Six-packs vs. four-packs

Not a question on muscle structure, this question covers a far more important subject matter…beer!!

Why is it that in America alcoholic beverages are sold in packs of 6 (at least this is what T.V. has tought me) whereas in the U.K. they are sold in packs of 4? It would be good if we could avoid answers along the lines of “because Americans can drink more” but that may be wishful thinking :wink:

I’m presuming that there is a factual answer to this as in my experience it is a well adhered to rule that beer in America is never sold in packs of four and I have never seen packs of six in the U.K, only packs of 4, 8, 12, 16 and 24 following a multiples of 4 rule.

Economics. Packaging costs (materials, processing and labor) are should be less to make four six-pack holders than to make six four-pack holders. Pretty obvious, eh? But that doesn’t really answer your question: What is the motvating factor for beer manufacturers to choose the more costly method of packaging, does it? And that’s not quite so obvious. Or at least more difficult to connect to package size. The answer is average refrigerator size. Refrigerators sold in the United States tend to be significantly larger than those sold in Europe. And if we want to extrapolate this even further, refrigerators are on average larger in the United States than in Europe, because the homes here are also larger on average.

I should add that we can probably prove this, or at least lend some support to it, by comparing the average package size of other common foods.

I though you were going to say that we can probably prove this, or at least lend some support to it, by consuming beer from both package types. Of course, the experiment will have to be replicated several times…

This doesn’t really answer the questions, but most of the beers coming out of the UK do have 4-packs available in the states. I know I can get a 4-pack of Guinness (ok it’s Irish), Boddington’s, Strongbow and some Sam Smiths here in Denver. I will note that the 4 packs are usually the 16.9oz cans or 18oz bottles vs. the US 12oz bottle/can. So in effect, you are getting close to the same amount of beer if you get 4 pack of import (68oz total) vs. 6 pack of domestic (72oz total).

Here comes the obligatory “slight” hijack.

Are there some Soft Drinks/Soda that comes in 9 packs? More importantly, in 9 “rings” as it where?

It might also have to do with the fact that a signifigantly larger proportion of Brits do a signifigantly higher proportion of their drinking in pubs. Therefore the perceived need for beer in the fridge is lessened, hence fewer cans per pack. :smiley:

Sprecher, a large microbrewery (if that makes any sense) in Milwaukee, sells their beer in four packs, but, as mentioned above, each bottle is a pint (16 oz)[sup]1[/sup]. Virtually all bottled beer and most cans in this country that are sold as part of a pack, as opposed to “fourties” and the like, are 12 oz. So, as 1yearlurker indicates, you’re getting the same amount of beer.


[sup]1[/sup]Randal Sprecher felt, quite rightly, that 12 oz was insufficent for a single glass and 24 oz (two standard longnecks) was too much, so he selected the pint, pretty standard (or close to it) in Germany where he’d been stationed in the Army, as the most appropriate size.

For what it’s worth, beer in Mexico is sold in six packs. Hell, they’re even called “six,” “sixes,” or “six packs,” like that, in English. Even in places where you don’t see a lot of English-speaking customers. The average house and kitchen and fridge in Mexico is a lot smaller than their US counterparts, more on par with Europe. Okay, the average middle-class and up is like in the US, but average is whole average.

After the six pack, well, they have something like a case, but that’s only 20 beers for some reason, and I’ve only seen these for bottles. Other than that, it’s multiples of 6-packs when you want more. I’ve also not seen different pricing per quantity. Back home, a 12 of Labatt costs $10, and a case cost $17. Here, 2-sixes of Modelo Especial cost MX$100, and 4-sixes cost $200 – interesting that in a poor economy the beer actually costs more. (well, if you don’t mind returnable bottles, you can get better beer [Negra Modelo] for less price).

I’ve seen 4 packs of 12 oz. bottles, though mostly bigger ABV beers (DogfishHead does this, for beers like their 9% 90 Min IPA). I think it generally adds the appearance of distinction, mostly because people are used to seeing the Sammy Smiths and Guinness in 4 packs, plus they can keep the pricing in line with 6-packs of smaller beers (a 6-pack of 90 Min would probably be around $12, so they sell 4 of them at 8 instead).

As for why there are 4 packs and 6 packs…well, I have no idea!! It’s the same as the 330 mL bottle…just something that happened, I guess.

330ml ((11.2 oz) is approximately half of a 750ml bottle, which is standard for many meads and Belgian ales, like Chimay, Duvel, and Duinen. A lot of these breweries offer half-size versions for those of us who don’t need to down an entire 750ml bottle in one sitting, and then it became a defacto standard, I guess, as some (Carlsberg Elephant comes to mind) only offer 330ml bottles.


…because Kenny Rogers refused to make a movie called"Four Pack". :wink:

Beer in the UK is often sold in much larger cans (500ml) vs 335ml in the US.

Some American beers used to come in 8 packs. As a student, I used to buy Stroh’s that way - Stroh’s was reasonably drinkable for a cheap beer, and you got two extra bottles per pack.

I’ll take this one for the team.

I feel compelled to mention that one of my great-uncles was a brewmeister for Stroh’s lo these many years ago.

I’m sorry.

Interesting enough, Stroh’s now comes in a 30-pack case while everything else is a normal, 24-pack case. And it’s a buck or two less. So it seems that the fine tradition carries on.

FWIW, as American swillwater goes, Stroh’s isn’t half bad. But maybe that’s just the Detroit region coming out of me (yeah, yeah, it’s not from Detroit any more).

Maybe your great-uncle told you what in heck “fire-brewed” was supposed to mean?