Shelving Day Part 3

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.

Tiki idol in shelving

We managed to fill every available inch of wall space with large, and sometimes very small, shelving.

Adding tiny shelves

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.

Hacked routing

So, mission shelving is now complete!

Shelving installed

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.

360 Panoramic of Half Empty Shelving

Shelf Day Part 2

It’s not going so hot. In fact, it’s rally rough going so far.  In case anyone doesn’t already know this about me, I’m not a very handy kind of guy.  In my mad dash to prep all of the shelves before the rain on Friday, I discarded the wrong small piece of wood to fill this gap and had to find and then paint the right piece.

Gap filler shelf

Then I forgot to adjust the length of two pieces of wood that were going to meet in a corner and had to re-cut and repaint those pieces.

Next I fall victim to something that, admittedly, I brought on myself. Every time I sit on the ground, one of my dogs decides that it’s lap time. Very hard to work with a boxer sitting on you.

Boxerus interuptus

Always best to let him get it out of his system or he’ll hound me forever.

Now I’m ready to get down to the real task at hand. But, the problems aren’t over yet. I find the studs, mark everything up, and start putting screws in the wall. Standard procedure. But, this is an old house and I’m never quite sure what I’m going to find behind the walls. Could be plain wood, could be concrete, could be a mystery. This time I hit a mystery. The screws are going most of the way in and then breaking off.  Any idea what could be causing this?  It’s got me stumped.

Broken screw

Now I have to start improvising with the hardware I have available. I have anchors, but the screws they come with won’t lay flat (unacceptable for shelving.

Anchors with the wrong type of screws

So, I find some concrete screws that lay flat and fit in the anchors.  Not ideal, but it will work.

The wrong screws for the right job

So, I manged to get 1 filler shelf and 2 regular shelves up today.

Unimpressive start

Not a very impressive start. But, I’m going to keep at it.


Shelf Day Part 1

I need more shelving in my office. Just look at all the room I’ve got after clearing the room of pretty much anything unrelated to work or beer (because, really what else is there in life).  

Room for more shelving 1
Room for more shelving 2
That’s room for a lot of bottles, that is. I need to build some shelves, which requires sanding and sawing and panting. The problem is… It’s spring in Florida. For some crazy reason that means that Monday-Friday, while I’m at work, the skies are clear and the weather is beautiful. However, Saturday and Sunday every week is scheduled to have harsh and heavy rain. So, the combination of a Friday off and clear weather predicted until the afternoon has me on a race for time. I get my wood and tools ready to go.  

Wood and tools to build shelves

That’s a lot of sanding coming my way. And I hate sanding. Oh well. I set my Boxer Buddy on guard duty, because every one works on shelf day. 

Boxer Buddy on guard duty

And I get down to it. I worked from dawn until 3pm or so. Measuring, Sanding, sawing, painting. And I get it all done and cleaned up literally seconds before it starts raining.  

Prepared shelves 1

  I still have a lot to do. But the outdoor part is set and I can work the rest in the evenings and in the rain. Clear sailing from here until I figure out what I miss measured or miss cut. 

500 Breweries!

I could see coming up in the list of bottles that I was about to hit 500 breweries. so I did some planning to make sure I was at an actual brewery (not shopping in a store) when I bought a beer bottle that would put me over the top. 

I’m is San Diego and it’s Saint Patrick’s day. I could have looked for an Irish place. But I’m Scottish, not Irish. And, to be honest, I didn’t even realize it was Saint Patrick’s Day when I thought about where I should go. So I honed in on a brewery that might mean something to me on a more personal level. 

I studied auditory sensation and perception as well as research in graduate school. So, when I saw a brewery called Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment, I knew that had to be the place.  They did not disappoint.  

Acoustic Ales Entrance
Acoustic Ales Wood Sign

I walked in to find comfortable couches and a pair of old golden retrievers lazing about. Definitely my kind of place.  

Inside Acoustic Ales
I ordered the quadrupel because (aside from really liking quadrupels) I was digging the name “Westbound and Down” and sat around singing a Smokey and the Bandit song for a while. Then I got down to brass tacks. What bottle was I going to get. Not only were the choices awesome, but the prices were pretty damn good. A range of $6-$8 for each bomber (22 oz). So, there was only one option I could really take here. I got 4 bottles.  

Acoustic Ales Bottles
Say hello to the bottles from the 500th brewery in my collection. Can’t wait to drink them. 

1400 megatons worth, and you sure as hell won’t stop them now

The collection is growing fast. In fact, it just reached 1400 bottles and cans. Let’s all say hello to number 1400.

1400th Bottle
1400th Bottle

This impressive bottle is the Brooklyn Defender IPA. I’m not usually an IPA drinker. But, how can a guy so geeky that he finds a movie quote specifically about the number 1400 (look up the blog post title kids… Then watch that movie) pass up the official beer of New York Comic Con. I have to admit, it was pretty good. I can enjoy a citrus based hoppy beer like this one. Just keep the pine based ones to yourself (if you don’t mind).

