Container Review – White Lightning

Today we are looking at Full Pint Brewing Company – White Lightning – Belgian-style white ale brewed with spices.

Full Pint Brewing Company – White Lightning

Name: Something more than simply listing the company name and style of beer. But could have more oomph.

Art work: Nice painting. I assume there is a back story to this art that I wish they were sharing with the rest of us.

Label quality: The label is mostly straight (you can see in the description picture below that it’s not perfect), not peeling away, and made from moisture tolerant paper so it doesn’t get ruined from condensation (or sitting in an ice bucket).

Bottle neck label: No bottle neck label.

White Lightning description

Beer description: Very detailed and a hint of humor with “shockingly refreshing”.

Just the facts: ABV, O.G. They even specify the malts and hops used.

Full Pint beer cap

Bottle cap: Full print bottle cap. Classy.

Brewery-what-now?

Somewhere in my years of collecting I found a nice self descriptive term in the words labeorphile or labeorphillist, one who collects beer bottle labels or beer bottles.  However, I don’t collect only bottles.  I also collect cans, and pint glasses, and coasters, and stickers, and t-shirts, and hats, and anything I can get my hands on related to beer.  Thus, I was pretty excited when I was in West Virginia and someone showed me a magazine directed at collectors of beer cans and “other brewery collectibles”.

Beer Cans and Brewery Collectibles magazine

At the time, I vowed to fine out more about the people and/or organization behind this magazine.  Well, mission accomplished.  The magazine is put out by the Brewery Collectibles Club of America (BCCA).  For the low, low price of $40, I received a backlog of the magazines, a year’s worth of new issues of the magazine, a certificate, a roster and resource guide, and a bunch of random breweriana.

Breweriana

Brewery-whats-a-whos-it? Yup.  I found yet another word for what it is that I do.  Breweriana refers to the collecting of anything containing a brewery name or brand.  This includes my pint glasses and coasters and stickers and all of the other fun.  The BCCA seems primarily focused on cans. But there is enough focus on other aspects of beer collecting that it keeps my interest in general.  It’s always good to find that there are others out there that have the same interest.  And now I have a mission to someday get to Canvention.  I won’t make it to Portland by August.  But, we’ll see where it lands next year.

I’ve already had interesting talks with one of the members about a beer can database that the BCCA maintains and such interesting topics as whether to open beer cans from the top (as you would any other can) or if you should go old school and puncture holes in the bottom of the can so that the pop-top stays pristine.

As I continue to figure out what I and the BCCA can do for each other, I will (of course) let everyone know.

Container Review – Parallel 49, Tricycle

I’m starting a new feature today. My goal is to write less words more often. There are plenty of sites that do a beer tasting of the day. But I don’t know of any that critique the containers themselves. I don’t have a lot of talent when it comes to describing the mouth feel or the subtleties of the aroma of a beer. But, I have some definite opinions on what the bottle or can looks like.

Let’s start with one I picked up today. This is the can for Parallel 49 – Tricycle Grapefruit Radler.

Parallel 49 – Tricycle
 Art work: There is quite a bit of detail going on here. I really dig the styling. They get an A here.
Label quality: The label is painted on properly.  No plastic wrap on this one.
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Beer description: A detailed description of the beer and some humor added in to boot.  Another A.
Just the facts: ABV and IBU provided.  Boxes checked.
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Pop top: A little extra flair with a colored pop top.  Nice touch.

Last tango in San Diego – Part 2

The show so far… Last week I regaled you younglings with the “Tale of the Early Work Day” in which work ended with plenty of time to hit breweries in San Diego. The first that I and one of my co-workers went to was Bolt Brewery. When we finished with them we had to figure out where to go next. It was nearing the dreaded hour of 5 of the clock. In any major city, that can only mean one thing… Rush hour!  We needed to find someplace close by and avoid the infamous California highways at all costs.

