Hopworks Draft Beer Bike: Oregon Bike Culture

Hopworks Draft Beer Bike

Hopworks is a brewpub based in Portland, Oregon. Oregon is known for good beer and bikes, and Christian Ettinger, Owner & Brewmaster of Hopworks urban brewery, has combined those along with a determined commitment to sustainable brewing in all of his business endeavors with Hopworks. The Hopworks draft beer bike is a prime example of this commitment, a mobile, pedal-powered bar used to promote this business at beer festivals, street fairs, and other special events.

From the state of Oregon comes some of the most highly rated commercially available microbrews in the world. Rogue Brewery is well known as well as scores of smaller operations, such as Deschutes Brewery, Full Sail Brewing, and Captured! by Porches. Perhaps it has something to do with the great amount of fine hops that grow throughout the Cascadia region.

Oregon is also host to quite a few bicycle enthusiasts. Many clubs are operational in Oregon, including mutant bicycle clubs such as a chapter of the Black Label Bike Club, C.H.V.C.K.E.N. 666, and old-school club from Portland, Chunk 666 bike club. These bike clubs build all sorts of mutant bicycles such as tall bikes (made from two bike frames welded together vertically), flame-throwing bikes, and lawn-mower bikes. Here, you can see a mutant tricycle built by Dingo Dizmal, formerly of the Alberta Street Clown House (now gentrified out of existence in Portland, OR):

With such an inspiring beer and bike scene, it is no wonder that Hopworks’ sustainable choice for promoting their beer was a custom bicycle bar. Hopworks Urban Brewery incorporates many aspects of thoughtful, efficient sustainability in their operation, including composting and rain barrels for rain water catchment. According to the Hopworks website, “Hopworks is 100% renewably powered and “cradle to gate” carbon neutral.” Although CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) emissions may contribute to climate change (used to be called global warming, but you must use the current terminology), additional CO2 definitely helps the hops and barley grow. Still, the Hopworks commitment to an ecologically clean operation is admirable as they pump out roughly 6,000 gallons of beer each year.

The Hopworks Beer Bike is a modified cargo bike that holds two kegs, two custom taps, a flat bar, sound system, and a rack that can hold three large pizzas! The bike itself was built by Portland, Oregon based Metrofiets. Mertofiets specializes in the building of custom cargo bikes, based upon Danish and Dutch cargo bikes with aesthetics melded from 1940s through 1960s American Bicycle designs. Their work is artisan quality, and Metrofiets has made more than one brew serving cargo bike – they also made the mobile coffee bike for Trailhead coffee roasters.

The Hopworks Beer Bike has appeared at many festivals and beer events in Portland, and always gets a lot of attention wherever it goes. This can be attested to by this discovery channel link  And from Make Online:

10 Weird Things to Convert into a Kegerator

Kegerators come in all shapes and sizes, and many beer fans are showing a great degree of creativity in their manufacture and decoration. Here are the top ten weirdest chassis that I have seen for home beer dispensing recently:

The GameratorArcade Game
Available from thegamerator.com for a mere $3,499, the Gamerator comes loaded with approximately 100 classic arcade titles such as Space Invaders, Operation Wolf, Mrs. Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, and many more. Too bad they don’t include a keg of beer for that price tag.


Lake KegeratorLake
A primitive, yet functional solution for a “redneck” kegerator is simply throwing the keg in the lake to keep the beer cooler than “hot summer day”.  Also handy for determining the level of beer in the keg – the higher it starts to float, the closer to empty it is.


Steampunk "Brewery" Computer Computer  
I highly doubt this unit dispenses beer, but it is being heralded as such.  Perhaps there is an attachment for a beer in line somewhere around back… from Russia or Poland, I hear.


This mobile draught beer system looks like a fun ride.  Two taps of high quality beer staged in a very mobile beer cooler.  Looks like it might hold full regulation-sized kegs, too.


