Don’t adjust your eyes. Yes, those are small Rockmill Brewery bottles showing up in stores, bars and restaurants.
The Lancaster brewery, which specializes in Belgian-style farmhouse ales, has released a line of 375ml bottles complete with corks and cages just like the larger 750ml version. The new bottles simply look like they’ve been hit with a shrink ray.
Rockmill decided to offer the smaller bottles for a few reasons.
Some beer drinkers may have been scared off by the larger bottle or its higher price point, which can be more than $20. The 375ml bottles — don’t call them 12-ounce bottles, owner and brewer Matthew Barbee warns — also are more inviting for beer drinkers at bars and restaurants.
Barbee said it was important for the smaller bottles to have the same corks and cages as the larger ones.
“We’re trying to remain classically styled,” he said. “These farmhouse ales use cork and cage enclosures. The Trappist monks use cork and cage enclosures. We’re staying in line with that. It creates a ceremony around the experience, which is important to us. We wanted that to be maintained in the split format.”
Rockmill is able to offer the 375ml bottles because it just fired up a new 15-barrel brewhouse and invested in a bottling line that automatically corks the bottles. Before, the brewery was working with a two-barrel system and workers inserted the corks by hand — a labor intensive process.
The bottling line does a much better job and the corks can now be pulled out by hand, as opposed to having to use a wine key before, Barbee said.
In other Rockmill news, the brewery has released Saison Noir, a saison made with roasted barley. Barbee said it was the first time that he used roasted barley.
“I wasn’t quite sure what to think,” he said. “But I love how it turned out. Upfront, you get all this candy fruit from the yeast strain and following that you start to get what you’d expect from roasted barley. You get mild caramel, tobacco and intermittent coffee. It’s really delicious. For as rich as it is in flavor, it’s surprisingly sessionable. It’s 8 percent ABV but still really refreshing.”