Get More Bang For Your Beer by Collecting It

by David Fox

121422B-1024x536 Get More Bang For Your Beer by Collecting ItAccoutrement…paraphernalia…stuff.  Call it what you want, but the best type of these to collect is of the free variety.  And so it can go with beer.  For those of us classified as beer enthusiasts, extending one’s love for beer to the collecting side of things can expand the experience and deepen the appreciation for beer culture.  Fortunately, your bottom line does not have to take the same hit your liver is taking to participate in that extenuation. 

Collecting ancillary beer items can be an enjoyable and inexpensive hobby that can make you feel like your drinking has a purpose.  “I’m not a drunk, I’m a collector!”  That’s what I tell myself anyway.  

Free is a lovely place to begin with any kind of collecting. 

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Coasters in America.  Beer mats in the UK.  Bierdeckle in Germany.  However you classify them, the practice of tegestology (which makes it sound so classy) can be a rewarding way to get in touch with your inner beer geek.  I have hundreds, and didn’t spend a dime for a single one.  And I don’t mean the used ones that have soaked up tons of beer, but the brand new ones out of the cellophane wrapper, stiff and pristine like a virgin at a nude beach. 

A good bartender won’t let a coaster sit for more than a customer or two (they breed bacteria like crazy as they soak up the suds) but I can speak from experience that any bartender worth a damn also won’t care if you go through their stash of coasters that are often found in the corners of bar lips.  They’re promotional and disposable, which equals free.  Trust me, they’ve seen weirder things, and they don’t care.  They’re used to customers arguing with them about which vodka has the fewest calories (they’re all about 97) and asking if a beer called Hop Devil is “hoppy” even though it’s in the damn name.  They won’t bat an eye at you rifling through a stack of coasters. 

There is a marketplace for them as well.

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Vintage coasters for the beers of yesteryear like Schmidt’s out of Philadelphia or Piel’s from Brooklyn can get ten to thirty dollars on beer coaster collecting sites. 

Don’t forget about bottle caps!

Any “Sesame Street” savant knows the three things Bert fancies the most are pigeons, paper clips, and bottle caps.  So, if it was good enough for pop culture’s most famous unibrowed party pooper, it’s good enough for me.  And while bottle caps are not as cost-effective as coasters (assuming you didn’t steal the beer) they can be a great way to celebrate the lifestyle. 

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You’ve already shelled out the money, might as well keep a souvenir which in some cases, are mini works of art in graphic design.  Have I bought a beer just because I wanted the cap?  Maybe.  Ok, yes, I definitely have, but it’s satisfying. 

The biggest collection of unique caps in the world is nearly 102,000, so we all have a long way to go. 

A word to the wise as far as keeping those mementos.  Stick to the bottle caps and avoid label collecting.  Their artwork is often mesmerizing but collecting them is a giant pain in the tuchus.  I had a friend that tried this and kept them in photo albums.  His kitchen looked like a laboratory of beer bottles soaking in buckets to loosen the glue in hopes that the label would come off at all without ripping.  Howard Hughes had fewer bottles laying around his house than this guy.  So save yourself the aggravation and stick with the caps.  There are plenty of devices on the market to get them off without damaging the cap and preserving its shape.  

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Other collectibles like stickers and glasses are generally reserved for breweries and can be inexpensive as well.  I say this because many give out stickers for free for your beer fridge or cooler, and those that don’t often may charge you only a buck.  I refuse to pay more than that, and if you strike up a good connection with your bartender they may throw one in for free anyway.  The pint-glass situation depends on your scruples. 

I have stolen more glasses than I care to admit so as to not incriminate myself, but it works.  Bars don’t care, breweries care more.  In fact, the brewery that I used to work at intentionally used blank pint glasses only because of people like me.  Once there’s a cool logo on it, it may walk.  So that’s your call.  I don’t know you, dearest reader, but you won’t get any static from me if you pilfer a glass or three.  

One last way of “collecting” in a way are beer apps. 

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Think of them as a running tally of your addiction.  I prefer Untappd and use it not only to log what I’ve had, but when and what I was experiencing at the time with the ability to add pictures. “Oh yeah, I did drink a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA when I saw Anthrax!” As of the writing of this blog, I am at 4,661 unique beer check-ins (find me on Untappd as SWICDAVE and follow the steady decline of my sobriety.) 

To me, it is virtual collecting, without having to understand NFTs and how to explain them to people without sounding like you’re part of a pyramid scheme.  When I log a new beer, I get the same sense of satisfaction that I do when I get a new action figure or collectible.  Plus, seeing other people’s collections (log-ins) immerses you deeper in the culture.  You’ve invested, so claim your conquest.

If you’re a beer geek, lean into it.

Sheryl Crow taught us that if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.  Of course, she also likes a good beer buzz early in the morning.  Now that I think about this, Sheryl Crow might have a drinking problem.  But I bet she has a killer bottle cap collection.

AAA-David-Fox-Blogger-Footer Get More Bang For Your Beer by Collecting It*Any perceived investment advice or product endorsement is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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