Butt Crack KegeratorButt Crack
This kegerator is a little more creative and a lot scarier – Butt crack kegerator.  Not sure how much beer this ass can hold, but it sure is hilarious.




VW TrunkVW 
This kegerator brings new meaning to a “tailgate party”.  Sure to be a hit in the stadium parking lot.  I hope the owner made the tower modular, or else he might find his trunk has been jimmied while he was in the stadium watching the game.


Trash Can KegeratorTrash Can 
This kegerator idea is a perfect mod for trash cans of all types.  The bigger, the better, and more taps available.  Foam board insulation can be easily cut and installed for this style of mobile beer cooler.


Wine or Whisky barrelWine or Whisky barrel
Your local wine or whisky maker usually sells used barrels and half barrels to the public.  One of these can then be converted into an antique looking kegerator… and they’re great for renaissance fairs!




Vintage Gas Pump Vintage Gas Pump
For gear heads or race fans, an antique fuel pump makes an awesome kegerator conversion.  I’ve actually never seen one of these in person, but have heard stories that it has been done before. Just make sure that you get rid of that gasoline smell.




Antique RefrigeratorAntique Refrigerator
Although this may not seem that strange, it is one of the harder kegerator projects.  Older units, with the streamlined look usually don’t work – this requires rebuilding or replacing the whole refrigeration machine – running new coolant lines, fixing rusted out spots of the chassis, most likely getting a new compressor, rebuilding the weather-stripping, and a whole laundry list of other potential problems.  The result is fabulous, though.

Kegerator Modifications: Splitting CO2 Lines

One of the great benefits of owning a kegerator is tinkering with and modifying it.  One of the most popular modifications is to add an additional tap or two.  To modify your kegerator to dispense additional beers, you will need to split your CO2 lines.  You will probably want more than one tap on hand, so your kegerator can dispense from sanke kegs, soda or Cornelius kegs, or whatever keg may appear at your doorstep.  Splitting your CO2 lines can be as simple as a t-joint or as complicated as a multi-tap regulator for dispensing different beers at different pressures.  We will look here at the kits and equipment currently available on the market and processes for modifying you kegerator for dispensing any kind of beer from commercial to home and craft brew.

Co2 Splitter

For adding a quick extra beer tap onto your kegerator, a stainless steel or plastic t- or cross joint will do the job of splitting the CO2 to the different kegs – but gas leakage may occur if your keg tap isn’t maintained properly.  This is the most inexpensive way of splitting your CO2 line, and all you will need is the appropriate taps for the beer you want to dispense, surgical tubing, hose clamps, and of course the kegs of beer.  Adding an inline valve will even make it so that you can minimize gas wastage when changing kegs.  The T-splitter will cost you less than $5 and the inline valve probably less, and you can find for these items online or at your local hardware store in the plumbing section.  Aquarium supply stores may also have the fittings.  You will still need beer taps – more on that later

A more refined approach to splitting CO2 lines is the use of a gas distributor.  These units have one gas in and multiple gas outs to facilitate multi tap kegerator modifications.  The gas distributor has valves for each of the line-outs, and you can use a gas distributor to split your gas out in multiple directions.  Gas distributors are available in a number of configurations.  Two way gas distributors cost roughly $40, while the larger multi tap distributors with 6-8 line-outs can cost $120 or more.

For a draft beer system that requires dedicated individual pressures for different beers, a secondary regulator panel or a dual body CO2 regulator is necessary.  This is very advanced stuff most people need not go into this much detail, but these units will cost upwards of $150 just for the regulator panel, the price depending on how many regulators you need, or $120 and up for a dual body CO2 regulator.  If you want to force carbonate your beer while dispensing beer from the same unit, a secondary regulator panel or dual body CO2 regulator may be the modification you want to make to your kegerator.

