As the Light Beer Wars were heating up in the mid-1970s, a family-run brewery in western New York called F.X. Matt — one of the nation’s oldest, and still running to this very day — came up with a wild new packaging format. It was bold. It was bizarre. It was… balls? That’s right. Big, translucent plastic spheres full of 5.16 gallons of Matt’s Premium Lager.

At the time, glass “stubby” bottles were still the industry standard when it came to beer vessels, and buying traditional kegs required the rigamarole of pre-ordering. The balls, though, were orbital, eye-catching, and ready-made to fuel a party at a moment’s notice. Plus, the American beer-drinking community always appreciates a good gimmick, and even more so if it’s a functioning one.

Part keg party, part party trick, F.X. Matt’s beer balls were all the rage in the ‘80s and soon drew competition from local rivals and national heavyweights alike. Joining “Taplines” today to talk about beer balls and so much more is fourth-generation Matt and the current president of the brewery that bears his family name, Fred Matt. Tune in for more.

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