Big Brown Bottles

Steve Taylor, Retail Manager, explains how sharing really is caring

The inspiration for my blog this month has come from both customers and colleagues. Whilst the delight of occasionally enjoying a beer to yourself in peaceful isolation cannot be underestimated, it’s also a delight to share and, in so doing, get to try things you otherwise wouldn’t have dared. Whether by price, ABV or sheer extravagance, the big brown bottles of promise are sometimes a little too much for one pocket, especially if you’re still finding your feet with world class beers. So that’s where we’ve stepped in to help share the love.

Every Tuesday at BottleShop: Canterbury and BottleShop: Margate we host #BigBottleCracking, inviting customers to share in what can often be considered pretty pricey bottles for just £4 a pour. If the beer is a domestic or Belgian £12-£25 one, we generally offer a 175ml glass and if it is a more expensive and higher abv £25-40 treat from The Bruery or Jester King say, we will serve in a 100ml pour. Recent weeks have seen all kinds of beauties including Maracaibo Especial from Jolly Pumpkin and The Bruery’s Midnight Autumn Maple. Our aim is simple: to make extra special beer accessible to all.

BottleShop customers have taken the bottle share to heart and often organise their own. There are ‘special occasion’ 750ml British beers like Kernel’s Bière de Saison (£14) or Burning Sky’s Flanders Red (£16) which, when shared between three or four friends, is just £3 - £5 a person. To see people putting into the beer kitty and debating their next purchase is a wonderful thing. This ritual of communal drinking, of one person pouring and serving their friends, at these prices, makes these beers not just special occasion beers, but everyday beers too. It’s about the pleasure of sharing beer affordably with friends.

It’s not just us, the culture of bottle shares is catching on fast in the UK. No longer are big bottles being consigned to the dimly lit bottom shelves of craft beer bar fridges, nor stashed above eye level on the dusty top shelves of bottle shops.

We’ve changed too. In July and August this year, we worked with a 50 year old, family-owned company called Verco to design and install four fridges at BottleShop: Bermondsey. Our evolving ‘beer library’ dream is now a reality. The story of the fridges certainly warrants a separate blog post (watch this space) where we look forward to explaining how the open-fronted, efficient air curtain fans and industry-leading ColdShelf technology all work. However, for today’s blog, it’s meant that all of our 750ml bottles are now at accessible heights and ideal serving temperatures. Customers love it and they’re flying off the shelves. We could not be happier to welcome, usher in and encourage this culture of 750ml bottles and bottle shares.

With this in mind, our words to the wise:

To our lovely BottleShop customers, we encourage you to share more and more: it feels great, and we’d love to help you find the right one that will knock the socks off your friends and family.

To our wholesale customers, I’d like to encourage you to hold events, and simple BigBottle crackings, so your customers can broaden their horizons and appreciate the beauty of the 750ml bottle.

To brewers, I’d like to ask you to brew more fun, dinner table and bottleshare worthy beers: beers that allow you to spread your wings and push your boundaries. The interest is there for the taking.

Sharing is, after all, one of the most enjoyable ways of caring.

If you’re feeling fired up to delve into the world of bottle sharing, here are a selection of some of our current 750ml favourites from Belgium, the US and the UK. Also, keep an eye out for the new Mills beers landing on our website next week!

Jester King

The Bruery

Burning Sky


Trois Dames


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