubbies, if they end up being true stubbies, is equally not deserving of such a respected container. Labatt hasn’t announced which products will be packaged in stubbies, or when. But to be honest, the 1960s and 1970s were hardly the halcyon days for quality Canadian beer, so I can’t get all that worked up about that part.

Still, I am  hoping this will prove to be the real thing and not just another marketing gimmick. (Yes, I know it IS a marketing gimmick, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be authentic.)

I guess I, and you, will have to wait and see.

1 comment to Labatt to Bring Back the Stubby, Maybe

  • Mike

    Hi Jason , currently we can order Kokanee and Budweiser in stubby bottles. Molson Canadian and Coors Banquet have been available for quite awhile in this format as well. The literature they have provided states that consumers are more likely to purchase products that evoke a sense of nostalgia .

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