We asked the bartender at Bolt about places she knew.  She confirmed that all of the other breweries in the neighborhood were ones that I we had already been to. Damn! I checked Google maps and found a place close by that should fit the bill. But it required highway travel. Double damn! Looking closer, I noticed that even considering rush hour traffic, the place we wanted to go was only a 10 minute drive. We were pretty sure we could handle 10 minutes of traffic to get to another brewery.  The reputations of the California highways was not enough of a barrier.  We could take this on.

And we were right. Traffic was not nearly as bad as we thought it would be. Feeling let down by the reputation of the highways, yet triumphant at having arrived, we arrived at… a set of empty store fronts. Well, this isn’t good.  Google maps is usually pretty good at telling me when a place has been closed down.  The hunt was on.

We walked past a homeless person that was taking up as much of the sidewalk as possible, and we were quite careful to not bother them. We tried following the numbers of the store fronts towards #1132.  But they ended as we rounded the corner and took up a new and perplexing numbering scheme.  We went back the other way, skirting the same sprawling homeless person, and peeked around the other corner. The numbers there were progressing in the wrong direction.  But we did get to see an archway announcing the district we seemed to have stumbled into.

Barrio Logan archway

So, we were apparently in Barrio Logan. Good to know, but not all that helpful in finding the brewery. It was time to use a phone a friend. I got someone from the brewery on the phone and they repeated the address we were already looking for. Hmmmm.  Then she said that you could see the Barrio Logan sign from the front door. That’s when it dawned on us that the building we were at might have store fronts on the other side of the block. Yes kids, I am oblivious at times.

Thus, we eventually found our way to Iron Fist Brewing Co.

Iron Fist Brewing Co.
Iron Fist Brewing sign

They have a cool, wide open, warehouse feel inside with super high ceilings and the bar shoved off into a corner.

Inside Iron Fist Brewing Co.

In case anyone cares, the guy at the bar with the black shirt and shorts is not only my copilot on this trip, he’s also the fantastic human being that designed the UsedHair’s Used Bottles logo at the top of the page as well as the business cards and coasters for the blog.  Thanks Dave!

Back to Iron Fist, I really enjoyed the lighting system in the bar. It was quite classy.  And the amount of beers with super high ABVs (as seen in the picture below) made my day (and made me hand the car keys over to Dave who was drinking more responsibly).

Flight on bar with embedded lighting

Finally, they have something no other bar in San Diego seemed to be able to offer me on this trip. They have bottles!  Not just growlers. Actual bottles in regular sizes that easily fit on my shelves and in my budget. Life is getting good now.

Iron Fist Brewing Co. bottles

The bottle on the left is a collaboration with a home brewer named Ken Scmidt. It is a Chocolate Mint Stout and you have no idea how much I’m looking forward to trying it.

In the long run, we had to earn getting to the second to last brewery on our last day in San Diego.  But, it turned out to be a huge win. And there was still one more cool tidbit literally waiting around the corner. We walked the opposite way around the building to get back to our car. There, under the Coronado Bridge, was what turned out to be the largest collection of Chicano Art Murals in the country.

Coronado Bridge murals
Coronado Bridge murals – Annie get your gun?
Coronado Bridge murals – Watership Down?

The murals were a fantastic diversion that really helped to make the day. But, we were on a mission. We had to get back to the hotel and pick up a third coworker so that we could all go out to dinner at the final brewery of the trip. I’ll fill you in on that one in part 3 of the series. Same bat time… Same bat station.

Out with the old, in with the new

Gather ’round chitlins. It’s time for an ancient history lesson. One year, for reasons that I am still not able to fathom, I decided to see what kind of awesome deals I could find if I dragged my ass out of bed in the wee hours of the morning and fought the crowds on… duh, duh, duh… Black Friday.

The one really fantastic deal I got that day was an entire set of luggage for $20. Even back in those days, that was quite the bargain.

I remain proud of that purchase (as evidenced by the fact that I’m still telling tales about in true grandfather fashion). But, I travel a lot. Seriously, a lot. moving back to the current time period, the checked bag from that set is starting to deteriorate. I dealt with the little things, like the broken zipper for a few years.

