Guinness is Good for Nips

Read Bros. Dog's Head, found on Jess Kidden's Guinness in America site.

Read Bros. Dog’s Head, found on Jess Kidden’s Guinness in America site.

Our old friend Jess Kidden dropped in to share this nip nugget: “The word NIP is a trade-marked name owned by Read Bros. And may not be used on any other brand than Dog’s Head.” The full clip can be found on his Guinness in America site. He added that he:

Came across a booklet put out by one of the US importers of Guinness and Bass in the immediate post-Repeal era the other day.  Alex B. Shaw, Inc. imported the Guinness bottled by Read Bros., Ltd. of London under the Dog’s Head label (from my research, it seems that the Guinness bottled and imported from E. J. Burke might have been more prevalent in the US market).

Funnily enough, the day after we received this email, we saw a replica metal sign for Dog’s Head. Glad to know that, had we been around exactly 80 years ago, we could’ve bought a carton of either 4-dozen nips of Guinness or Bass.

This claim by Dog’s Head also made Kidden remark, “Makes me want to go through my files and see how many US brewers’ ads used ‘Nip’ specifically (as opposed to the casual use by consumers, bars, etc).  Off hand, the first one I thought of was this Butte ad:”

Thanks for keeping the nips slippin’, Kidden.

Submitted by Jess Kidden

Submitted by Jess Kidden

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All the Nips Fit to Print #4: Yuengling Porter

Taking a page (yes, pun intended) from Jay Brooks’s Beer in ads series, we welcome you to a series on vintage nip (or ponies, splits, pocket torpedoes, etc) print ads, sales sheet, and labels.

We came into this wellspring courtesy of a home-historian by the nom de bière Jess Kidden. Here we have two different labels from Yuengling, America’s Oldest Brewery (1829) as well as the largest independent brewing company in the country (which you might only know of if you live in one of the 13 eastern states they’re distributed in or you’ve read about them). Both labels are from their Porter. Curiously, the 8-oz bottle is referred to as a “Brownie” package. My only guess is that rather than their usual green bottle, they put the brown porter in a better, brown bottle. The other one is also curious and I wish I knew which came first. Instead of a whopping 8 ounces, the other one touting the beer as “wholesome and refreshing” was packaged 7 ounces at a time. Either way, it’s sure more responsible than the quart bottles you still can find in Pennsylvania to date.NIPYuenglingPorter2

NYT calls out brewers on wine-ing up beer bottles

ImageA story in The New York Times today notes that larger format bottles may be good for the brewers (in terms of their prestige and profits), but, we customers still prefer to keep things responsible. “Walk into a craft-beer store these days and you’ll see shelf after shelf taken over by giants: 22-ounce ‘bombers,’ 750-milliliter wine bottles, even three-liter jeroboams,” begins the story. It goes on to lay out the reasoning by brewers such as Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione who says, “A wine consumer in general accepts pricing stratification for 750 milliliters. They understand that an amazing bottle of merlot can cost three times as much as a bad bottle of merlot.” Happily, Michael Tonsmeire (noted homebrewer and beer blogger The Mad Fermentationist) provides a counterbalance to this story. “Priced per ounce, a 750-milliliter bottle can be twice as expensive as a six pack…It’s like having one entire wine bottle. I’m a decently sized male, and if I really wanted to, I could drink one. But that’s not a great Tuesday night.”

Alas, the Paper of Record neglected to offer a solution or two in the opposite direction. Keep beer’s price-point sufficiently high, keep it appearing exclusive or limited, and keep even big beers sessionable and affordable: bottle responsibly in 375-ml “half wine bottles” or, y’know…nips.

Time Out New York. Time In Half Pints

Time Out New York‘s new issue is all about “NYC’s Greatest Beer.” It’s like 7 pages of beer reporting from the brewing kings of Queens to haute beer-infused fare. There’s one section called “Out with the old, in with the brew” by Christopher Ross about new trends in beer. Our favorite? “The half pint is the new pint.”

With the explosion of beers on the market–and so many of them carrying fearsome ABVs–the 16-ounce pour can prove unduly limiting. As suds destinations like Proletariat and the Pony, the eight-ounce version has gained ascendance among in-the-know drinkers, who favor the new serving size for encouraging a wider sampling of drafts and being easier on the wallet and liver.

I’ll raise a toast to little glasses in the Big Apple.

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Companion nips

The Oxford Companion to Beer, edited by Garrett Oliver (and to which I’m a contributor among many esteemed colleagues), features nearly 900 pages about every topic pertaining to beer. You’d think there’d be a multipage entry for nips. Shockingly, you’d be wrong. But being the OCB, our little friends make their presence known on page 151 under bottle sizes.

The reputed pint (bottles)…had been largely replaced in the UK at the beginning of the 20th century by bottles in Imperial pints and quarts, 568 and 1136 ml, respectively. However, stronger ales and barley wines were frequently sold in bottles holding one-third of a pint, 6.66 fl oz, known as a “nip.”

Martyn Cornell, author of this entry (and the OCB’s ensuing OCBWiki) and blogger of the erudite and amusing Zythophile, continued:

In the United States, standard bottle sizes varied between 325 and 385 ml…Other bottle sizes included the ‘split,’ 6 US fl oz, for stronger beers.

Cheers to our little friends making a little splash in this oceanic compendium of beer knowledge.

All the Nips Fit to Print #3: PA nip sales

Taking a page (yes, pun intended) from Jay Brooks’s Beer in ads series, we welcome you to a series on vintage nip (or ponies, splits, pocket torpedoes, etc) print ads, sales sheet, and labels. We came into this wellspring courtesy of a home-historian by the nom de bière Jess Kidden. Here we have a sales sheet from a Pennsylvania distributor from 1954.

ImageInteresting to note that of the 19 “Premium Beers,” only 4 of those breweries remain (Coors wouldn’t reach that market for another 27 years.) But best of all, Jess Kidden has highlighted the “7-oz bottle beers” section! 21 different nips featured on their sales sheet including some well-known brands like Bud and Rolling Rock (now owned by ABI) to revered brands of yesteryear like Ballantine to ones lost in the Dustbin of History such as Goebel, Catasaqua Old Dutch, and one I’d love to try just for the name, Short Snorter.

“57 Famous Brands.” And over a third were available in nips.

All the Nips Fit to Print #2: Goebel Beer

Taking a page (yes, pun intended) from Jay Brooks’s Beer in ads series, we welcome you to a series on vintage nip (or ponies, splits, pocket torpedoes, etc) print ads, sales sheet, and labels.

We came into this wellspring courtesy of a home-historian by the nom de bière Jess Kidden. Here we have Goebel Beer, from the brewery that operated in Detroit from 1936-1964, before its eventual acquisition by Stroh’s. We love the copy in this ad from 1948:

It’s Goebel Beer…the good-tasting beer in the original Bantam bottle

Try it for size…it’s 7 ounces, one good glassful!

Try it for taste…it’s right from the cypress casks at Goebel!

Taste the reason why Goebel outsells all other beer in small bottles! Learn why Goebel is nationally famous for good taste!…

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