The Rise of Plastic Beer Bottles

In the world of packaging, glass bottles and aluminum cans have long been the go-to choices. However, there is another option that is gaining popularity – plastic beer bottles. While commonly associated with other beverages, such as , plastic bottles are making their way into the beer industry, offering a lightweight and shatterproof alternative to traditional packaging materials.

One of the primary reasons why plastic bottles are not commonly used for beer is due to the nature of the material itself. The molecular structure of most plastics is not ideal for preserving carbonation and preventing oxygen from entering the bottle, which can lead to stale beer. However, advancements in technology have led to the development of PET plastic, which is specifically designed to address these concerns.

PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, is a type of plastic that is widely used in the food and industry. It is known for its clarity, strength, and resistance to impact and shattering. In the case of plastic beer bottles, PET offers the benefits of being lightweight and virtually unbreakable, making it a convenient choice for outdoor events, picnics, and other situations where glass may not be practical or allowed.

To maintain the quality of the beer, PET plastic beer bottles are typically amber colored. This tint helps to block out harmful UV rays that can degrade the beer and affect its taste over time. The bottles are also designed to resemble traditional beer bottles, allowing consumers to enjoy the familiar experience of drinking from a glass bottle while benefiting from the advantages of plastic packaging.

When it comes to shelf life, plastic beer bottles have their limitations. Stored properly in a refrigerated environment, bottled beer can last up to six months. However, if exposed to warm temperatures, the beer may spoil in as little as three months. It is important for consumers to be mindful of storage conditions to ensure the best possible quality and taste.

While plastic beer bottles may not be the preferred choice for all beer enthusiasts, they offer a convenient and practical option for certain situations. Whether you're enjoying a cold one at a picnic, attending an outdoor festival, or simply looking for a lightweight alternative to glass, plastic beer bottles can provide a viable solution.

Plastic beer bottles are a lightweight and shatterproof alternative to glass packaging. While the molecular structure of most plastics is not ideal for preserving carbonation and preventing oxygen from entering the bottle, advancements in technology have led to the development of PET plastic, which addresses these concerns. With its amber color and familiar bottle shape, plastic beer bottles offer consumers a convenient and practical option for enjoying their favorite brews.

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Is Any Beer Sold In Plastic Bottles?

In the United States, it is uncommon to find beer sold in plastic bottles. The most widely used packaging options for beer are glass bottles and aluminum cans. However, there are some exceptions during the holiday season where you may come across special editions of beer packaged in plastic bottles, often referred to as “drinkable ornaments.”

Here is a breakdown of the common packaging mediums for beer in the United States:

1. Glass Bottles: Glass bottles have been a traditional choice for beer packaging. They provide a classic and premium feel, offering a clear view of the beer's color and clarity. Glass bottles come in various sizes, including standard 12-ounce (355 ml) bottles and larger 22-ounce (650 ml) bottles commonly used for .

2. Aluminum Cans: Aluminum cans have gained popularity in recent years due to their convenience and portability. Cans are lightweight, easily stackable, and offer better protection against light and oxygen, which can affect beer quality. They are available in different sizes, from standard 12-ounce (355 ml) cans to larger 16-ounce (473 ml) or 24-ounce (710 ml) cans.

3. Plastic Bottles: While plastic bottles are commonly used for other beverages, such as soda or , they are not commonly used for beer in the United States. Plastic bottles are not as popular for beer packaging due to concerns about the potential for off-flavors or the degradation of beer quality caused by interaction with the plastic material.

It's important to note that beer packaging preferences may vary in different countries or regions. In some places, such as sports stadiums or music festivals, you may find beer sold in plastic cups or cups with plastic lids, but this is different from traditional plastic bottles.

Is It OK To Put Beer In A Plastic Bottle?

Placing beer in a plastic bottle is generally not recommended due to several reasons. The molecular structure of most plastics is not well-suited for preserving carbonation in the beer or preventing oxygen from entering the bottle, which can lead to the beer losing its freshness and flavor over time. Here are a few key points to consider:

1. Carbonation preservation: Plastic bottles do not provide an effective barrier to maintain carbonation levels in beer. The carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, which gives beer its fizziness, can slowly escape through the tiny pores in plastic materials. This can result in a loss of carbonation and a flat-tasting beer.

2. Oxygen permeability: Plastic is generally more permeable to oxygen compared to other packaging materials like glass or aluminum. Oxygen exposure can lead to oxidation, causing off-flavors and spoilage in beer. The ingress of oxygen can also accelerate the staling process, negatively impacting the quality and taste of the beer.

3. Light sensitivity: Many plastic bottles are not designed to protect beer from light, especially ultraviolet (UV) rays. Exposure to UV light can cause a chemical reaction with the compounds in beer, resulting in a “skunky” flavor. Glass bottles, on the other hand, offer better protection against light, helping to maintain the beer's flavor integrity.

4. Potential chemical leaching: Some types of plastic may leach chemicals into the beer, especially if the beer is stored in the bottle for an extended period. This can affect the taste and safety of the beer. It is advised to use food-grade plastics if considering storing beer in plastic bottles.

Considering these factors, it is generally recommended to use glass or aluminum cans for storing beer as they provide better protection against carbonation loss, oxygen ingress, light exposure, and potential chemical leaching. These materials are better suited for maintaining the freshness, flavor, and overall quality of the beer.

How Long Can You Keep Beer In A Plastic Bottle?

When it comes to storing beer in a plastic bottle, it's important to note that the shelf life may vary compared to bottled beer. Plastic bottles are not as effective in protecting the beer from light and oxygen, which can lead to the beer deteriorating more quickly. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Temperature: The storage temperature plays a crucial role in the longevity of beer. If you keep the plastic-bottled beer in a cool and stable environment, it can last for about three to four months. However, if the beer is exposed to higher temperatures, such as in a warm room or under direct sunlight, it might spoil within a shorter period, possibly within two to three months.

2. Oxygen exposure: Plastic bottles are more permeable to oxygen compared to glass bottles. This means that over time, oxygen can seep into the bottle and interact with the beer, leading to oxidation and a decrease in quality. The longer the beer is exposed to oxygen, the quicker it will spoil.

3. Light exposure: Similar to oxygen, plastic bottles are not as effective at blocking out light as glass bottles. Ultraviolet (UV) light can interact with compounds in the beer, resulting in a “skunky” or “lightstruck” flavor. To minimize this, it's best to store plastic-bottled beer in a dark place or use opaque containers to shield it from light.

4. Container quality: The quality of the plastic bottle itself can also influence the shelf life of the beer. Higher-quality plastic bottles with better oxygen and light barrier properties can help extend the beer's lifespan. It's essential to choose bottles specifically designed for storing beer, as they often have improved features to protect its quality.

If you want to keep beer stored in a plastic bottle, it's recommended to consume it within three to four months if stored in a cool and dark place. However, keep in mind that the beer's quality may deteriorate more quickly compared to bottled beer due to increased oxygen and light exposure.


Plastic beer bottles provide a lightweight and shatterproof alternative to traditional glass bottles. Made from food grade PET plastic, these bottles are designed to resemble the shape and color of a classic beer bottle. However, it is important to note that plastic is not considered the ideal packaging material for beer due to its molecular structure. Plastics are not as effective at retaining carbonation and preventing oxygen from entering the bottle, which can lead to staling and spoilage of the beer. Therefore, while plastic beer bottles offer convenience and durability, they may not be the best choice for preserving the quality and freshness of beer over an extended period of time.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.