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Broken zipper on old luggage

And minor things like holes on the inside material were tolerable for quite a while.

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Hole on inside lining of old luggage

But, I had to draw the line when the corners started pulling apart.

Checked bag falling apart

This corner is worse even than it looks in the picture.  It’s about to start leaking things out of the bag.  That would put the beer at risk.  And I can’t have that.

This may come as a shock to some.  But, I’m a bit of a hoarder.  Not that anyone can tell from the 1,600 plus bottles and cans lying around.  Or, the beer caps, or the beer coasters, or the stickers, or even the Star Wars collection.  However, there comes a time that even someone like me has to break down and replace something.  It was time for a new bag.

I have a lot of people recommending to me that I get a hard case to better protect the beer.  It’s not like I’ve lost many across the years that I’ve been collecting.  Only one so far if anyone wants to keep track.  But, well, mission accomplished.  I caved in and got a hard case bag.

New hard case luggage

However, I have to stress an argument that I’ve maintained for quite some time.  What most people think of as a hard case is not like the luggage you used to see in the gorilla commercials.  They have a very thin shell that bends at the slightest touch.


I’m not sure how well this bag will protect my beer in the long run.  But I’ve made my choice, and I’m going to stick with it.  The bag has already proven itself worthy in a trip to San Diego where I managed to weasel my way into getting 2 checked bags.  The next step is to see how many beer stickers I can get to adhere to the thing.

New luggage covered with beer stickers

All of the ridges in the hard case aren’t helping anything.  But, I’ll keep adding to it as I go.  And, of course, I’ll let you all know how it holds up on my future travels.

Last tango in San Diego – Part 1

Work finished early on my last day in San Diego. So I had plenty of time for one last run at breweries. Rather than try and squeeze three brewery visits into one post, I’ll split the day up with one post for each brewery. Let’s give these places our full attention for a while. I think they deserve it.

First up was Bolt Brewery.

Bolt Brewery

We passed Bolt all week long on our daily commute to the work site, so it was calling to me all week long. It was good to finally get there for real.  Before even looking at food, I worked my way into a flight.

Bolt Brewery flight

The selection was broad enough that I wasn’t limited to pale ales, IPAs, and Hefeweizens. I was able to get a Belgian dubbel, Belgian tripel, a double Irish red, and a nitro stout. I can definitely get into the kind of brewery that makes a full blown interesting lineup.

The tap room had a good laid back vibe about it. And the bar tender was easy to talk to. I asked about growlers and was not at all surprises to find they didn’t have them. If I hadn’t obtained King Bottle on my last trip to San Diego, I would begin to think they are illegal in California.  So, no bottle from Bolt for my collection. However, I did see an interesting item on one of the pint glasses.

Bolt Brewery pint glass with cover
Bolt Brewery pint glass with cover

The black disk in these pictures is a pretty substantial (maybe ceramic?) cover for pint glasses.  The bar tender explained to me that they are so you can enjoy your beer outside and not have to worry about bugs or debris falling into your pint.  I’m not a very outdoorsy kind of guy, so this particular scenario is not one I typically face.  But, I am all about interesting new beer products.  Once it was shown to me, I told the bar tender to just go ahead and leave it right in front of me.  There was no way I was walking out of there without this cool new beer toy.

I did convince them to take some of my coasters before I left.  But, then I was off to another brewery.  Where did I go after Bolt?  See if you can figure it out based on this picture from under a bridge next door.

Bridge art in San Diego

Three strikes, but I’m not out yet

It’s the first day on my big trip to San Diego. All I had to do was get here. The rest of the day is free to explore (breweries). So, I check my well researched list and head out to Monkey Paw brewing.

Monkey Paw Brewing sign

It’s a great place with a corner bar feel to it. They have a ton of beer selections and I get Juli’s Bizaro, a Belgian dark ale with carrot cake spices. It’s fantastic! As I drink, I enjoy the plethora of monkey decorations.

Monkey Paw Brewing monkey decorations

They even have an a monkey flipping you the bird.

