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.
Both bottles pictured are very similar in shape and size and contained beer though the bottle to the right is of a type that was primarily used for soda/mineral water and has distinctly heavier glass than the bottle to the left.
Fortunately, there were stylistic differences between the typical containers for the two products that allows a person to reasonably differentiate which product a given bottle was used the of the time.
The advent and widespread use of bottle making machines in the first couple decades of the 20th century, and the related move towards shape standardization, further narrowed the dominant styles for most bottle styles including those intended for beer.
The export style is still one of the most common beer bottle styles.
By the late 18th century, beer was being bottled in the northern Atlantic seaboard states in various black glass bottles in enough quantity that some was being exported (Munsey 1970; Mc Kearin & Wilson 1978).
By the second quarter of the 19th century, beer (and the related soda/mineral water) bottles began to evolve a style of their own though "strong, heavy, and black" bottles continued to be used for beer bottling up through at least the late 1870s and even until the early 20th century with imported bottles (Wilson & Wilson 1968; Mc Kearin & Wilson 1978).However, until the early 1870s the lighter lager beers were a relatively unusual bottled product nationwide.When bottled it was mostly for local distribution due to the issue of spoilage, though the heavier beers (porter, ale, stout) did preserve better than lager due to higher alcohol and hopping levels, both of which acted as preservatives (Wilson 1981; Papazian 1991).However, using bottles to contain beer was uncommon during that time as beer was dispensed from kegs in taverns and inns and bottles were relatively rare and expensive.The types of bottles used for bottling beer in the earliest days would have been the common heavy glass black glass utilitarian bottles of the era which were used for various liquid products.However, the heavier glass is not a reliable diagnostic feature and frequently one type of bottle was also used - or reused - for the other product.