One factor to keep in mind when splitting your kegerator’s CO2 line is that your operating pressure will decrease depending on the length of tubing you use.  When long lengths of tubing are used, the tubing expands and makes it difficult to keep the CO2 pressure at a constant rate.  The same also goes for beer lines.  If you cannot avoid having a long-draw system, you will need to use certain materials for the majority of the draw in order to ensure optimum beer quality and cleanliness.  You should strive to have no longer than six feet of regular surgical tubing from CO2 canister to keg, or 12 feet of beer lines all together from between keg and faucet.

Although there are some exceptions, long-draw systems still push beer from the keg via CO2.  The standard flexible surgical tubing is used, but coupled with a special “barrier tubing” soon after leaving the keg.  Barrier tubing is thicker than regular surgical tubing and has a mesh cover, which keeps the vinyl tubing from expanding and causing CO2 pressure irregularities.  With the use of a tubing flare tool, you can create your own stainless steel tubing for your beer lines as well, which are by far the most durable and cleanest options, although they are harder to build and modify.

See related:
Modification Project: Adding Double or Triple Tap Tower
Placing CO2 Disconnect Couplers
Installing Co2 Lines Efficiently
CO2 Tank, Pressure and Regulator Questions
CO2 Tank Guide

The Mini Kegerator Craze

Mini kegerators are a convenient way to enjoy draft beer at home, and many beer fans are joining the bandwagon. In our world of gadgets and gizmos, this invention is quite sellable. Most mini kegerators are designed to dispense from a new kind of five-liter beer keg, available at most supermarkets. While these mini kegs are easy to find, I have only seen them from Heiniken, although I hear that many other companies produce them. Mini kegerators are very portable, making them the perfect choice for weekend camping or boat trip, and also fit into any RV with little work, as some brands run on 12-volt power. Mini kegerators are about the size and weight of a microwave. They make a good gift idea for any die-hard beer fan.

Some mini kegs require the use of electricity to keep the beer cold, and others you simply place in your fridge. This is where the mini kegerator comes in. Many companies are making these gadgets these days. Here is a brief revue of some of the more competitive models:

EdgeStar Mini Kegerator

EdgeStar Mini Kegerator 
Under $200.00
The EdgeStar Mini Kegerators are good multi-purpose mini kegerators. Heineken 5 liter Draughtkegs can be used in them, and they feature quiet operating noise. These mini kegerators light up with a blue LED light to illuminate your mini keg beer choice. Includes cleaning kit (a must), and is capable of running off of AC or DC power. All this for only $200.00 or so. See Mini Kegerator Details

Avanti Mini Kegerator

Avanti Mini Kegerator
Around $200.00
The Avanti Mini Kegerator MBD5L is another multi-purpose kegerator in which either gravity flow or CO2 can be used for operation. This unit can also be used with AC or DC power, making it a good choice for RVs, camping, or boating. It features a digital display and both tapping and cleaning kits are included, a real bonus! This model can be had for around $250.00. Icy Cold Mini Kegerator works with CO2 mini kegs and gravity feed mini kegs, and can hold even 6-liter mini kegs. A fan inside the kegerator ensures even cooling of the keg, and it is hand washable. These are found for around $200. See Mini Kegerator Details

Krups BeerTender Mini Kegerator

Krups BeerTender Mini Kegerator 
From $99.00 to $200.00
Krups BeerTender is powered by a CO2 pressure system, and features three temperature presets (36°, 39° or 42°F), a beer volume gauge, and keeps track of how long your mini keg has been opened. A good multi-function mini kegerator – these run about $200.00. See Mini Kegerator Details

Vinotemp Mini Kegerator

Vinotemp Mini Kegerator
Around $300.00
Vinotemp Mini Kegerator VT-BEER. Beer flow is powered with CO2. This unit comes with a digital display and push button temperature settings, and the cooling system operates efficiently. It also comes with 3 CO2 cartridges to get you going. Prices run from around $300. See Mini Kegerator Details

Nostalgia Electrics Mini Kegerator

Nostalgia Electrics Mini Kegerator
Around $175.00
Nostalgia Electrics Mini Kegerator BC4600 is a mini kegerator designed for use with gravity flow mini-kegs. This model is self-cooling, and runs about $175.00. See Mini Kegerator Details