To Collect or Not to Collect

I collect beer bottles.  That’s kind of my thing.  But, when you get into the nitty gritty of what that means, what gets collected and what does not?  Do I want to collect only bottles or should I include cans?  Do I only collect beers that I personally drank or should I collect any bottles?  Can a beer be bad enough to skip collecting?  Do home brews have a place in the collection?

In the long run, I can only answer these questions (for myself as much as anyone else) in a way that makes most sense for what I’m trying to accomplish with my collection.  In my collection, I’m telling the story of my life.  That is the driving force behind how I decide what to put in or not put in my collection.  For example, as I have previously mentioned, my collection contains 44 cans from the 1970s that were originally collected by my brother and that I later rescued/stole from the basement.  They are part of the collection because they were (at least indirectly) part of my story. The rest of the beer in my collection are ones that I personally drank because I want to show my story, not simply have a collection of bottles that don’t mean anything to me.

Case in point, I was at a Twin Peaks near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and scored a nice metal growler.


The servers offered to all sign the growler (probably looking to score a bigger tip).  My friend Mike tried to talk me out of it, arguing that the growler, in it’s purest form, is what should be in the collection.  At that time, Mike didn’t quite understand the point of the collection.  It isn’t about the value of the bottles.  It’s about telling the story.  This growler is telling the story of when I spent two weeks straight doing research at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for work and got to go and hang out with the staff one night.

What about bad/mediocre beers?  The Walmarts of brewing (e.g., Budweiser, Miller, Heineken) are great at putting out different bottles and cans of the same old products.


I could easily overrun the collection with these items.  Rather than avoiding them, I try to add items that are part of the story.  If I get a can or aluminum bottle at an amusement park or concert, it becomes part of the story.  The same thing goes for beer that is downright horrible.


I got these atrocities at a 7-Eleven outside of the Brevard Zoo.  I’m a sucker for new and unique things, so I gave them a shot.  They tasted like watered down kool aid.  But, they are part of the story.  So, they stay in the collection.

Last, but definitely not least, there are home brews.  I have had people share home brews with me and loved the beer.  Make no mistake, I am astoundingly grateful to those people and would like to keep receiving those beers.  However, the bottles were totally without labels and do not tell much of a story.  Therefore, they have not made it into the collection.  In contrast, my friend Billy makes home brews that are fantastic beer and he goes out of his way to create wonderful labels to go with them.


Billy, his family, and his beers are all a big part of my story.  Therefore, the beer has a prominent place in the collection.  If I receive more home brews that have descent looking labels, they would also become part of the collection.

I hope this sheds some light on how and why I collect bottles.  Did I miss anything?  If you have any questions on what I do or do not want to collect, ask in the comments section.  I’d be more than happy to answer any questions.

Let’s Meet The Hollowheads

So, in case anyone hasn’t noticed yet, I’m chock full of obscure references and I’m not afraid to use them (e.g., Meet The Hollowheads:

Lets take a glance at the collection itself.  I have a hard time pinpointing in my memory exactly when I started seriously collecting.  However, a trip to Toronto in 2005 and the gathering of bottles from Mill Street Brewery ( stands out as when I really started getting serious about it.  So, over the last 10 or so years I have collected roughly 1,300 bottles and cans.  I wish I could show a picture of them all.  However, one of the major challenges I will quickly start talking about is where to keep/display that many bottles and cans.  The dream is to have my office look more like this:

Bottle Wall 01
Full view of wall of bottles
Bottle Wall 05
Corner view of wall of bottles

However, the reality is that more often it looks like this:

State of the Office 01

I will discuss displaying issues more thoroughly in a separate post.  This is about the collection itself.  Let’s get some anticipated questions out of the way right off the bat:

Q: Is every bottle/can different?

A: No.  There are 1,257 unique beers in the collection.  If I have a bomber (22 oz beer) and a 12 ounce bottle of the same beer I don’t consider the second bottle to be a unique beer.  If I have a bottle and a can of the same beer, I don’t consider it to be a unique bottle.

Q: Did you drink every beer in the collection?

A: Almost.  There are 44 cans from the 1970s that my brother collected when he was a kid and that I stole in later years.  Other than that I drank (or at least tasted) each of the beers in my collection.

Q: Are you an alcoholic?

A: No.  1,300 bottles/cans over roughly 10 years is about 130 per year, 11 or so per month, or about 2-3 per week.  Definitely not an alcoholic.  I just try really hard to only drink beer when I can collect the bottle.

Q: How do you keep track of all those bottles?

A: I use an Excel sheet. Once I learn more about my blogging tools I hope to have a live link to the actual tracking information so that anyone can view live statistics and dive into the collection at will.  For now, here are the statistics I track:

Beers Added               1311

Repeats                        37

Size Difference          16

Still to drink               19

Cans                              204

Bottles                         1088

Unique Beers             1257

Breweries                   459

Classic Cans               44