It’s been an unusually hot summer in Germany, and Germans have reacted, ever logically, by consuming more beer than ever. The breweries ought to be thrilled, except for one small problem: Germans recycle their glass beer bottles and pay a small deposit on each one that they can get back when they return the bottles to the store. Seems like a sound system, right? Normally, yes, but this summer bottles are flying off the shelves faster than they’re being brought back in, creating a country-wide shortage.
Germany’s bottle shortage has been ongoing since mid-May. As NPR reports, there’s over four billion beer bottles in circulation in Germany, each of which can be refilled about 30 times, except there’s so many breweries in the country that four billion bottles still isn’t enough.
Some brewers are reluctant to share their bottles, since their beer is branded to a certain style of bottle. Those who are more desperate are sending their delivery men out to look for bottles on the street, and a few have made the gutsy choice to package their beer in cans instead of bottles, despite the country’s public sentiment that drinking beer out of a can is uncivilized and cheap-looking. As of now, only seven percent of the country’s beer is sold in cans.
Aesthetics aside, most Germans are convinced that canned beer is environmentally unfriendly, when in actuality 98 percent of the cans are recycled. Beer enthusiasts can get a deposit back on cans, just like they do with bottles, and if the current shortage in bottles continues, they may not have a choice if they want to beat the heat.