I have now been employed in the brewing industry for 20 years. I have worked as a brewer, brewery representative, retail beer buyer, and as a seller and portfolio manager in wholesaling. Over the past 20 years I have collected a number of tools used in the production and selling of beer. These items are usually highly specialized to perform a certain purpose or service. A number of interesting items have also been issued by the yeast, hop growing, and malting companies.
A great gift from hop suppliers was a sprig of hop cones suspended in a preserving liquid sealed in a glass vial.
Some of the earliest collectibles available from the brewing industry would be items like brewers rakes and paddles, malting rakes and shovels, coopers tools used to produce barrels and other crude tools used to perform various jobs in the brewing process. Some improvements have been made to these tools over the years but surprisingly the jobs they perform have remained virtually the same. Tools like shovels and rakes used to always be made of wood. Now they are made of high quality food and pharmaceutical grade stainless steels and plastics. These improvements have allowed the same job to be completed with less risk of contaminating the brew. Wooden barrels are still produced essentially the same way. Most brewers have switched to stainless steel kegs. These require specialized tools to maintain the safe and sterile service of beer. Draft beer tools are also specialized to repair and maintain a pure glass of beer. Over the years many manuals and pamphlets have been printed by breweries to offer advice and tips on how to maintain a clean and smooth flow of draft beer. A number of slide charts and wheels have been put out by the breweries which calculate the amount of beer which can be served from the various sizes of kegs. Most these have the brewery or distributor brands and logos on them. I have a few items, which advertise a particular brand and the name of the wholesaler on them. Ashtrays and mugs were a popular way to advertise both the brand and the distributor.
A number of brewery and distributor trade groups like the Brewers Association of America (BAA), the Association of Brewers (AOB). Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA), National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), Beer Institute, and American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) have produced a number of publications and manuals to help maintain brewing industry standards and guidelines. Some of these trade groups have also produced a number of publications promoting the history and economic impact of the brewing industry. They have also published a number of tips and tools to promote responsible drinking. I have three different printings of the “Practical Brewer” put out by the MBAA in my collection. All of these organizations have also put out a number items at their various conventions. Items like steins, glassware and various tools and reference items have been issued by these organizations or a participating supplier like a hop grower or malting company. Items like U. S. to Metric, Fahrenheit to Celsius, and Barrels to Hectoliter conversion charts have been useful tools given out to the brewers by various allied suppliers. A great gift given out by hop suppliers was a sprig of hop cones suspended in a preserving liquid sealed in a glass vial. These were used as paperweights and display items in many brewmaster’s offices around the world. Malting companies have issued a number of malt spectrums over the years. These displays would showcase the different lovibonds or hues that their particular malts would impart in beer. Various Hop, Yeast, and Malt suppliers have issued a number of helpful posters. These posters help the brewers decide which ingredients and how much to use in their recipes. Briess Malting of Chilton, Wisconsin is of course famous for their high quality malt and extracts but each Christmas many of their customers cannot wait for their bag of malted milk balls to show up. This small token of thanks given to Briess’s customers is a grand reward for a year’s worth of business. Now a days many of the allied and supporting industries hand out items like mouse pads, screen savers, magnets, stress balls post-it note dispensers, and other modern novelties to remind the brewers of their products and services.
The Adolph Coors Brewery survived Prohibition by producing pottery and many high-grade ceramic instruments. A number of ceramic instruments and testing devices used in the brewing industry are still produced by this division of Coors today. Many of the brewing schools and different quality control laboratories own a number of patents on various products and procedures used to improve and test the quality of beer. These institutions have also sold themselves through various clever and handy trinkets. Maybe it has been my 20 years in this industry or just the collector in me but the industry related advertising tools have always intrigued me.