As you can see, there are many variations on the theme of mini kegerators. Some models focus on efficiency, some on multi-functionality. Take the time to consider what qualities will make the mini kegerator useful to you – it is a good idea to shop around to ensure you best value if you plan on buying one. Some questions you should ask before buying are:

Is this mini kegerator energy efficient? With the current economic and environmental situations we are facing in the world, this is an important issue. We see, smell, and hear pollution from our cars and trucks, but we often don’t see, smell, or hear the pollution coming from our power plants – but the effects of such pollution are drastic and frightening. The environmental destruction from coal and nuclear power plants is hard to measure now – future generations will be more familiar with the real costs of utilizing such techniques to power our gadgets and gizmos. Therefore, it is wise to conserve energy.

Does this model accept the mini kegs of my favorite beers? This is the most important question. What good will a mini kegerator be if you can only drink swill form it? Double check that the model you buy will fit the keg you drink from – or that an adapter is available for it.

Will this mini kegerator work with CO2 powered mini kegs? This question is related to the previous one. If the mini kegerator utilizes CO2, and your favorite beer mini keg utilizes CO2, it will probably work. If it does, you will also need some CO2 cartridges – know what you will need to operate your mini kegerator.

Is this model noisy or quiet? For some, noise pollution is as bad as smog. If you or the person you are buying for has sensitive ears, look for a mini kegerator that features quiet operation. If the user does not have sensitive ears, then go for the value on the louder mini kegerator.

Will this model function on DC power? And does it come with an adapter for such use? Especially if giving a mini kegerator as a gift, you will want to make sure it comes with everything it needs for operation. DC power is nice to have, and some models with DC power come with the adapter, but just in case, make sure that the model you are buying has the adapter – it may be hard to find otherwise.

If you are buying a mini keg as a gift, you should make sure to give them beer with it. Like giving a flask, it is bad luck to deliver the gift empty of alcohol. Some models use a gravity feed system, while others use a CO2 system for dispensing the beer. It is a good idea to check in with the mini keg receiver about what beer they like and suit the mini keg accordingly.

What's so Special About Kegerator Beer?

Ah, to enjoy a cold draught beer after a long day of work or play – and in the comfort of your own home.  Kegerators can make any gathering more special, whether it is a night of music, movies, gaming, or football.  Finding the tight kegerator for your home can make all the difference, and they are essential appliances for the home bar, whether it be in the den or a speakeasy-style basement bar.  For home brewers, kegerators are the perfect choice for serving your kegged home brew.

Canned and bottled beers are great – but they run out so quickly.  They also take up a lot of space in the fridge.  This is why kegerators make such great additions to any beer fan’s home, whether you are a home brew hobbyist, a craft beer enthusiast, or just a fan of beer.  Draft beer just tastes better, especially at home.

Kegerator Beer

The best thing about having a kegerator around is when company comes over.  To be able to say to friends,

“Help yourself to as much beer as you want – the kegerator is right over there!”

That is a beautiful moment.  I remember my first night of kegerator drinking.  I believe it was Austin, TX micro brewery Live Oak’s Big Bark Amber Ale.  My host was generous, and the beer cold and tasty – thanks to his kegerator.  It certainly made that visit “just to say hi” much more special.

Buying a kegerator doesn’t have to be expensive, either.  Kegerator conversion kits can turn that old fridge that you don’t know what to do with into a useful appliance.  They are available for $50 to $250, depending on what design elements you wish to incorporate.  You can even put that top compartment freezer to use keeping pint glasses and mugs nice and frosty.

If you are looking for something pre-packaged, you can still get a mini kegerator for as little as $100.  These mini kegerators dispense store bought mini kegs of the five and six liter variety with optimum ease.  Some even dispense the beer with CO2, supplied via cartridge, to ensure that your mini keg beer keeps for up to 30 days.  But one party and that mini keg is toast, trust me.  If the beer has not been drank after 30 days, you are doin’ it wrong!

