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Old English Ginger Beer | Excelsior Bottling Establishment | Calais, Maine and St. Stephen, New Brunswick
A late 19th century stoneware bottle for the Old English brand of ginger beer produced by the Excelsior Bottling Establishment of the neighboring border communities of Calais, Maine and St. Stephen, New Brunswick located on opposite sides of the St. Croix River. The bottle stands about seven inches tall and two and a half inches wide and likely dates to the 1880s. Excelsior was run by two Irish Canadians, F.H. Tyrill and W. J. Cummings. Ginger beer was popular during the 19th and the early 20th centuries. It is not truly a beer as beer involves the fermentation of a grain while ginger beer involves the fermentation of ginger and added sugar. Today's ginger beers are not alcoholic, but 19th century ginger beers were, particularly moreso before the mid-19th century. After brewing, ginger beer was poured into stoneware bottles that were wired and corked shut to maintain carbonation. Stoneware bottles were used instead of glass bottles as ginger beer was usually cloudy and unattractive in appearance. Before 1880, the stoneware bottles were plain, but beginning in the 1880s the bottles became sleeker with colorful shoulder slips and transfer printed designs. This bottle was made by Munderloh & Company of Montreal, Quebec. The bottle was part of a lot of six stoneware ginger beer bottles (the other five were Old Homestead ginger beer also of Calais and St. Stephen) acquired at Ebay auction. Photo caption: Stoneware bottle for the Old English brand of ginger beer produced by the Excelsior Bottling Establishment of Calais, Maine and St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Bottle dates to the 1880s.