BY JOHN HOLL
Sometimes all you want is a taste.
Step into your local beer shop and it's not uncommon to see shelf after shelf of brews from hundreds of breweries in all styles and varieties of packaging. From the ubiquitous cans and 12 bottles to the more elaborate cage and cork bottles, some with wax seals and yet others with swing tops.
Breweries, it seems, have been trending not only towards big beers – with a high alcohol or IBU punch – but big bottles as well. Special offerings often come in 22oz or 750ml offerings, and some breweries use them as their primary packaging.
Rogue Ales of Oregon is one such brewery that bottles most of its beer in 22oz "bomber bottles" or 750ml ceramic vessels.
Now, Rogue is in the process of rolling out 7 oz nip bottles.Yes. 7 oz – less than half a pint. But, just because the bottles are small doesn't mean the beers are. The nips will hold the Rogue XS series, the beers where Rogue brewers have fun, get a little crazy, kick up the alcohol content and get unique with ingredients.
"It's a kind-of return to our heritage," said Brett Joyce, president of Rogue. "When we first released XS, we offered them in 7oz bottles before we moved to the ceramic 750ml bottles."
Joyce said the move back to 7oz was largely economical. "The proportion of cost of beer and cost of bottle got of control."
So, the ceramics will be retired, but could make an appearance for "specials beers" down the road, said Joyce.
The brewery is also changing up its release schedule for the XS series, said Joyce. Where as the beers were available year round, they will now become seasonal offerings.
Currently, the Russian Imperial Stout is on shelves. In April it will be replaced by the Imperial Red. Summer months will bring the YSB English Bitter and I2PA. Late fall will bring a Scotch Ale and by December the Old Crustacean Barley Wine will be on shelves.
Seven once bottles are nothing new, of course. On the east, there are beers like Rolling Rock that are known for their green 7 oz bottles that many know as pony bottles. During the summer, it's not unusual to see smaller bottles of Corona, known as Coronita, just about anywhere the sun is out and there is water close by.
Joyce said that the bottles will retail individually for about $3.99 each.
"It's a third of the price from the larger bottles," he said. "It's an affordable way to have access to variety."