Most kegerators have the capacity to serve at least one 15 1/2  gallon keg of beer at time.  With pony kegs or soda kegs, and multi-taps, you can even have more than one beer on tap at one time.  Some kegerators come with four or more beer taps.  That’s better than a lot of bars! 

Kegerators are also highly customizable.  If you want more taps, you can always add them later.  Tap handles are another way to customize your kegerator.  Put tap handles of your favorite beers on your kegerator, or make custom ones out of a gear shifter or a My Little Pony.  I have even seen someone take a wooden wine barrel and use it to build a façade around their kegerator to make a most convincing and entertaining illusion that the beer flowed up right from a wooden keg.  You can equip your kegerator with a nitrogen system for smoother draughts or add a filtration system for clearer pints.  Spice up your kegerator with custom skins or beer decals.

Whether mini or full sized kegerator is for you, the benefits of having draft beer at home remain the same: make your home more hospitable, have better parties, and never be short of beer, even on Sunday.  A kegerator in your home bar is a definite plus, whether on game day or for a great birthday party.  All of this is what makes kegerator beer so special.

Kegerators and Lagering

Kegerators and Lagering

Lagering beer can be problematical for home brewers, if they are not properly equipped.  The key is that, for home brewing, kegs and lagering go hand in hand with the handy home bar invention called the kegerator.  A kegerator can do two things at once – act as a lagering closet and serve beer. If you want a little more control with your lagering temperature, you may opt for a lagering closet or separate fridge or freezer conversion.

The ideal lagering temperature for beer, according to white labs, manufacturers of specialty brewing yeasts, changes over the lagering period.  Ideally, the lagering process starts out at 51 to 53 degrees.  This temperature is maintained for the first week, and then the beer is allowed to warm to 62-64 degrees for four to six days.  After this, white labs recommends lowering the temperature five degrees per day until the ideal long-term lagering temperature of 31 to 32 degrees is achieved.  Then, lagering for six weeks at the lowest temperature takes place.

This is the most complicated lagering scenario I have heard of.  Most home brewers do not maintain such precise controls in any their brews, but it is clear that one would need to have a precise temperature controlled lagering closet in order to produce a lager of such exacting qualifications.  Keep in mind that the process of lagering was first developed by Bavarians keeping their beer in caves.

I would recommend a slightly more low-tech approach to lagering.  By utilizing your kegerator, you can lager your beer at roughly the same temperatures, as long as you are not serving beer at the same time (except at the final lagering stage, if you fudge the temp up to the regular serving temp of 38 degrees).  For the homemade conversion-style kegerators, there is plenty of room for an additional Cornelius keg, and sometimes a Sanke keg.

It is at this final stage that the keg comes into the picture.  This is the perfect time to transfer your lager beer into a keg for its final fermentation stage.  By lagering your beer in the keg for its final fermentation cycle, you can ensure that it will be a simple process to serve your beer.  After the fermentation is complete, simply tap the keg onto your beer line and serve.  No need to move the keg around and let it settle – although be sure to clean and sanitize your beer lines between each keg.

A custom temperature control can be installed into your kegerator or lagering closet if you do want to maintain such precise lagering controls as described by White Labs.  Johnson Controls produces what is probably the easiest to use temperature control unit.  The Johnson Controls unit plugs right into he wall and controls the power coming into your kegerator or freezer, turning of the power when the temperature reaches the right reading, and turning the power back on when the reading goes above the dial.

Whether you go low or high tech, lagering beer at home can be a challenge if you don’t have a kegerator or temperature controlled freezer / lagering closet.  It is not an impossible challenge, however, especially not for the home brewer who knows how to get things done.

