As mobile bottlers allow more and more small breweries to sell there wares in retail outlets, the 22oz 'share bottle' has proliferated. Now in stores in Oregon it is not uncommon to see a selection of these bottles displayed in the refrigerated case.
But why 22oz bottles? Mobile bottlers can presumably just as easily handle 12oz bottles, and getting customers to buy a six-pack means you are selling 72oz of beer rather than 22.
I can think of a few reasons: shelf space is scarce in markets and it is probably easier to get retailers to stock 22oz bottles. Also, in the space of one six-pack, you could display three varieties. Finally, the amount of packaging is reduced - lowering costs.
But why do consumers buy them? They are a pretty bad deal. Last night I paid $3.39 for a bottle of Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (an amazing beer - in fact, probably my favorite Oregon beer and just one of Ninkasi's outstanding beers so I am delighted they are bottling). This translates to $11.09 for 72oz - a six-pack. Ouch. [But well worth it by the way] But the thing is most of us don't make these calculations in our head and a little over three bucks for a big bottle of beer seems like a reasonable deal. Also, there is a nice kind of pre-commitment to opening up a 22oz bottle I suppose: once it's opened you gotta finish it. Finally, many of these are 'big' beers and perhaps a six pack represents just a bit too much, plus making these big beers are more expensive, so charging $11 for a six-pack might be required should they go that route. As a consumer, I used to prefer the convenience of the 12oz bottle, but I am beginning to like the 22oz bottle more and more. Still it is a lot of beer for one person and my wife is not really a beer drinker so I wouldn't mind more sixers.
Anyway, 'tis the season not to worry about it and just enjoy. Cheers to the new year!