Collecting in a Winter Wonderland
A few years back, the state of Ohio banned a 12-pack carton of Bud Light that featured Suds Mackenzie riding in a sleigh and wearing a red hat trimmed in white. The reasoning was that this Santa-like image might influence children. Immediately, I began to acquire any type of beer item designed to celebrate Christmas.
I had no idea just how vast this segment of my collection would become.
A great number of breweries have used Santa to hawk their beer. A jolly old elf with a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly sure seems to me like a good beer spokesman. A great rendition of this idea was the holiday theme applied to the famous Tuborg Thirst poster. Instead of the old guy leaning against a hitching post on a hot day, the Tuborg graphics department created a winter wonderland background and replaced the thirsting man with a Danish version of Kris Kringle.
Delirium Tremens each year releases a holiday brew known as Delirium Noel. Here the famous pink elephants from the Terminus label replace the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh through the night.
A snowman is another great seasonal pitchman. Stroh’s for years would set up displays in stores around the Midwest featuring the Strohman reminding everyone to Stroh a Party this holiday season. The Strohman became as popular as the Santa riding the razor in the Norelco commercials.
Coors releases its Winterfest with label graphics that change from year to year to depict a different winterscape. Michelob for years used to offer packaging with a holiday look and feel.
Microbreweries and imports have also capitalized on the holidays to increase their beer sales with the release of a seasonal brew. The Olde Frothingslosh brand used to be released by Pittsburgh Brewing Co. each year at Christmas time. Anchor of San Francisco produces a spiced ale. Each year this label features a particular variety of evergreen. Sierra Nevada offers Celebration Ale. Avery, from Boulder, brews up Old Jubilation Ale with a great Courier and Ives look about its label. The liquid inside is just as memorable. I have some great mugs and coasters from the Weeping Radish Brewery, located in Manteo on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Their label uses a line drawing of the brewery framed inside a wreath.
David Geary created the memorable tagline for his Hampshire Ale winter release. Geary’s, being a brewery located in Maine, uses the slogan, “Just because the weather sucks does not mean your beer choices should.”
The holiday segment of my collection is filled with postcards, pint glasses, glassware in general, Christmas cards, coasters, mugs, posters, beer cans, and the list goes on. I have a heavy gauge wire device that is bent to resemble a Christmas tree. It was originally used as a “point of purchase” display to sell ornaments. Each year I tie on it a number of holiday beer bottles along with a number of my beer advertising ornaments. Believe it or not, it is better looking than one of those plastic or aluminum models. This year I added a set of ceramic buildings depicting the structures around the Leinenkugel’s brewery of Chippewa Falls, WI. It is somewhat reminiscent of the Dept. 56 style of Christmas decoration.
Santa Claus comes but once a year and, unfortunately, so do specialty brews like Rogue Santa’s Reserve, Berghoff Hazelnut Winter Ale, Pyramid Snowcap, Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome, Affligem Noel, Rockies Never Summer, North Coast Wintertime, and all of those draft-only offerings at our local brewpubs. This holiday season, reward yourself with one of these great offerings whether you have been naughty or nice.
Beer Dave Gausepohl has collected breweriana since 1974 and has a personal collection of over 400,000 items. He has visited over 1,000 breweries and tasted well over 10,000 different brews from the world over.