Why Craft Beer Bombers Are The Worst 26 comments



There are a number of different ways to enjoy craft beer – at home, at a restaurant or at the local taproom. For me, most of the the beer I consume is done at my house. Ending the day with a single beer is quite common for me. This means that the beer I am drinking is packaged (bottled or canned). I have found that I really care how it is packaged and craft beer bombers are my least favorite type of packaging.

Evil Twin Liquid Double FudgeFor the longest time, beer came in 12 oz bottles or cans. This was the standard and everyone seemed quite happy with this format. Somewhere along the line, larger bottles gained popularity. Typically 22 or 25 oz, these large bottles are commonly called bombers. Today beer can come in 12, 16, 22, or 25 oz containers.

When I started to really dive into the craft beer world, the best beers came in a bomber. When entering a bottle shop, my first stop was the bomber section to see what limited release I could get my hands on. I really enjoyed feeling like I was buying something unique but that feeling has faded as I have decided that these bottles are not for me.


The Problem With Craft Beer Bombers

Too Much Beer

My goal when drinking a beer is to enjoy the taste, complexity and style. So quality is much more important than quantity. Bombers are simply more beer than what I want to consume in a single session. If I want more beer then chances are I will move on to a different beer instead of drinking the same thing all night.

These are my preferences but I know many that feel the same way. This means that we must save the craft beer bombers for sharing with a friend or a group at a bottle share. Furthermore, if I had two 12oz bottles, instead of a bomber, then I could enjoy that beer on two separate occasions instead of drinking it all during one sitting. For those that like to age beer, small bottles are idea as well. One four pack of a beer can be enjoyed now and three times in the future.


Related Post: Three Questions To Ask Before Aging Craft Beer


Wrong Kind Of Beer

Craft Beer BomberWhat is most odd is the type of beer that is frequently found in bombers. There are more high ABV beers in these types of bottles than anything else. Stouts dominate this category; especially if it is barrel-aged. This really doesn’t make much sense since most people will drink less of a high ABV beer. It would be better to put a low ABV beer into these large bottles. But that goes against the philosophy of craft beer bombers featuring a premium or rare brew.

Now this is not always the case because some lower ABV beers will make it into large bottles from time to time. For example, saisons, sours and others are often featured in the larger bottles. But more often than not, it is a high octane beer like 12% barrel-aged Russian imperial stouts that is in the largest bottles.

Pricing

The most unsettling issue is with pricing. Craft beer bombers are often priced much higher per ounce compared to similar beers found in 12oz cans or bottles.

For example, it is common for a bomber to be priced around $15. Which makes is the beer $.68 per ounce. If a 12oz bottle was priced in a similar manner it would be around $8. How many $8 bottles of beer are out there? And at $15 it might not even be a barrel-aged beer as most that have been in a barrel are closer to $20 a bottle.

There are some exceptions; the Lagunitas Cappuccino and Rivertown Death both come to mind. Both are well under $10 a bottle and are excellent beers. Still probably more than I want to drink in one sitting but at least the price is fair.

In defense of the pricing, some of these beers in bombers are small batch, special release, etc. These factors drive up the cost. However, I am often deterred by the cost of bombers and I don’t think that I am alone.

Craft Beer BombersWhile I love Founders, their latest release of KBS has me scratching my head. A four-pack of this Kentucky Breakfast Stout beer is around $24 for a four-pack ($6 a bottle) which makes it $.50 per ounce. Pricey but not out of question for a barrel-aged beer of this quality. The same beer also comes in a bomber (25oz) and is around $20 or $.80 per ounce. It is more expensive to buy the larger bottle. Why? It should be the same price if not slightly less than the smaller bottles.


Related Post: Founders Frootwood Review


Times Are Changing

Luckily, it appears that craft beer drinkers are in agreement – craft beer bombers are not ideal. Many breweries have started to move away from the larger bottles in favor of the traditional 12 oz bottle based on consumer demand.

Southern Tier is a great example of this trend to smaller bottles. In the past, their limited release beers were almost exclusively in bombers. Now Pumpking, Warlock, Creme Brulee, their latest release Thick Mint and many others are available in both bombers and 4-packs of 12oz bottles. Thick Mint sounded really good but I passed on it when I found a bomber of it. Then a few weeks later, gladly bought a single 12oz bottle.

Locally in Cincinnati, Listermann Brewing is moving towards using more 12oz bottles where bombers were used in the past. I buy more of their releases because they are in smaller bottles.

The best part of beer moving away from large bottles is I am able to share beer with more people. While some will argue that bombers are great for sharing; they are only great for sharing with people I am with at the moment. A four or six pack allows me to give beer to friends and co-workers or ship it to craft beer friends across the country. Smaller packaging is better for spreading craft beer and making more friends with it.

Brewing beer is like any other business, companies have to continually alter their practices to meet the changing demand of consumers. Moving more and more beer into 12oz bottles or cans is what I want to see. Do I still buy craft beer in bombers? Yes, there will also be something that I want that is only available in a bomber. But overall, I am buying a lot less large bottles than I did in the past and that trend will continue.


