From the Bottle Collection: Suwanee Ale

Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice. Tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s. Or: cover them with The Bottle Collection.

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Written by Ken Carman


I think I know who brewed this. I’m pretty sure I know who brokered the deal. And I even have a friend who worked there: ran a homebrew store in the same building at the same time he lost a lot of money. It was called Micro Masters. They were the go between who helped design or just flat out designed the labels. They only had two to three styles of beer and everybody got these various versions of bland. They weren’t horrible. No, the brewer, near Tampa, was a pretty good brewer. It’s just the idea that stunk, and part of that was selling beer no one would be offended by, which to me… is offensive.

I worked for Steve Fried in Pensacola under various conditions: brew bitch at McGuires, painter at his rental houses and beer shuffler at Micro Masters. He paid me in beer. He’s the only person, and his companies, were the only beer businesses, I ever made that kind of deal with.

Why? Well, as I typed, he’s a friend.

The contents were never anything to brag about. I think this was the same ale that was somewhat like a very light Sam Adams. Few to no hops. Boring, to be honest. Nice head. Certainly not bottle conditioned.

I hated to see Steve lose a lot of money, but I can’t say I’m unhappy the whole deal fell apart. Steve’s a great brewer that went back to McGuires and had to leave again because he refused to brew Bud for someone he thought was shifting back and forth from accepting, to not accepting, to accepting, to… all the various attempts to brew a McGuires Bud. As he said he told Mr. McGuire, “Why don’t you just put in a Bud tap?” He brewed one of the best barleywines I’ve had at a brewpub. At Micro Masters I hated to see him be part of an organization that was basically slapping different, really meaningless, labels on fizzy water pretending to be beer.