Friday, April 13, 2007

Collective reasoning

Bottles, openers and trays, oh my.

If you’re one of the legions of beer drinkers who sees a budding art collection in brewery advertisements, bar towels and empty cans, then this event is for you.

The Garden State Chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America is holding its spring swap on Sunday at the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark (in Union County).

It’s one of three gatherings the club holds each year to give collectors a chance to buy, sell or trade brewery memorabilia (breweriana, as it’s known), from neon signs, sports programs, glassware and coasters to trays, tap handles and clothing emblazoned with brewery names and logos.

And don’t forget the humble can or bottle, testaments to the evolution of how beer is packaged and served. Some beer cans – like rare, pre-World War II containers – can fetch handsome sums (read thousands of dollars).

(Special Jerseyana note: Many a beer enthusiast knows canned beer was born in the Garden State in 1933, from a union between the American Can Company and Newark’s Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company. Beat that, red Bass ale trademark triangle.)

The April show is expected to draw collectors from as far as Pennsylvania and Connecticut and could feature as many as 60 tables from traders, many who are members of the BCCA’s Jersey chapter.

The organization’s treasurer, Scott Manga, says the two larger shows – a kickoff show in January and an Octoberfest show in the fall – pull in collectors from as far north as Massachusetts, as far south as Virginia, and Pennsylvania from the west. Those shows are two-day affairs, held in conjunction with the Jersey Shore BCCA chapter.

If you go

Where: The Polish Cultural Foundation, 177 Broadway in Clark.
Time: From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Trader fees: $12 for Garden State BCCA chapter members, $15 for non-members. Admission for walk-ins and guests 21 or older is $5.
On tap: Climax Brewing’s Hoffmann Helles, Magic Hat (Vermont) Fat Angel and beer from J.J. Bitting Brewing Company brewpub in Woodbridge.

(Special thanks to outgoing Garden State BCCA president Terry Scullin for the photos.)

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