National Prohibition was the death of many local breweries who could not make survive just producing near beer, malt syrup, or soda type products during that dry time.
The number of brewery plants in operation plummeted from 1,345 in 1915 to just 31 who were able to resume production within 3 months of the Volstead act revisions allowing for 3.2% beer in April 1933, although full repeal (21st amendment which included spirits and wine) did not occur until December 1933 (Okrent 2010).
Beer and ale - and the related stout, porter, and weiss - are the yeast fermented products of various grains, most commonly malted barley and/or wheat.
(Note: All four of these very similar products are lumped together and referred to simply as "beer" in this section.) Beer brewing began in the U. during early colonial days when beer was consumed in large quantities on all sorts of occasions and during almost all meals.
As noted above, beer/ale and soda/mineral water bottles share many characteristics including heavy glass construction, cylinder shape, and similar closures appropriate to the time period.
If there is any one physical feature that differentiates them it is that soda/mineral water bottles tend to be of heavier glass than beer bottles due to the higher carbonation pressures and use of machines to force carbonate the contents (beer was usually naturally bottle carbonated) (Papazian 1991).
The bottle pictured to the right is an example of a style commonly used for both beer and soda/mineral water during the 1840s on into the 1870s (this bottle dates from the mid-1850s and is discussed later).
In the early 1870s, the process of pasteurization was applied to beer bottling allowing the increasingly popular lighter (in color and body) lager beers to be bottled and transported long distances without spoilage - something impossible before that time (Wilson 1981).
Another limiting factor to beer/ale bottle variety was that a large majority of the bottles produced during the period covered by this website were in some shade of amber, aqua, or colorless glass, with earlier (pre-1870) bottles tending towards some shade of green, olive green, black glass, and aqua.
Other colors - including cobalt blue - are unusual but occasionally seen.
Early (pre-1870s) dedicated beer bottles (i.e., made specifically for beer) were very similar or identical to bottles used for soda and mineral waters and unmarked (not embossed or labeled) examples of these bottles can not be differentiated as to what product they originally held.