Tuesday, 19 June 2012

10 green bottles hanging on the wall...

...that's how the song goes. I wish it was as simple as 10. The fact of the matter is it's a lot, lot worse...

From day one of my journey on the craft beer bandwagon, I thought it might be nice to start a collection of beer bottles. I have absolutely no idea why. Like most hare-brained schemes - it seemed a good idea at the time.

It all started around August 2010 when a friend of the BPA (Beer Club), KR, gave me a mixed 6pack. Incidentally, it was this 6pack that started my love affair with Australian craft beer. For the record those 6 beers were: Endeavour 2010 Reserve Pale Ale, Knappstein Reserve, Mildura Murray Honey Wheat, Mountain Goat Steam Ale, Pepperjack Ale and lastly, Vale Ale Pale Ale. You'll find these, of course, in the list to the right hand side of this blog page.

Simply, once these 6 beers had been consumed, the bottle was rinsed a couple of times with water, the bottle top replaced and hey presto a clean, empty beer bottle to put on the shelf in the cupboard. Sadly, I've done this every time I've tried a new beer for the first time. At the time of writing, I have accumulated 215 different beer bottles - much to the dissatisfaction of my wife. Don't get me wrong, I can see it from her point of view especially as the collection has outgrown the original shelf and now takes up a heck of a lot more space. After approximately 50 bottles, I set myself a golden rule and that was 'Only bottles of beer consumed by me in my house can be included in the collection'. Obvious right? Wrong. I'd started contemplating keeping bottles from beer that I'd drink in pubs/bars! I even saw a mate drinking a beer in his yard once that was in a great looking bottle. I needed it for my collection (or so I thought). I had to curb my kleptomania somehow. Hence the introduction of the golden rule.

I've never been somebody that has collected things. Well, not in my adult form anyway. Sure, like most kids, I collected stamps for a while. Badges and key rings too. Even phone cards once upon a time! I grew out of the collecting phase by the age of 15. Like most adolescent males, the attraction of hanging around with mates took precedence. Even cars and girls became more important than key rings believe it or not.

Perhaps I'm a marketers dream? I used to work in the packaging industry and totally understand how products on shelves need to stand out to shoppers. Retail sales mean revenue etc etc blah blah blah. I have to admit that seeing a great looking bottle or a great piece of artwork sucks me in straight away. Imagine placing a magnet near some iron filings....well, in the bottle shop I'm an iron filing and the awesome piece of artwork on a beer bottle is the magnet. You'll struggle pulling me away. Separate us at your peril.

I've written before about my affection to Little Creatures Single Batch brews. This love stretches beyond the liquid inside the bottles. The designers over there in Freemantle keep the same conceptual design of a little shack on their labels but change the scenery each time there's a Single Batch release. A few examples:

Mad Brewers also stay with the same design but simply change the colour scheme:

Another thing that makes me easy pickings for a marketing department is a gimmick. Who on earth at Grolsch dreamt up the thought of selling the stuff in 1.5 litres bottles? Give that person a pat on the back. I saw it. I bought it...

It stands proud at a whopping 34cm tall and, now empty, is a perfect home for $2 dollar coins (not many other denominations fit through the opening) as I attempt to put some cash away for a rainy day. Probably to buy more beer thus more bottles thus what a vicious circle.

Another gimmicky bottle is the sculpted 330ml Lucky Beer ‘Buddha’ bottle.

The beer inside is pretty average but the bottle is supposed to bring me luck. I saw it. I bought it. I told you, I’m a marketers dream!

Perhaps the weirdest beer bottle in my collection is a Belgian offering; Delerium Tremens.

Delerium Tremens is actually Latin for ‘trembling madness’. This is where the phrase “having the DT’s” comes from. DT’s is a sickness associated with the withdrawal of alcohol after abusing it. If you suffer from the DT’s, it is thought that you’ll most likely hallucinate pink elephants or snakes hence the inclusion of these on the label. Very clever. Other than the strange artwork, I guess the main reason why it’s the most bizarre bottle in the collection is simply because the bottle isn’t see-through. Of course, at first glance, I thought “What the hell is in there that they don’t want me to see?”

I’ll tell you – loads of floaty bits! This is a small price to pay for a classic 8.5% Belgian beer that won ‘Best Beer in the World’ in 1998 at the World Beer Championships in Chicago, USA.

I’ll leave it there. I feel better having got my obsession out in the open. A problem shared is a problem halved. Yeah, whatever.

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of the prized collection. They're not stored in any particular order.

I'm not that weird.

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