I have made a fine show of what the collection looks like at it’s best.
However… the reality is that all the wall space is completely taken and there are a good 60 cases of bottles and cans that won’t fit any more. The collection has grown to over 3000 containers and looks something like this…
This is not what I want for the collection. But, I simply don’t have the space to keep it all to myself anymore. I’m looking for someplace to display the collection. Preferably a brewery, brewpub, or bar that is in need of something that will look fantastic on their walls. Are you such a place? Please let me know so we can discuss how/when we could arrange such a display transfer.
The more bottles and cans I add, the harder it is to hit numbers that allow for a better description (such as 1000 bottles or 500 breweries). In my latest cataloging session I hit two of these within a few beers!
The collection has grown to staggering proportions. I have gone far past filling the shelves in my office to a point where I literally sit surrounded by cases of empty bottles and cans. I’m either going to have to suck it up and pay for off site storage somewhere, or find a brewery somewhere that needs a display idea (and a ton of room).
Here is where the collection stats stand at the moment.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to remember that I started this blog to talk about the bottle and can collection. Every time I travel, I try to hit up new breweries. But, I also try to bring back as many bottles and cans as I can in the process. Another challenge I tend to face is the cost of specialty beer. I often want that really interesting bomber or the specially packaged version of whatever, and just can’t justify paying tons of money for it when I could easily add 6, 12, or even 24 other beers (depending on the price of the cool thing) for the same price.
I was visiting friends in Maryland on my last trip and they were nice enough to go out of their way to take me to a cool bottle shop called State Line Liquors on the border of Maryland and Delaware.
I really, really hesitantly looked at the price on the tin, expecting a big disappointment. Turns out the whole kit was 20 bucks. For what I was included and how well it will look on my shelves, I simply wasn’t able to pass it up. Score another one for the bottle and can collection! Sometimes you just get lucky.
OK. So, I know I geek out every time I hit another number mark in my collection. But, this time is extra special. I hit the 2,000 bottles and cans benchmark. For the first time, I can legitimately say I have “thousands of bottles and cans”. This is a huge step up from saying “more than…” or “nearly…”. “Thousands” just seems to roll off the tongue so much easier. And, I’m hoping, is more impressive.
So, what tipped my over the 2,000 mark? It was Mastiff Oatmeal Stout from Railhouse Brewery in North Carolina. I’m on vacation with my extended family in Emerald Isle, North Carolina and (of course) had to stock up on North Carolina beers. I wish there was more of a story to tell here, but that’s about it. Here is where the current numbers stand for the whole collection:
Repeats (e.g., Orange Blossom Pilsner in a bottle and in a can)
Size Difference (e.g., Heineken in a 22 oz bottle and in a 12 oz bottle)
Still to drink (I purchased the beer, but have not yet consumed it)
Unique Beers (Not a repeat or a size difference)
Classic Cans (cans from a 1970’s collection that once belonged to my brother)
I have a very special container review today. This can of Pompous Ass English Ale from Great Lakes Brewery in Toronto marks 600 different breweries in my collection! Personally, I think that’s more impressive and telling than that there are over 1700 bottles and cans. So, without further ado…
Name: Love it! Humorous, descriptive, unique. A+
Art work: The art work definitely matched the name. I think the color scheme was even chosen well for what they were going for. Again, well done.
Beer description: Quite the detailed description. Lacks a little of the humor that got started with the title.
Just the facts: ABV, serving temperature, where to find them on social media, and even a name “Fuggled Doublebottom” for the Pompous Ass himself. Not too shabby
Pop top: Nothing going on here. Standard.
Label quality: All is well. No dents, dings, or creases.
That’s it! Every shelf in the office is full! From here I can either fill in the window with shelving (not sure how smart it is to put a bunch of glass bottles in a window when you live in a place that’s prone to tropical storms and/or hurricanes) or start putting shelving on the ceiling. I really want to go towards the ceiling. But see this post to get an idea of the challenges I face on that front.
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.
And minor things like holes on the inside material were tolerable for quite a while.
But, I had to draw the line when the corners started pulling 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.
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.
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.
Sometimes in life you have to say “stop, stop, stop… enough it too much!” Am I talking about collecting in general? No such luck (sorry Mrs. UsedHair). Rather, I’m talking about the constant arranging and rearranging of the bottles so that I can keep everything grouped together by specific breweries. Lets look at an example.
When I came across my first bottle of Fat Tire, New Belgium did not distribute to Florida. The single bottle was a cool and unique find. Then, in 2013, they started distributing here and even came out with some nice commemorative bottles to mark the occasion.
Then they started releasing more 22 oz (bomber) bottles.
And then they released a bunch of regular sized bottles.
This is all well and good. And I really like adding new bottles to the collection. But, they keep adding more and more new bottles.
I like to keep all my bottles organized by brewery. So, every time I want to add in these new bottles I have to shift tons of other bottles around on my shelving to make room. If it was only one brewery (like this example) it wouldn’t be a huge deal. But, with the number of breweries I deal with (532 at last count) it can turn into a nightmare that looks a little like this.
I can’t begin to tell you the number of times that Mrs. UsedHair comes into the office to find me staring at the walls just searching and searching for a bottle that I need to move somewhere and just can’t find. It’s maddening!
So, I have decided that enough is too much. I will no longer move hundreds of bottles just to try and keep everything together by brewery. Rather I am going to add bottles in as space allows and start logging bottle location by wall and shelf. For example, the wall by my desk is wall 1. The third shelf down on the wall by my desk will be wall 1 shelf 3. It’s not a perfect locating system, but it should help immensely. Tracking things like this and giving up on rearranging should reduce not only the time that I spend shuffling bottles around, but also the amount of time that I spend standing around trying to figure out just where the hell individual bottles are hiding on my walls. I will be free, dammit! And, as Mrs. UsedHair so wisely pointed out, the only person likely to care (in the long run) is me.
With a little help from my friends indeed. I was so frustrated by my last attempt at putting up shelving that a friend (who actually knows how to do stuff like this) offered to bring over his hammer drill and watch over me as I drill in potentially dangerous areas of my wall. Oddly enough the real danger wasn’t in where I was drilling, but rather how I was drilling. As it turns out, using a hammer drill on a wall with several hundred beer bottles results in bottles dancing all over the place and threatening to leap to their deaths. This slowed things down a bit as I had to find a temporary place for all the bottles that were already on the shelves.
One thing I actually planned out well was that the display really needed something besides beer bottles to break up the vast sea of sameness. Thus, I built a tiki idol into the shelving. I think it will really add to the look.
We managed to fill every available inch of wall space with large, and sometimes very small, shelving.
With only one trip to the hardware store to get more brackets and no bleeding, this almost didn’t really count as a project. But, I’m going to count it due to the effort we had to put into haphazardly routing out a divot in one shelf to avoid an old defunct cable outlet in the wall.
So, mission shelving is now complete!
As an added bonus, here is a link to a 360 degree panoramic image of the display, half empty, as it currently stands. The next bit of fun will be filling it all up. I still have way more bottles than shelves.