Bad news, beer lovers. Germany is having a shortage of beer bottles. It might not sound like a problem, but this summer they’ve been selling so much beer that people aren’t able to return their empty bottles quickly enough.
The bar industry in the United States sold some 196.9 million kegs of beer last year, but, while we hold our own in beer consumption, we’re no match for the Germans. Apparently, there are around 4 billion bottles floating around Germany, each of which gets refilled approximately 30 times. But, drinkers are slacking at returning their empties.
Piling up in recycling bins at homes all around Germany, some breweries have gotten so short on glass bottles that they’re reaching out to their customers to bring their bottles while coming to get more beer. Or they don’t get any beer.
There are a bunch of different factors that exacerbate this issue. First of all, there simply not enough bottles to support the beer consumption rate. Second, while bottles used to have one design and would be shared among several breweries for refilling, now glass bottles are designed specifically for single breweries. Finally — and most interestingly — German beer drinkers think canned beer is barbaric.
“I’ll only drink beer out of can if there’s no other alternative. A bottle is much more civilized. A can is ergonomically wrong and the beer warms up too quickly. But mainly it just looks cheap. Cheap and a bit trashy,” says Berlin beer enthusiast Marcel Hillebrand.
Harsh words coming from a beer-loving country that might not have a choice if they continue at this rate. Of course, Americans disagree with the bottle prejudice fostered by Germans. That’s why San Diego brewery Stone, when they opened in Berlin, paid no mind to the German bottle preference and stuck with cans. Still, canned beer only makes up 7% of the German beer market and the German beer market is vast.
Perhaps it’s time for Germany to hop on the canned wagon before it’s too late and they’re left thirsty with only a stockpile of empty bottles to console them.