Without intent, I have collected well over 2,000 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.
I haven’t written an edition of this column for quite a while, but after a few Zoom meetings with various brew clubs, and members asking about the collection, I thought I’d feature some of the collection.
First, top left, is a defunct brewery from the 90’s Saratoga Thoroughbrews may be familiar with: Lake Titus Brewery in Malone, NY: a town I used to travel through when Millie, now Carman, went to Potsdam, and I went to Plattsburgh. (I also got in a small accident there, but that’s another slippery tale heading down an ice ice coated hill with a streetlight at the bottom in the early 70’s. Pintos dented REAL easy!)
I really don’t remember the beer: an Amber Ale. Must not have been remarkable. I usually remember.
The second I do remember: remarkably terrible. The brewery: Rikenjaks when it was in Jackson, Louisiana in the mid 90’s: between Lafayette and Baton Rouge, if I remember right. I think I had one good beer from this brewery, and it has since been moved to Lake Charles. The rest back then I had were laced with that green garden hose/medicinal “goodness” I loathe. If I remember right Steve Fried, former long term brewer for McGuires in Pensacola, told me when they were in Jackson they had storage, stocking and shipping problems. The phenols were so bad I’m guessing sanitation too. Wonder if they used bleach?
I suspect they’ve gotten better. I seriously doubt what they bottled back then would have kept the brewery in business.
The last is not remarkable except one thing. It’s one of the original 60’s/early 70’s Black Label beers that came out of my mother-in-law’s cellar when she sold the house in New Hartford, NY. It had been there since the 70’s. What is unique about it is it has never been opened. Don’t do it! Black floaties in it!
They have had many owners of the brewery, including Peerless Motor Company! In South Africa they spent a lot of time working on marketing during the era apartheid came down due to the “Black” in Black Label. No longer widely distributed in the United States, now owned by Miller/Coors. Isn’t big boys gobbling up the smaller ones a GRAND tradition, especially when they only offer more of the same with the purchase? SIGH.
Not my style of beer, and little difference between Black Label and other American adjunct brewed lagers of the era. I swear back then they were cloning them sometimes and just slapping on slightly different labels. Do I want corn or rice beer? YUM??? (Blah.) But I can, and have, judged them well, because I don’t care. When it’s a style I have a passion for it’s harder.
I will revisit this column from time to time. I consider it like a very brief refresher on what has gone before.
From the Bottle collection is a column by Ken Carman: homebrewer since 1979, collector of bottles and such, Certified beer judge and columnist. Ken Lives in Nashville, Tennessee, Eagle Bay and Beaver River, NY.
Ken Carman and Cartentual Productions
all rights reserved