What size bottles do you prefer?

Have you ever passed on a beer because it was in a large bottle?


 

 


26 thoughts on “Why Craft Beer Bombers Are The Worst

    • Matt @milomilz

      I actually bought a bottle that has a swing top cap for those times I have a high ABV bomber and I don’t want to drink the whole thing in one sitting. I fill the swing top and drink what’s left. Saving the rest for another time (within a few days, of course)

      • Craft Beer Joe Post author

        That’s a great strategy; I will have to invest in one for just that reason.

        • Matt @milomilz

          I picked one up at TJ Maxx for a few dollars. I don’t use it often, but it has come in handy a few times.

  • Heath

    The term “bomber” refers specifically to a 22 oz bottle. This article would more appropriately be titled “Why large format bottles are the worst” (which I do agree with). Cans are the future, as long as they can handle the rigors of cellaring for extended periods. I don’t think we know the honest answer to that one yet. WIth cans, new sizes come along, with the 19.2 oz “stovepipe” being the front-runner to replace the bombers and 750s of “yesteryear”. I fear this may unfortunately result in paying the 22 oz price for only 19.2 oz of beer…

    • Craft Beer Joe Post author

      Thanks for the clarification. I guess in my experience people use “bomber” for anything above 16oz which isn’t very accurate. I agree about cans. But I don’t see myself paying 22oz price for 19.2. Sidenote – I should have a review of the Oskar Blues BA Ten Fidy posted later this week. It comes in a stovepipe can which I thought was really unique. It catches the eye for sure. Cheers!

        • Craft Beer Joe Post author

          Seems like anything above 16oz is called a bomber but technically only the 22oz bottle is one. I really prefer ounces over ml too. I’ve never been good at metric.

    • Craft Beer Joe Post author

      That’s a great stout and I was pleased to see that they are now putting it in 16oz cans. Not sure on the price point but glad that the ounces are on the way down.

  • Eric

    I agree with most of what you said. I dislike the bombers because they are too small and too pricey per ounce. I typically share with friends, and a bomber is no good for more than 3 people especially if it’s a really good beer. A 4 pack could easily accommodate up to 8 people if necessary. I’m glad I’m not the only one to feel this way about bombers and other large vessels. (Although the 750s are great for sharing in party style situations).

    • Craft Beer Joe Post author

      For a few people, larger bottles can be good for sharing but for the most part – they just aren’t ideal. I have heard feedback that large bottles are preferred for many that like to age their beer. And I know many sours come in large bottles as well. So there is a good use for them; just not for me most of the time; cheers!

    • Craft Beer Joe Post author

      I think it is but many beers only come in those sizes. But there are times that I don’t have the right opportunity to share. Which means that I really can’t enjoy that beer the way I want to. It’s not the end of the world; I just prefer smaller containers for more flexibility in how I drink it.

      • West Coast Beer Geek

        I agree, sharing ins’t a reasonable expectation for those beers. For truth, they are packaged that way because the margins are better for the brewery, less work, often hand filled in smaller breweries so using small bottles isn’t feasible. More and more breweries are moving to a smaller bottle for big beers, reacting to customer demand which is nice.

        • Craft Beer Joe Post author

          You are correct; it is easier (more profitable) for most breweries to use large bottles. I am all for them making money but the demand is forcing many to move into 12oz bottles. Honestly, I buy more when they are in 12oz bottles so I think it has to be more beneficial for them to sell more than have it sit on shelves.

          • West Coast Beer Geek

            Yeah I buy way less 22oz now. Way more 4 packs of cans (much easier to split’share) and smaller bottles of big beers. Also more affordable if you like the variety game. Avery does a great job of this!

          • Craft Beer Joe Post author

            Avery does do a good job doing a lot of 12oz bottles for high ABV beers. I hear Tweak is really good

  • backpacksocial

    The one thing brought to my attention is the cost of the 22 oz bottle is greater than the cost of the 12 oz bottles. So it’s plausible that the increase in cost is also associated to the size. That being said, why not sell the special edition is the same bottle or can you normally use instead and save on the cost.

    • Craft Beer Joe Post author

      The larger bottles are more expensive but in many cases the cost per ounce is still much higher for bombers. I agree; that using the same size for all products would have to result in some cost savings.

  • tylerhoppydudes

    150% agree with it being “too much beer” in a bomber! A lot of time those beers are ranging in high ABV% and you don’t wanna finish the entire thing by yourself

    • Craft Beer Joe Post author

      For sure; I know many people like to share bombers but when you don’t have someone to share with then it’s difficult to justify.

  • Keith

    For me the worst is IPAs in a bomber. I’ll usually save bombers for when I can share them, but I don’t want to sit on IPAs for too long since they’re better fresh. I’m actually OK with high ABV (non-IPA) beers in bombers since they can age a bit until the proper occasion comes up.

    • Craft Beer Joe Post author

      Good point; I agree that if the beer can sit for a while then you can easily wait until you have someone to share it with. IPAs seem to make no sense to me. 16oz or less is adequate.

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