JOHN HOLL

AUTHOR|DRINKS JOURNALIST|BEER JUDGE|EVENTS

A Closer Look At Bottle Caps

Posted by: John Holl in Articles

Consider for a moment the lowly bottle cap. While it plays a crucial role in the delivery of bottled beer, once it is twisted or pried off it does little more than make a satisfying plink as it hits a trash can.

Or does it? Before you go tossing it aside, turn it over and you might be rewarded with a little saying, picture, or information. That’s because more and more breweries are using that circular bit of space to add a little more interaction to your beer drinking experience. Some of them are pretty inventive.

At Big Sky Brewing Company in Missoula, Montana the makers of Moose Drool brown ale, Scape Goat pale ale, and others have been using printed slogans under the cap since 2006. In part it’s fun but it also helps to provide some insight to the brewery and forge a bond with customers. Imbibers in turn have responded with their own interactions.

“Apparently some people use our caps as some sort of magic 8 ball when pondering important life decisions,” said brewery co-founder Bjorn Nabozney. “As a result we have had a number people contact us to thank us and tell us how our cap slogans have changed their lives.”

Nabozney says that there is a group of about five that comes up with the slogans (many conjured up over beer) and they have a whole catalogue of quips to chose from when they print new ones each year. Not everyone that makes it onto a cap however, leads to merriment.

“For a while we running a cap that said ‘Damn dude nice Camaro’, we had to discontinue it because people kept calling in trying to claim the Camaro they had won.

AWARDS, GAMES & PHRASES

There is no clear number of just how many breweries are printing under the cap, but it is certainly not a new phenomenon. For decades National Bohemian Beer (a staple in Baltimore that goes by the nickname Natty Boh) has been placing picture puzzles on their caps that translate into recognizable sayings. It’s so popular that websites devoted to solving the riddles have cropped up in recent years.

In a similar vein Full Sail Brewing Co. of Hood River, Oregon has taken to placing pictures of rocks, paper, and scissors on the underside of their Session beer caps turning a casual outing with friends into a friendly competition. A while back the brewery held a tournament at a local pizza restaurant and so many people turned up to play that it consumed an entire city block, said brewery spokeswoman Sandra Evans. One obvious fan of the brewery even went so far as to have the Rock-Paper-Scissor etchings tattooed on himself. The brewery also produced unique caps for the rotating LTD line – each with a three word phrase using the letters L-T-D (Living the Dream, Love to Dance, Lame Tweets Disappoint) are just a few examples.

Other breweries like Magic Hat and Anderson Valley have also been placing witty or insightful sayings under caps for years, much to the delight of regular customers – in fact there are now clubs dedicated to collecting the metal rounds.

Michigan’s New Holland Brewing Co. fosters a customer’s inner writer to emerge by placing just a single word under their caps (think magnetic poetry) allowing for creative sentences after cracking open a few bottles.

Samuel Adams gives drinkers a sense of pride in their beer choice by placing awards they have won over the years on the underside of caps. They started this practice in 2001 and have included nearly every honor garnered since 1985.

“We are proud of the awards that our beers have won against some of the world’s best beers, so we wanted to share those with our drinkers in a way that was fun and a little bit different,” said Jessica Paar, a brewery spokeswoman.

A REASON TO CHEER

As there is much to be thankful for in this world, it’s a fair bet to say that most folks will offer a simple cheers with a clink of their glass before taking the first sip, or have a reliable standby that conveys a happy message (“To good health” To World Peace”). Those are fine of course, but Widmer Brothers Brewing of Oregon is offering their own suggestions with a new-ish “A Prost to…” campaign on their caps. This way you’ll always have something to say before quaffing another beer. Some examples: A Prost to… Those who make us better, Daylight Savings Last Call, The Bald and the Beautiful. Perhaps best of all? The slogans come from customers. So, get on your thinking – er – caps, open a beer and get to work !

A Prost to… The entertaining, informative, and collectable bottle cap!

This article first appeared in 2012 in TAPS Magazine