The New and (Maybe) Improved Beverage Containers

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Beverage producers just keep on inventing new bottles and cans — and growlers and pouches and “Vinis” — to hold beer, wine and other drinks.

This summer, your beverage of choice may come in an innovative new container that makes the drink fresher and tastier. Then again, the vessel’s main innovation could just be that it’s more eye-catching than the usual lineup of bottles and cans. Here are a few of the beverage industry’s latest packaging creations:

There’s been something of a renaissance in beer-can innovations lately, with craft beers rolling out special cans that supposedly give beer fresher taste and Budweiser’s “bow-tie” can design, which doesn’t affect the taste but sure does look weird. Budweiser manufacturer Anheuser-Busch InBev has also started testing a Bud Light Vented Can, which allows the drinker to pop open a second hole on top for “a smoother pour with less glug.” And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the company will be introducing a new bottle for Bud Light Platinum. It’ll come in aluminum and feature a top that twists off and is closable: the design supposedly gets beer colder faster, and, like a soda bottle, the beer container should be able to retain fizz longer if the drinker twists the top back on in between swigs.

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In the craft-beer world, meanwhile, the hottest beverage container is the growler, a juglike vessel made to hold beer that’s poured straight from the keg and keep it fresh for days, if not weeks. A stretch of breweries and stores in Columbus, Ohio, has been nicknamed “growler alley” because of the number of spots where growlers filled with craft beer can be purchased by takeout customers. A bill expected to be made into law in Michigan will allow bars and restaurants to sell growlers to to-go customers. And in the craft-beer haven of Colorado, reports the Denver Post, brewers are one-upping one another with growlers of all shapes, sizes and designs — including stainless-steel growlers and growlers that are specially capped and carbonated to retain their freshness for more than a month.

As an alternative to the growler, some companies are selling Capri Sun–like beer pouches that hold 64 oz. (1.9 L) of frosty, frothy, squeezable brews. They come with a screw cap on top, so no need to puncture the pouch with a straw.

Speaking of Capri Sun, it’s the kids who grew up drinking this juice in a pouch who are now the primary market for the Vini, a test-tube-like vessel that’s flat on top and at the bottom and holds a single glass of wine — good wine too, not the cheap stuff that might otherwise come in a tiny bottle on an airplane.

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“This is the generation that grew up on … those fruit juices in little packs,” the Wine Institute’s Gladys Horiuchi told the Miami Herald. “Those people are of drinking age, and they’re willing to buy this packaging because they drank it as a kid. There are still people who like traditional bottles, but Americans are willing to accept something different.”

The Vini bottle reportedly cost $2 million to develop, and incorporates a specially threaded cap rather than the usual bottle cork. The thinking behind creating the smaller container is that oftentimes people don’t want to open an entire bottle of fine wine, and therefore the Vini, holding just one glass of vino, makes sense as an alternative. A four-bottle set is being sold starting at around $35.

Wine is also becoming more readily available in cans, as the New York Times reported in late 2011. In early June, Spirit Airlines announced it had commenced selling Friends Wine in a Can for $7 a pop on flights.

Coca-Cola has been on something of a roll recently, testing out quirky new bottles and cans that are probably just gimmicks that’ll never be manufactured on a mass scale — but they’re gimmicks that have gotten a lot of attention. One concept is the “sharing can,” a seemingly regular can of Coke that twists and splits into two halves, one of which you can share with a friend. The special can was available on a very limited basis in Singapore.

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Another new Coca-Cola container has even less chance than the sharing can of being widely sold to the public: it’s a bottle made entirely of ice, presumably created just for the purposes of filming a commercial in Colombia.