Breweriana: Treasure Hunter's Guide to Nostalgic Collectibles from the World of Beer

Breweriana has been come to be known as the collectable detritus of brewing’s past. The term breweriana first appeared in the U.S. as the 1972 founding of the National Association of Breweriana Advertising. Most beer fans consider old beer signs, neon signs, advertising bills, old rusty beer cans, pint glasses, t-shirts, patches, or anything with a brewery’s logo on it to be breweriana. The collectiblility potential of breweriana is easy to see – some people have been able to make a great deal of money through the sale of breweriana antiques.

Breweriana is a popular field of collectables for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as with most collectables, is nostalgia. To determine the nostalgic value of an item you must look at how trivial items play through history. The item must also be authentic to be worth much. Knock off nostalgia items tend to break the spell of nostalgia eventually. As with other fields, in the area of breweriana, it is important to look at discontinued items.

Another reason why it may be profitable to trade in breweriana is that many bars look for these ancient items when assembling their décor. If you run across a big sign or neon from an antique dealer or scrapyard hustler, you might be able to turn a profit by inquiring at local pubs and the hipper dive bars. The antique décor motif is one used in curiosity shops, bars, and even big chain stores like the cracker barrel.

When looking at breweriana, it is a good idea to find out about the location of the brewery that first created the breweriana. Regionally, breweriana from closed down and defunct breweries is more valuable than it is nationally. This is because more people recognize the name brand of their once-local brewery or brewpub. It is a good bet that an old beer sign can fetch a better price in the state that it was originally displayed.

There are many folks that collect beer cans and bottles from the past. These items must be handled with care, as the beer contained within (if any) has often undergone a hideous transformation. Most collectors drill a small hole in the bottom of the can and drain the sometimes-noxious contents before setting the collectable on the shelf. Bottle caps can be pried off carefully and re-applied to achieve the same effect.

Keep a look out for older cans. Cone tops, crowntainers, and flattops are among the most valuable. Cone tops and crowntainers both have a cone like top, which was usually capped with what we cap bottle caps these days. Flattops had no tab and required a bottle opener to get at the beer inside. “Instructionals” is the term for flattops that have instructions for opening listed on the side of the can.

Some of these cans, the earliest from the Krueger Company, required their own can openers. Flattops had no tab and required a bottle opener to get at the beer inside. The "flattops" needed a regular can opener, the sharp lever-pry type. Some of these collectibles (the openers) are usually formed from a piece of steel rod which loops around and is about 5-6 inches long. Usually the beer can openers have a stamp from the beer manufacturer. One of the more popular pieces of breweriana among private collectors is the crown, or bottle cap. Bottle caps were initially manufactured in the 1890’s. Those that survived through prohibition are the hardest to find, and most of those are from defunct breweries.

Beer signs, or even posters, are another hot item, mostly because they are sought after by bars and pubs to add to their décor. Some older signs look like posters but have been printed on sheet metal. We can see reproductions of these items out on the market as well, such as the old Guinness mascot, the beer-swilling Toucan. The original designs are worth a lot, not so much for the reproductions.

When looking for breweriana, make sure you know what you are looking at. There are many books out on the subject now, such as Beer Signs for the Collector and the Beer Advertising Memorabilia series. A visit to Amazon.com or your local library will give you some insight on this field of antiques.

See related:
Breweriana: Collectible Beer Signs
Breweriana: Collectible Pint Glasses
Breweriana: Specialty Beer Glasses
Breweriana: Collectible Beer Steins

Breweriana: Collectible Beer Signs

Beer Sign

Many beer fans these days are decorating their home bars with the breweriana of the past. One field of breweriana is collectible beer signs. These signs come from many places – bars, restaurants, gas stations, and in many forms. Some beer signs are stamped metal, some are neon, and then there are the painted mirror variety. A fine old antique beer sign sure can liven up your home bar or den, and with many reproduction signs available, prices are coming down for this unique home décor item.

From antique European beer steins to pint glasses to neon signs, the realm of breweriana offers a wide variety of collectibles for beer fans the world over.

