Beer Fact Friday: Bottle Caps
Also known as “crown caps” or simply “crowns,” the crimped caps in use on a majority of bottled beer worldwide today have been with us since 1892. That was the year that mechanical engineer William Painter of Baltimore received patents for his “Bottle Sealing Device”—a metal cap that could be crimped onto the bottle by machine. Referencing the cap’s flared shape before crimping, Painter dubbed his creation the “crown cap.” It soon became the worldwide standard for beer bottle closures.
Though the structure of the crown cap has changed little since 1892, tweaks have been made over the years. Painter’s original design called for a thin ring of cork under the metal cap; this gave way to a patented substitute called Nepro cork in 1927 and was replaced by polyvinyl chloride in the 1950s. Today, many versions are lined with “oxygen-scavenging” materials that will supposedly remove oxygen from the headspace (the air-filled gap between the liquid beer and the cap), thus extending the shelf-life of the beer. A twist-off version of the crown cap was invented in the 1960s, and though we’ve never used them for our beers, we hear they’re great for showing off at parties by opening bottles of beer with your eyes.
Beer Fact Friday is our weekly exploration of the topics that make beer the world’s most interesting beverage. Check back here next week—or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—for more fascinating beer trivia.