So it crept into my noggin the other day that since today was the last Thursday of the month, and it had been awhile since I’d posted a “Beer Relics” article that maybe I should pull something together even if it was just a brief one.
For those of you new to the Island of Misfit Toys, Beer Relics was a series I started for Patrick Huff’s (Craft and The Beast, Cider Nation) now defunct Delaware Valley Beer Bloggers project. The idea was to collect bloggers from around the area and have them write an article on different days, probably only once a month, on anything they wanted to write about.
Everyone would pick a date on the calendar (second Thursday of the month, etc) and write an article for that day every month. That day was yours, and you owned it. If we got enough bloggers, we could put out a month’s worth of good content with bloggers only having to write one (or two if they wished) more posts than they already did a month. I thought the project was a cool idea, and envisioned it somewhat like an apartment building full of crabby fussbudgets all complaining about their neighbors and Commander McBragging about how their articles were getting all the page views.
My idea for the project was Beer Relics, a series in which I would go down into my barroom, pick something that has been collecting dust for 10-20 years and write the story behind it. When the idea popped into my head, I almost dismissed it, only to be shocked when I started looking at all the
crap things I had stowed away over the years and realized that I had a collection of potentially interesting beer memorabilia that a lot people either hadn’t seen, or hadn’t seen in a long time.
My first offering was an article about Dock Street Brewing’s bottle release with an upside down label. This was done as a purposeful protest concerning high tariffs when Jeffery Ware tried to export his product overseas.
Next I wrote about my growler from Zip City Brewing. Growlers may be common place now, but back in 1993 when I picked this one up not so much and there’s a slight possibility that I may have bought the first growler to ever walk out of the now closed brewery.
And then it stopped. Patrick was having trouble getting other bloggers interested in the project and soon his own interest waned until finally he went on to other things, driven largely by his renewed interest in artisan ciders.
Not wanting to lose them, I brought the two articles over to this blog (I reposted the Zip article but the Dock Street article still resides in the ‘drafts’ queue) and decided to continue the series as occasional posts here. With that in mind I wrote about the GABF’s attempt to start a traveling road show which luckily for me saw its inaugural event happen right down I-95 in Baltimore. Unfortunately a horse race and a baseball series killed it before it ever had a chance to get off the ground.
And then I let the ball slip, not having written another post in the series for awhile. So let’s fix that.
For this installment I want to touch briefly on a label I found in the drawer the same day I found my programs from the above mentioned GABF road show. A long time ago in a galaxy, well….right down the street, I ran into tDoB co-found Chuck through a mutual friend and we discovered a shared love for beer.
I found him slightly more fanatical about it however, especially one day when he said, “You should come over some time and look at my labels.” OK, that was weird. But what I found out was that Chuck peeled/soaked/scraped/guilted the labels off of every beer he drank and kept them in photo albums creating what amounted to a label-by-label history of this man’s journey through the world of beer. I though it was cool, so I started as well.
Skip ahead a bit, and suddenly my ability to drink beer is far out pacing my desire to spend hours soaking the labels off of beer bottles (I swear some people used Superglue, sadists) and so after about three albums and wads of labels stuck in nooks and crannies in my barroom I stopped – and spent the next 25 years waiting for someone to invent Untappd.
However, every now and then I glance through the albums remembering beers and breweries that at one time were mainstays on the liquor store shelves, now to be largely forgotten; or as the case in this article, beers that started out with a very different label than the one people are familiar with now.
With that in mind I offer this:
That’s my original label from Dogfish Head’s 90 minute IPA showing a man in a mask apparently about to hammer a nail into his nasal cavity. It may be common place now, but like a lot of DFH’s year round beers, 90 minute also started as a specialty beer and like many of DFH’s specialty beers, was initially sold only in a large bottle format.
After all, this at the time wasn’t the beer that would soon carry Kerry Byrne’s “Perhaps the best IPA in America” statement on its bottle holder; no this was a new beer with a unique brewing technique that Sam was trying to generate market interest in. As I’ve stated before it seems backwards but 90 Minute IPA was DFH’s first foray into continuous hopping proceeding its shorter sibling 60 minute IPA onto the market by nearly 2 years. Continuously adding hops throughout the 90 Minute boil was unheard of, but in the end produced a beer that helped put DFH on the map and kick start the craft beer masses’ love for hoppy beers.
It took some time and some pushing, but 90 Minute was eventually promoted to year round status, which means it had to go through a few changes. First, although all the target points were kept (9%ABV, 90IBU) the bottle conditioning was dropped. The hops used were dropped from the description either to save space on the label or to give the brewery the freedom to alter them if needed. Next the large bottle was ditched in favor of….of…sigh….
Exactly. A 4-pack.
The label was changed to bring it in line with the rest of year round products and while DFH’s large bottle format beer labels still enjoy an air of uniqueness and creativity, it is safe to say that none have come close to the “off-centered”ness that this one had.
Hopefully next month – In honor of Delaware’s new meadery, The Brimming Horn Meadery, I’ll step away from beer for a post and talk about my meal at Bunratty Castle, Ireland, my first experience with commercial mead, and the little cup that got me more wasted than I’ve every been in my life.
Sounds like fun. Doesn’t it?