One item that no home bar should be without is a clever old beer sign. Many of the slogans used to sell beer are quite catchy. Steel or tin signs reading "Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder", and even "Best Head in Town… Get it at Luckey’s Bar" can be found as originals or reproductions to spruce up your home bar in a comic fashion.

The advent of reproduction beer signs certainly has brought down the market for the antiques, at least for those that have been re-made. For those home bar owners who have yet to invest in an antique beer sign, this is good news! Now you can get great vintage-seeming beer signs at low prices. But for antique collectors, do not fret. If you are the one who has a great old beer sign that hasn’t yet been reproduced, you may find a buyer or have some reproductions made yourself.

One of the flashiest types of beer sign made is, of course, the neon beer sign. Almost every brand currently in large-scale production has neon beer signs made to advertise their product. Even some micro brews have these neon beer signs. Although the theories leading up to the invention of neon date back to 1675, the first neon lamp on public display occurred in Paris, France on December 11, 1910. The inventor, Georges Claude, patented his invention is 1915 in the U.S. and sold the first commercially produced neon signs to a Packard car dealership in 1924 for a whopping $2400 (for two). It was not long after that neon signs started springing up everywhere, including bars and the Vegas Strip.

Vintage neon beer signs are rare items. Neon is notorious for its short lifespan. One of the oldest neon signs still glowing belongs to "Luckey’s" bar in Eugene, Oregon. The sign currently resides indoors, due to a law banning large signs in the town which was passed in the 1970’s. The Air Devil Inn of Louisville, Kentucky claims their sign is also from 1934. This would seem to be the logical date for any of the oldest remaining, intact neon beer-related signs. 1934 was a good year, after all, the year that prohibition ended in the United States!

Of all the forms that beer collectibles take, the beer sign is one that most effectively lends the flavor of the era in which it was made. Anywhere a vintage beer sign is hung lends an aura of authenticity to the room. You will find many bars collect and line the walls of their establishments with these old signs, beer posters, and other vintage breweriana. Why not your home bar?

Breweriana: Collectible Pint Glasses

Collecting takes many forms, and in the world of beer collectibles, or breweriana, one of the most popular collectibles are the vessel by which beer is imbibed. From the early days of earthenware steins to crystal goblets, beer has been enjoyed in a variety of vessels. In recent times, the glass that most accurately symbolizes good beer is the pint glass, and many brew pubs and breweries have released their own logo-ed pint glasses, which are treasured collectibles for fans of their brand.

Pint Glasses

The number and variety of collectable items related to beer is staggering.  From beer signs dating back to prohibition days, to antique steins from Europe, to painted bar mirrors, to modern day pint glasses, breweriana is seen from coast to coast.  Of the many forms breweriana has taken, it is the pint glass which has now come to the fore of the modern collector’s shelf.

A look at the collector’s market for antique beer collectables will show you just how much beer vessels can fetch.  Some go for as little as $5, but the older items can fetch hundreds or even a thousand dollars!  Of course, you may not be around by the time your pint glasses are worth that much, but collecting is best when it is about enjoying what you have, not selling it!

These days, most commercial beer makers have produced pint glasses with their logo emblazoned upon them.  These are sold to the public at many breweries, and also to commercial bars, restaurants, and suppliers in the food and beverage industry.  The most collectable of these is the limited edition pint glass.  Usually minted in order to celebrate a special seasonal beer, these are sold at the brewery and at beer garden festivals as well. 

Commemorative pint glasses like these are great reminders of good times and good beer.  But not all commemorative pint glasses are produced for beer.  Many events are now making their own commemorative pint glasses as part of a lucrative merchandising strategy.  Events like Phoenix’s World Invitational Joust, Sports clubs, and even bands are producing pint glasses to commemorate shows, parties, and seasons.  In this way, pint glasses are beginning to move past the realm of breweriana into larger scopes of collectables. 

