Recently I was fortunate enough to go to Spain. Great trip, but I noticed that most of my beer bottles had weird rings around them. Then I noticed some distribution trucks picking up empty bottles of the beer from bars. After asking a local bartender I discovered these bottles were taken back to the brewery and reused. So I started wondering about returnable/refillable bottles in the states.
Turns out there is one place doing exactly this. But why aren’t there more? Economics, consumer perception, and consumer laziness are among the reasons. More folks are trying to bring back the practice though. I think its a pretty cool idea.
Also, the Brewer’s Almanac(xls) from beerinstitute.org has historical and current info on the subject. There’s a lot more to the almanac too, I suggest taking some time to read it.