Beyond Beer Bottles: Collectables for Everyone

A brief search for “beer collectables,” “beer collectibles” or “beer paraphernalia” on the Internet will yield hundreds of web sites devoted simply to the collection of beer-related collectibles. Anything from empty beer cans or bottles, bottle tops and labels, through to beer bottle openers and beer glasses are widely collectible items and may involve years of dedicated research and collecting. Even beer can pop tops are collectibles to some hobbyists.

No hard and fast rules limit a beer paraphernalia collection, but truly fascinating collections are often based around a common theme, such as a particular brewery, brewing region, or style of beer.

Collectible Beer Paraphernalia

Some of the first beer collectibles were bottle caps and bottles. Today’s beer collectibles range from the classics to bar towels and serving trays, to even more obscure collections, such as beer bags. Here’s a list of the collectibles:

  • empty beer bottles
  • empty beer cans
  • bottle labels
  • bottle caps
  • pump caps
  • cap lifters (particularly with a beer brand on them)
  • beer glasses or steins
  • beer brand coasters
  • bar signs or lights
  • bar mirrors
  • beer brand serving trays
  • bar towels with beer brands.

If you keep your eye open for “anything about beer,” you’ll find some amusing beer collectables in novelty stores to spice up your collection. They make great gifts for beer aficionados too. Consider these beer-related novelties:

  • Christmas tree lights shaped like beer cans
  • beer steins with a bell attached (to call for a refill)
  • beer glasses with lights that come on when the glass is empty
  • novelty fishing lures made out of bottle caps and openers
  • beer brand playing cards
  • bumper stickers
  • beer brand neckties.

Novelty Buttons

A collection that takes up less room than a bottle or can collection is the novelty button and pin collection. You can find novelty buttons made of molded plastic, metal with enamel, or solid pewter. Novelty buttons range in size from 0.5 to 3.5 inches or more. Novelty buttons can be stored in specially designed cases that can be wall-mounted or stacked, and that help protects the collection from dust and damage. For the more casual collector, consider attaching the buttons to strips of ribbon that are hung on a wall, or pressing the buttons and pins into a corkboard.

Collectable Coasters

Coasters are typically made of thick absorbent paper, but you may also find coasters made of leather, cork or metal at your local bar.

The original coasters of the 1800s were thick raw paper pads with little printing on them, although some were embossed. A few years later, breweries recognized that coasters gave them the opportunity to advertise. As printing evolved, coasters became more colorful. Now you can find coasters stamped with brewery logos or the bar’s name. Coasters are among the most interesting and colorful beer collectibles. To protect your collection, store the coasters in special acid-free albums. Some albums are designed with clear sleeves that allow you to view both sides of the bar mat.

Commemorative Beers

With the rise of microbreweries, commemorative beers are becoming more popular. While still relatively rare, you can get beer to commemorate events such as the Governator’s election to office in California.

A good measure of the future value of a commemorative beer is to find out how limited the release is and how sturdy the ale will be as it ages. Beers that are part of an enormous production batch, or that lose taste before they have had time to appreciate in value, will probably not become classic beers. One beer of note, Thomas Hardy’s Ale, a beer brewed in occasional batches, is known to improve until 25 years of age and is a gem in any beer collection.