From the Bottle Collection: Rheingold

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.

Written by Ken Carman

This was one of my first beers and, to be honest, I drank it for the booze. Someone bought it for me when I lived near NYC. I’m guessing you know the rest of the story.

I didn’t like it at the time, and I’m lucky to have developed a palate for beer after that because most beer was of this style back then. I had it after that first try, but even that was so long ago I can only give you a distant recollection: yes, it was a just a rather dry version of the usual lagers almost all the brewers in U.S. made: America Lager. Not grainy in any sense, rocky head, urine color (sorry), hops: some, but only a tad that added to the dry sense, very well attenuated. With Rheingold it was all about the mouthfeel as far as making it different compared to Bud, Miller, Schmidts, Stroh, Piels or Schaeffer; a few of the big beers back then available near “the city…” as some insisted on calling New York City, as if it were the only city in the world.

Rheingold was introduced in 1883 and at one time held 35% of New York State’s beer market. This was a time when regional brands were king, and few breweries had been swallowed by the Miller/AB (now InBev) monoliths. It was claimed Rheingold was the working man’s beer, in the most manual labor definition of “working man,” and I have little doubt that’s true. I was working at a cemetery in Nyack, NY when I first had it and the guy who bought it for me I seem to remember had just been let out of Sing Sing after a long sentence for murder.

If you that means it was not a “nice” place to work: correcto mundo!

The company shut down a shortly before the twin towers were built where old radio row used to be. One wonders if in part of collapse there were a few old collectable cans found, put there by thirsty construction workers. It really did have that kind of audience as a beer. The same construction workers who did those infamous whistles at women walking by probably also voted for who would be the Rheingold woman every year.

Taste-wise, other than the dry sense, probably more name recognition and advertising than the actual product: though I do remember the dry sense being pretty intense, at least compared to other beers from that era.