The Pittsburgh Brewing Co is to launch new aluminum bottles for its Iron City beer.

The new Iron City aluminum beer bottles are expected to achieve success through their prolonged beer-cooling properties and unbreakable design. However, the higher price charged for these beers means that the majority of sales will come from image-conscious rather than practical-minded consumers.

Iron City has been the signature beer of the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. (PBC) since 1861, and the company sells approximately 6m cases of beer annually. To produce the new aluminum Iron City beer bottles, PBC has teamed up with Alcoa, the world's largest aluminum maker. This is not the first time that the two companies have partnered to produce new packaging innovations: in 1962 they developed the first pull-top aluminum can together.

Several other brewers have already trialed the aluminum bottle format. Heineken released a limited edition aluminum bottle in 2003 and several Japanese brewers have successfully launched the new packaging. However, the new Iron City design will be the first beer to be introduced nationally in an aluminum bottle in North America.

In describing the new aluminum format, Joseph Piccirilli, vice chairman of PBC, stated that "the product is unbreakable and the beer stays colder longer - up to 50 minutes versus glass containers".

The bottles are able to stay cooler longer because they have three times the aluminum of a typical beer can which helps insulate them. However, the extra thickness comes at extra cost. The aluminum bottles cost PBC twice as much as glass and, in return for a beer that stays colder longer, PBC is asking consumers to pay an additional $1 per 24-pack case.

PBC is convinced that once consumers try the new aluminum bottles, they will be persuaded of its advantages and be willing to pay the extra cost.

Yet while its insulated design and unbreakable quality will no doubt attract some consumers, those most willing to pay out extra for the product will be consumers interested in image and appearance, whom the new bottle's sleek silver-metallic look is likely to attract.