In Support of Small in print

We love nips, it’s true. We love nips, we do. But where did this love of nips come from? The roots are a little opaque, but we first vocalized (or blogized) this affinity on All About Beer’s blog, Beer Soup. Click here to see where it began, then click the Next button at the end to jump from Pt. I to Pt. II, then again to Pt. III. The editors, in their infinite wisdom, allowed us to adapt the three-part blog into a bona fide feature story.

In keeping with the notion that smaller is sometimes better, despite our tendency to overwrite, we vowed to keep all posts to 250 words or less. We may have failed once or twice. But the story allowed us to expound on our argument for nips and other smaller, responsible packaging sizes and include many industry voices on their past, current, and future usage, to the tune of some 3,800 words. Oh wait, it looks like the tasting notes of a few available nips was left out….We smell four future posts as a result!

If you subscribe to AAB, flip to page 36 of the May issue. If you don’t, go to your nearest well-stocked news stand and buy it. (Or, y’know, wait a while for it to show up online.) In the meantime, here’s what the spread looks like:


About Brian
Author of beer books "Red, White, & Brew" & "Oregon Breweries." Championing responsible packages for responsible beer lovers. #Nips!

One Response to In Support of Small in print

  1. jesskidden says:

    Hardman’s claim that Schoenling’s Little Kings was the “first American beer in 7 ounce ‘ponies'” is nonsense. Little Kings was first marketed in 1958, by which time dozens (if not more) of US breweries had used 6/7/8 ounce bottles. Without doing any additional research (just based on my own files) the then number 1 and 2 brands Schlitz and Budweiser both were advertising 7 ounce bottles in 1948-9 period. Heileman marketed an 8 ounce “Steine” (correct spelling, not “Steinie”) bottle in 1941, and Rhinelander’s “Shorty” bottle came in 1940.

    In the previous, first decade after Repeal, Ballantine put it’s two strongest beers, IPA and Brown Stout, in 6 oz. “splits” and early batches of it’s famous Burton Ale were in 6 oz. longnecks. Feigenspan put it’s “Brilliant Brown Ale” in small bottles in the 1930’s as well.

    Rolling Rock’s iconic 7 oz. “pony” bottle was being advertised as “famous” in 1951 (not sure when it was first sold). Many other brewers used similar painted “Applied label” small bottles- Jones Brewing Co. (of Stoney’s Beer fame) used brown painted label 7 oz. bottles for it’s Esquire Beer into the 1980’s.

    Certainly, by the 1950’s and into the 1960-70’s 7 oz. returnable “nip”, “split” or “pony” bottles was a standard package for most breweries for at least some of it’s brands, usually it flagship. (7-8 oz. of beer at the time was consider a standard “serving size” and many brewers advertised their small bottles as containing “1 glass of beer”). A 1964 price list of the brands sold in NJ shows that most major brands were offered in a 7/8 oz nip- Ballantine Ale, IPA and Beer, Blatz, Budweiser, Carling Black Label, Duquense, Esslinger, Gretz, Hamm’s, Henley’s… (and that’s only 1/3 of the way through the alphabet). Throw-away bottles and cans were also available in that period and beyond, as the returnable/refillable bottles faded from the market.

    Lots of brewers used diminutive nicknames for the seven oz. bottles of their standard brand- like “Little” “L’il” “Shortie”, etc. My favorite is Fred Koch’s small bottles that they called “Kookies”. Horlacher sold one of their beers as “Short Snorter”.


    Also, note that the early vintages of Anchor’s Old Foghorn in the 1980’s were actually 6.3 oz. bottles.

    And – did Flying Dog ever own the Little Kings label? The brewery that FG bought in Frederick, MD had been owned by Snyder International which did own Little Kings as well as the other Hudepohl-Scheonling brands but after Flying Dog bought the brewery, the brand had moved onto being brewed at The Lion, and was owned (pre-Hardman) by “WM. HOOPER & CO., SBT CORP.”.

    That is where the 7 oz. bottling line came from that Flying Dog used – Snyder installed it there after they moved the brand out of Cincinnati, where it had been brewed at the former HS facility, then owned by BBC.

    (Would be happy to supply you with jpegs of ads or labels for many of the above.)

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