To some of you, this may just look like trash piling up in my room. I swear I am not a hoarder. Rather, these bottles are part of a collection that I recently started back in New Jersey and have decided to continue out here in Seattle.
My collection for beer bottles is a recent thing I started back in July. Since my time spent in Brussels, I have grown an amazing appreciation for beer; Specifically, craft beer. It’s rather funny that this has become such a passion of mine, because prior to my junior year of college, I hated beer. And I mean hated. I was the one who wouldn’t touch even a light beer because I couldn’t stand the taste. I can trace my repulsion back to a party at my friend’s house early on in High School where I drank too much Coors light and, well, you know how those stories usually end.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP
So here I am today, a changed man. I have fallen in love with not only the taste of the beer, the scent of its hops, and the appropriate glassware, but also the beer culture. America is looked at as the little brother of beer when compared to national powerhouses like Belgium, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Where America may fall short with their giant corporations producing shitty products like Budweiser and Coors, we make up for in our craft beer culture. Some of the best beers I have ever had are made right here in the good ole’ USA, and prominent beer sites like Beeradvocate would back that up. The current #1 ranking for beer that is actually obtainable is Pliny the Younger, made in California. Of course, it is followed closely by what may be the holy grail of all beers, Westvleteren 12, but there are plenty of great American beers on the list.
Getting back to my collection story, I had been drinking and trying all different kinds of craft beers ever since my return from Brussels. Thanks to my two beer aficionados, Corey and Will, I was pointed in the right direction and had good people to discuss beer with. They opened the community aspect of beer to me, telling me which websites to read, who to talk to, and what to try. After piling up numerous amounts of new beers tried, I decided to download and use an application for my iPhone called Untappd. Untappd is a simple application where you can not only track the beers you had but also see which beers your friends have tried. If anyone wants to take a glance of my collection of which I recently broke 100 unique beers tried (dating back to July), feel free to add me. My username is dankrutgers. I have been using the mobile platform to keep track of my beers for quite some time, but I wanted something more tangible.
I had fallen in love with the artwork on the bottles so I decided to save bottles that had significance to me. Starting with my trip down to visit my sister with my girlfriend, I stopped at my local beer store to pick up something nice for my friend Graham who was hosting us for the night. I stopped in and picked out the Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale, a beer that is more a novelty than something tasty, but I had never seen it before on the east coast. I also noticed that they had a sign indicating they were selling Stone’s Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA, a beer that is limited. With none left on the shelf, I asked the beer guy if there were any in the back. He came out with one bottle, but told me it was the one saved for him. He ended up saying he wasn’t going to drink it and sold it me. Beer Karma right there. So I bought the beer, got down to D.C. where my friend Graham lived, and drank the beer with Graham. I felt compelled to save the two bottles, as they were not only cool looking but also had importance to me.
From then on, I have been saving bottles of particular interest to me, whether they represent some of the best beers I have tried, are hard to find, or just have a really cool design. Between Untappd and my collection, I enjoy being able to look back and remember a beer. It is almost like a trophy case of beers I have tasted. I can’t see myself winning any trophies anytime soon, so for the mean time, this will have to do.
The beers I am particularly proud of here are the Stone Vertical Epic 08.08.08. This beer was bottled on August 8th, 2008, and was intended to be drank on December 12, 2012 (12.12.12), meaning this bottle has been sitting at the store for 4 years, aging to perfection. I couldn’t quite wait, but this vintage beer was delicious even if it was a few months early.
I am also very proud of two of the smaller bottles that are from Russian River, the same brewery that makes the number one beer on Beeradvocate. Though I have not tried Pliny the Younger, because it is only available on tap, I have tried Pliny the Elder, which deserves just as much credit as a top quality beer. These two bottles, Damnation and Redemption, are both very enjoyable beers that I would never have found on the east coast due to distribution. They are still rather hard to find out here on the West Coast, and many beer fans would be quick to snatch up some Russian River beers when they have the chance to try them.
My collection is starting small, but I plan to grow it throughout the year. This may not be the most economical collection, but at least it serves two purposes, it looks cool, and I enjoy drinking the beer. Starting a collection is a fun way to inspire yourself to do something and also give you a focus. I will keep you updated as my collection grows in size, thanks to local beer stores like Bottleworks, but if anyone (going out on a limb here) wants to send me some nice bottles of beer, I will more than gladly supply you with my address. And for all you Untappd users, feel free to add me as a friend.
I’ll end with a quote from one of my favorite musicians, Frank Zappa: “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.”