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German Beer Companies Are Running Out Of Bottles

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Photo Courtesy of Moritz Fiege Brewery

So far, the summer hasn’t been especially good to Germany.

First, the country’s soccer team, the reigning champions, failed to make another deep run in the World Cup and now the country’s bottled beer could very well be in jeopardy.  Moritz Fiege Brewery, a regional family-owned German brewery, announced late last week that the company is battling a pretty massive beer bottle shortage and since bottles must be purchased a year in advance, there’s no quick solution.  This comes on the heels of an ongoing CO2 shortage in the country and across Europe, which is plaguing local breweries.

Germans only expect the highest quality in their beer – and who can blame them – and because of the Reinheitsgebot a beer purity law that’s been in effect in the country for more than 500 years, beer is typically distributed in the form of bottles, as cans are looked down upon.  Fiege typically produces 100,000 to 120,000 bottles per day, however this summer – probably thanks to both the World Cup and a recent heat wave – the brewery is up to between 150,000 and 160,000 per day, so Fiege recently took to its Facebook to urge customers to return their used beer bottles, in the hopes of nipping this massive shortage in the bud.

“We need your help!” Fiege posted on its Facebook account. “Great weather + great beer = serious thirst. The catch: although we regularly buy new bottles, we’re running out. So before you go on your summer holiday, please be sure to return your Moritz Fiege empties. Make your motto: first the empties, then the holiday!”

Recycling bottles is nothing new in Germany, a country that offers a deposit of anywhere from eight to fifteen cents, which converts to between $.09 and $0.18 here in the United States.  That might be a good incentive but sometimes it’s not enough to get back the heavy and cumbersome bottles.  According to Deutsche Welle, there are approximately 82.6 million people in Germany, with an estimated two billion reusable bottles in circulation, with each container being filled an average of 36 times.  That might seem like plenty to go around but the only problem is that many of the breweries use a uniquely shaped bottle – and since Fiege uses a bottle with a cork, that really limits the comapny’s options.

Looks like more people will have to enjoy German beer on tap for now, until the problem is fixed, or the locals will have to make sure they’re depositing their empties in the proper place – because we certainly don’t want to see Germans deprived of their beloved beer.  Who knows what would happen then?