Helix Scandinavica News Bulletin no 14 -2010
Page 6
Helix Scandinavica News Bulletin no 14 -2010
Page 7
Even Rev. Samuel Henshall wrote in 1796 to
Mathew Boulton suggesting the marketing of
his corkscrew in Edinburgh, “as immense Quan-
tities of bottled Beer is used in Scotland” (Bert
Giulian p. 19, Corkscrews of the Eighteenth
Century).
Hundreds of different closure designs and pat-
ents came in the second part of the 19th cen-
tury. The Lightning closure or ‘flip over’ was the
most widely used in Europe, especially in central
Europe and Scandinavia. These were as a result
of the expansions of cities and increasing mar-
ket demands. In spite of these threats, the cork
continued to remain the main closure for beer
bottles. In 1892 William Painter was granted a
The cork used as closure in beer bottles
Jens Arnbjerg, Helgir Gees Solheim and Bjørn Berger
US patent 468,258 for his crown cork. In the
beginning the crown cork met a lot of protests
claiming it could not hold the pressure. This was
of course true as the standardization of bottle-
necks did not yet meet the proper requirements.
The quality of beer was also questioned and the
Crown Cork and Seal Company changed the
inner paper seal with a membrane of cork to sat-
isfy their customers. Many breweries continued
using cork well into the 1930’s and Guinness
in Ireland had corked bottles until the 1960’s.
Gradually however the crown cap replaced most
other closures including the cork and remains
today, the main closure for beer bottles in the
world.
The first beer bottles in Scandinavia
In Scandinavia we have no references of bottles
being used for beer before the larger breweries
were established, in Denmark - Jacobsen 1826
later known as Carlsberg, in Sweden - Pripps
1828 and in Norway - Aass 1847.
As in the
case of both Europe and North America most
of the distribution and production of beer in
Scandinavia had been through local breweries
where beer was sold in small and large barrels.
In Scandinavia we also had a long tradition of
brewing ‘at home’ a custom that continued well
into the 1940’s.
Norwegian combination
nickel plated cast iron
prong and crown
cap lifter as handle
tool.
This slim prong
is specially
made
for beer
bottles.
The com-
bination with the
crown cap lifter indi-
cates that it was made
around 1912-13 when
some Norwegian brew-
eries changed from using
nature corks to crown
caps on beer bottles.
It is made by Gro-
rud Jernvarefabrik
(hardware factory in
Oslo 1911-2001).
Hook with wooden shaft
advertising TUBORG ØL
from around 1925.
Right: The hook used in a
“Tuborg, Rød”
bottle
from
about 1940.
In 1901 cork was still the cheapest way of closing
beer bottles. Because of the late fermentation in the
bottle and development of CO2 after closure the cork
had to be fixed with an iron wire to prevent blow
out.
Therefore several European breweries used cork and
wire in most of the first half of the 20th century.
Pictured is a wire sealed beer bottle from Tuborg
Breweries from around 1935.
The first time we hear of cork used in beer is 1624 where Sir Hugh Platt in his Delights for Ladies
advises that:
“When your Beere is ten or twelve dayes old, whereby it is growne reasonable cleer, then
bottle it, making corkes very fit for bottles, and stop them close”
(Watney & Babbidge p.13).
Sweden was the first country in the world to
introduce a standardized beer bottle in 1884,
called “Knoppölflaska”. It used a cork and was
used in both Sweden and Norway.
The first Crown Cork to appear in Scandinavia
was in Norway. It was already in use in 1912-
13 (C.J. Hambro p.138, Frydenlunds Bryggeri
Tuborg Traditionel Pilsner, Denmark, made for the
125 anniversary
(est. 1875) in 2000.
It is from a
limited series of old beer bottles who were made for
this occasion as copies. This bottle is corked almost as
a champagne bottle with metal seal and wire to hold
the cork. The cork is wedge shaped and formed with
a handhold to pull the cork. No corkscrew necessary
to open this bottle.
Two old beer bottles.
Left: “Knoppölflaska” from Alingsås Bryggeri, Swe-
den, from 1930’s shown with a typical combination
tool; box for chewing tobacco with knife for cutting
the tobacco and a rather short corkscrew
obviously
meant for beer bottles.
Right: Fredrikstad Bryggeri, Norway, from 1915
(marked) shown with the Kleiser patented cork-
screw meant primarily for beer bottles.
Development of the beer bottle
During the 17th and 18th century, the use of
corks in beer bottles was widely spread mostly in
Great Britain and Holland. To avoid the corks
shooting out they were often sealed with a heavy
layer of wax or fasted with wire, a method well
known from champagne.