Everybody has a secret. Things you wish to keep from public view; traits that your closest friends would raise their eyebrows at, and never quite consider you in the same light. So it was a massive relief this morning that I discovered that I was not the only person with this ‘habit’. My closet custom is the collection of bottle tops, and reading Mark Dredge’s blog at Pencil & Spoon I realised I was not alone.
Beer has been a passion of mine for all of my adult life. But only in the last few (or slightly more) years have I been collecting bottle tops. It started off as a purely aesthetic obsession; I started to keep bottle tops that were attractive to the eye. Since then it has turned into an historical record of the range of beers that I have tried and tasted.
Sadly it’s a very incomplete measure of one’s brand history. Obviously draught beer, the mainstay of most drinkers in this country, is excluded. Buying bottles from pubs creates the slightly awkward situation of having to ask the bar staff for the cap, leading to very peculiar looks and much sniggering! And then a personal frustration – brands and breweries that don’t brand their bottle tops. This is probably a gripe of very few people so you can understand why it’s not so important to brewers!
The exercise of writing this blog necessarily involved the examination of my collection. My bottle tops currently reside within a box of Christmas Celebrations. Spreading them across the table brought back fantastic memories, particularly of holidays – amazing how beer evokes such intense memories of places I’d forgotten I’d visited. Bottles of Smadny Mnich remind me of my first trip to Slovakia with my wife. I reminisced about an excellent trip to Croatia which included a few bottles of Karlovacko, memories of Thailand’s beers and many examples of trips to Belgium, as well as so many quality lagers and UK-brewed ales.
Bringing together all these beer experiences, in metallic form, reminds me just how big a part beer has played in my life over the last few years. And how different all the beers are!
For the record my current tally stands at 259 – and when I can get the photo uploader to work then I’ll post my collection!