Bird flipping monkey

Very nice. But, as always, it’s all about the bottles. I see growlers listed on the chalk board and ask about them. They only fill growlers from the brewery itself… on Sundays. I’m leaving Friday morning.  So, strike one. The first brewery I visit is awesome. But no bottles. To add insult to injury, I forgot my coasters at the hotel so I couldn’t drop any there. Son of a…

Alright, next up at bat. I head to a beer store super close by that had great reviews. I don’t like to post negative things about anyone in particular (I like to leave my grumblings anonymous), so I won’t list the name of the store. I walk in and see shelves stocked with plenty of single bottles. Great! This should be easy. Then I start looking through the bottles and notice that it’s mostly bombers (22 oz beers) and the least expensive bottle in the whole store was in the $7 range. How am I supposed to fill a suitcase with $7-$20 beer bottles?  Damn it! Strike two.

So, I move on to dinner and hit a place close by with the broadest food menu. The Beer Company does not disappoint.

Beer Company in San Diego

I get some fantastic food and their Tijuana Trolley Red. Despite the lack of bottles so far, I’m having great luck with the breweries themselves. So, I ask about a growler. They don’t do growlers. Gaaaaaaaaah!  That’s strike three. I might as well call it a day. Right?

But, I rarely give up that easily. I remembered my coasters this time and ask to talk to the manager. I’m worried because I only see Beer Company coasters being given out and this could be a “closed shop” that only uses their own coasters.  However, Sergio (the manager) starts talking to me and turns out to be an awesome guy who is genuinely interested in the bottle collection and the blog. He was more than happy to take the coasters and he brought me over to taste some of the upcoming beers right from the fermenters.

Beer Company fermenting beer

How cool is that?! So, in the end, I technically struck out for the day (as far as bottles go). But, I still had a great day, drank some awesome beer, and met some fantastic people. In addition, this is only the first day of a four day visit. I still have plenty of time to hit a home run in this game.

I must break you

I don’t have to (or want to) break bottles. Rather it’s records that I need to break. The last record I broke was bringing back 24 bottles and cans from West Virginia in a single checked bag. I mentioned at the time that the bag still had room and weight to spare.

So, on my recent trip to San Diego, I was all set to try and break that record. Well, circumstances worked out such that I was actually able to bring two checked bags on this trip. Holy contributing to the delinquency of minors Batman! That’s a lot of room. Now I just had to find a ton of bottles and cans that I could afford. The goal here is to get singles of regular sized (e.g., 12 or 16 oz) beer that isn’t a special release or expensive for some other reason.

The first store I found in San Diego had quite the expensive selection and I passed on it. The next day I tried Bottlecraft Beer in North Park.

Bottlecraft Beer North Park

The first thing I saw was a similar display of single bottles both warm and cold, with some up front that looked pretty expensive.

Bottlecraft singles display

I figured I would either do really bad or really good here.  Upon closer inspection I could see $1.99 and $2.59 bottle and cans scattered throughout.  So I told the person behind the counter that my goal was 2 cases in cheap single bottles and he started handing me boxes.  It probably took me at least half an hour.  But, I scoured the shelves and coolers.  I was specifically looking to get out of there with California beers.  Hopefully, from breweries that I didn’t already have in my collection.  When we tallied everything up, it came to 46.  I was just a little short.  So, I grabbed 2 bottles and 1 can from Evil Twin Brewing.  They are from Brooklyn, NY.  But I didn’t have any beer from them yet.  So, I was still calling it a win.  This is getting exciting now.  I have 49 beers from 25 different breweries and 21 of those breweries are new.  This is a huge score.

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49 bottles and cans from 25 breweries

Happy with my conquest, I go about the rest of my trip.  On the last night I stop into another brewery that I will talk about in my next post.  Despite having a lot of difficulty getting bottles directly from breweries on this trip, I manage to get 3 more bottles there.  So, now I’m up to 52 bottles and cans!  I’ve never tried anything like this before.  I pack with my patented “barely give a shit” method of rolling beers in clothing and manage to get 26 beers in each checked bag.  As usual, they all made it home unharmed.  So, in case anyone is keeping track, the new record is 52 beers in a single flight with 26 beers in a single checked bag.  The bags weighed 46 and 47 lbs.  Thus, I feel like I might still push this one even further. Only time will tell.

