Friday, June 3, 2011

The Session - Breweriana and Collectables

I must admit to being somewhat slack on taking part in The Session. What normally happens is that I completely forget about it being the first Friday of the month until the day in question actually arrives. I wish I could say that this month is any different, but I would be lying, however, the theme of Breweriana and Collectables as given by All Over Beer is something I have meaning to blog about for a while, so why not today?

As The Beer Nut has pointed out on his post, many a post today will no doubt be about glassware, but given that I posted about my glass collection a while back I won't go down that avenue, though the collection has grown and now includes a beautiful hand blown glass from Williamsburg. Rather, I thought I would share some thoughts about breweriana shows.

Back in February my photographic collaborator, Mark Stewart, and I started the research phase for our next book, research naturally being the visiting of breweries, brewpubs and pubs, not to mention the imbibing of the brews on offer. The first town we visited was Fredericksburg. It was the weekend of the Blue Gray Breweriana show, which we stopped in at because some of the Morana Dark Lager I brewed with Devils Backbone was supposed to be on tap that weekend. We duly paid our $10 to gain access to the unlimited beer supply and had a wander around the exhibition.

I will say straight off the bat that I almost felt as though I had landed in an episode of Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends. It was bizarre. Grown adults, I thought about saying "grown men" but there were plenty of ladies about as well, with vast collections of cans, trays, brewery signs, more cans, bottles and yet more cans. Mark and I set ourselves the task of finding a Budweiser can, as in Budweiser Budvar, which we did in due course.

All around me were people beaming with pride at their collections, collectors moving through the stalls with devout awe and the occasional audible gasp at the sight of a rusty tin can from a long lost brewery (cans are nothing new you see, but I guess they didn't have "craft beer" in the old days, just beer made with malt, hops, yeast and water). I have never felt more like a fish out of water than for that hour or so as we wandered about. I even wondered if I were a mere beer interloper rather than one of the hardcore fans. The last time I saw so many tin cans in a single place was at a landfill.

Some of the collections were actually the kind of things that I would buy if I had my own bar, signs, lights, trays, towels, all branded with long forgotten beer makers who probably had an army of loyal drinkers in the days before Prohibition. Most of it though was, let's be frank, junk, beer junk for sure, but junk nonetheless, several times during the visit I expected Steptoe and Son to come through and buy stuff for recycling.

I guess my take on collectables is really rather simple, if you can't use it, what's the point? Glassware, sure. Branded clothing, sure. Barware, sure. Most other things? Erm, no, I just don't see the attraction.

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