It is nice to have some different pint glasses around for social events as well.  A glass like the Phoenix’s World Invitational Joust commemorative pint glass can be a great conversation starter!  Glasses from local brewpubs can also remind people of good times they had there.  “Remember when…”

Often, a set of pint glasses will have a matching beer tap handle.  For those breweriana fans that own their own home draft beer system, these tap handles can add a nice touch to your serving.  There are many places on-line that sell different beer tap handles, and on ebay you can even find sets of matching pint glasses that come with the beer tap handle.

Collecting pint glasses is a common practice among home brewers and home bar owners.  Keeping an eye out for unique and interesting pint glasses can enhance your home bar experience and that of you guests – so keep an eye out for ‘em!

Breweriana: Specialty Beer Glasses

Specialty Beer Glasses

Specialty glasses have existed throughout the ages, whether they are for wine, champagne, or different types of beers. From crystal goblets to stoneware steins, and, more recently, Belgian glass goblets, glass, ceramic, wood, and metal crafters have produced their visions of the perfect vessel for the perfect drink. The ratio of slope to surface area, breathing area, and volume contained within, are all tailored to the liquid viscosity and temperament of the beverage in question.

Having a unique specialty beer glass for each of your alcoholic beverages has always helped to make the moment special. Who ever heard of sitting around the local pub, drinking mugs of ale? That may be true for mid-evil re-creationists, but most beer fans prefer pint glasses. That way you can see what you’re drinking. In mid-evil times, you didn’t always WANT to see what you were drinking.

Having a nice rack of differing specialty beer glasses is good for when company comes over. It can encourage your friends to bring some fine ale if you have some Chimay glasses around. These glasses are called chalices, and feature a wide, flat bottom and straight sides to allow the many aromas of the monk-style Belgian ales to be smelled.

Having a set of German bier Steins up on the shelf may also lend clues to guests as to what you’d like at the next potluck (better Heineken than Budweiser, at least). The stein and the mug are best suited for ales of the inimitably quaffable kind. Beer that is guzzled easily. Beer that you want to drink a lot of because you want to become intoxicated.

European specialty beers often fall into the category of beers that should be served in specialty beer glasses. If you walk into a bar that serves a selection of Belgian ales, this is a good place to learn more about the difference between specialty beer glasses, but until then take my word for it: Weiss biers and hefeweisens have a glass which is curvy and top heavy. This gives a little lip at the bottom to catch any yeast sediment, which may result from drinking the bottle-conditioned variety of theses ales.

Pilsner glasses are the more straightforward, simple and elegant tall glasses with only the slightest of curves. The relatively narrow top channels the bitter aromas into the nose, facilitating an aromatic blast with each swig.

Lambics, being specialty ales from a nation of specialty ales, are best indulged in what is known as a flute glass. This resembles a champagne glass, but with more curves. This keeps the bubbles moving around, for like champagne, lambics are highly carbonated. The narrow top keeps the aromas from floating about too much.

Barley wine glasses usually hold less beer – barley wines being much stronger in alcohol and flavor than regular beers (around 7%-12% alcohol). In order to prevent patrons from stumbling over each other drunk or passing out in the bar, the volume of the glass is decreased. The glasses usually have a fairly open top to allow the rich and malty bouquet of the barley wine to waft above the specialty glass. Go to a good barley wine tasting and you will see what it is all about.

The Samuel Adams brewery of Boston, Mass., just this last year released a glass, which their brewers claim, serves beer as brewers intended. The Samuel Adams Boston Lager Pint Glass shares many traits with the flute, but it is bigger and has a much wider mouth.

"We wanted to create a glass that offers beer lovers a full sensory experience by fully showcasing Samuel Adams Boston Lager’s complex balance of malt and hop flavors.", said Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams.

And last, but not least, one good reason for having different specialty beer glasses, for different kinds of beers, is to help bar patrons to remember which glass is theirs. A night of drinking can sometimes muddle ones perceptions. In any case, is not a finely crafted beer worthy of its own glass?