Breweries or bars? Can’t it be both?

The work day and/or week is over… Excelsior! Time to meet friends and/or family for Miller Time. Should I recommend we all meet up at a new and exciting brewery somewhere or the old faithful bar?  Keeping in mind that my goal is always to add more bottles to the collection, the choice is not always as easy as you might think.

I love going to new breweries. And, I have certainly written about plenty of them. The problem here is that they can be a bit of a one trick pony as far as the collection goes. Once I have a growler or whatever cans/bottles they have from their brewery, there is little reason to go back again. These are great when I’m traveling to new areas or a new one opens up near me. But, today I want to extol the virtues of visiting your local bar. At least if it’s as good as mine.

I’m a geek at heart. So, of course, my favorite bar is tucked in the back of a comic shop. More specifically, in the back of A Comic Shop in Winter Park, FL.

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A Comic Shop in Winter Park, FL

The bar itself is called The Geek Easy and it is decorated with tons of geeky goodness from the Han Solo encased in carbonite by the taps to the comics embedded in the bar counter top to the geeky silhouettes on the walls.

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The Geek Easy in Winter Park, FL
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Comics embedded in bar top at the Geek Easy

There is a lot to love at a place like this.  In particular, Mrs. UsedHair and I enjoy getting together with a group called Booze and Boards to play board games and drink with friends (the group name really doesn’t particularly hide what it is we do) on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

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Booze and Boards group at the Geek Easy

That’s all well and good.  But, let’s keep the prime directive in mind.  I want to add bottles to my collection.  Mission accomplished at the Geek Easy.  They do a really good job of constantly getting in a new selection of beer and I almost always seem to get at least one new bottle or can every time I go there.

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Impressive beer list at the Geek Easy

So, when Miller Time rolls around, do I look for a brewery or a bar?  The answer is really both.  It depends on where I am and what I want to do that day.  I think the real point is to not overwhelm ourselves with trying to hit every brewery ever at the expense of finding a great go-to place for your every day wonderfulness.

No one rocks as hard as Mrs. UsedHair

No obscure quotes or links for the start of this post. Just a statement of fact. Mrs. UsedHair (Hedy) is the greatest! Apart from the obvious traits of being smart, sexy, and having a great sense of humor… here are some reasons why:

1. She supports my beer container collecting hobby.

I don’t mean she tolerates it. She supports it. I have talked to other people that have attempted to have container collections. More often than not I see people giving up on it because “my other half made me get rid of them” or “I’m not allowed to display them in the house” or some other such nonsense. Hedy goes beyond “letting me display things in the house”. She actually makes me decorations that add to the display.

Office sign created by Mrs. UsedHair
Beer office decor created by Mrs. UsedHair
Giant bottle cap created by Mrs. UsedHair
Beer cap sign created by Mrs. UsedHair

2. She likes to go to breweries and beer festivals.

Central Florida is a rapidly growing craft brewery market. There always seems to be a new brewery to visit in the area. Or when we travel to new beaches along the east coast, or when we travel anywhere for that matter. It’s very important to me that I don’t feel like I’m dragging someone along when I explore a new brewery. She really enjoys drinking beer and has really started to explore her tastes in craft beer. We explore new breweries and we have a great time doing it.

Mr. and Mrs. UsedHair at Tampa Bay Brewing
Mr. and Mrs. Usedhair outside Tampa Bay Brewing
Hat lady and Mrs. UsedHair at DeLand Craft Beer Festival
Mr. and Mrs. UsedHair at DeLand Craft Beer Festival

I could list a hundred more reasons. But we’d be here all day and ain’t nobody got time for that. It takes a village to make a blog. And I’ve definitely had help from a lot of villagers. But, trust me when I say this blog would not exist without Mrs. UsedHair. Let’s all thank her for being such a fantastic person!