Sunday, July 31, 2011

jelly belly

Jelly beans have always had a special place in my heart.  It's hard to find really good ones, though. Michael and I are fans of the Starburst jelly beans, but we eat them only around Easter. Conversely, I'd eat Jelly Belly jelly beans any time of the year -- they've always been the best. When I was a kid, my sister taught me the special art of mixing Jelly Belly flavors together in just the right combination, producing an explosion of flavor in your mouth.

I admit that Jelly Belly had lost me for a while with those Harry Potter jelly beans. (Snot? Dirt? Not what I want to be for jelly bean flavors. And while I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books, I can't imagine how these tie in. Faithful readers, help me out here. Does Harry Potter seriously eat dirt in these books? What is the meaning of these flavors?)

During my last few trips to candy stores, I saw that Jelly Belly had some soda flavors that looked pretty delicious: Dr. Pepper (!) 7Up, Orange Crush and, of course, Root Beer (A&W). Touche, Jelly Belly.

But the ultimate? I recently noticed Jelly Belly SODA in a few bodegas and supermarkets. Now there is something I can get behind. And do they have an awesome bottle cap? YES. Check it:

Unfortunately, the sodas taste like crap. They seem to subscribe to the Mexican theory of sodas: the sweeter, the better. Michael and I tried the Blueberry flavored soda, and I think we each only had a sip before we spit it out and drained the rest in the sink. I do not have high hopes for the other flavors. But I will continue to be excited for a bottle cap with a jelly bean on it. Bravo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

stone brewing

On my trip to the Midwest this summer, we had a birthday party for one of my hosts. His son-in-law came up to me upon arrival, with a six pack in hand. Check this out, he said, as he showed me four different types of bottle cap, all from Stone Brewing Co.

I will admit that we didn't have the correct bottle opener to properly extract these caps from their bottles, but I think we did a pretty good job considering our restrictions.

It's a nice variety of bottle caps: the gargoyle drinking a frosty brew, the gargoyle with the brewery name, and then some odd ones that are very utilitarian. I'm sure there are more in the series, but this was all I was able to get. The ones with the gargoyle are great. The 100% Natural and the website bottle cap? Eh, it makes me think that Stone Brewing ran out of ideas, but still wanted to keep the series going. They could have had two gargoyles toasting, or even a gargoyle stirring a brew kettle or something. Clearly they have the imagination to have a gargoyle drinking a beer -- lets take it one step further!

As for the taste, honestly, the IPAs were a little too hoppy for me to really enjoy them, and I think I switched to a different beer about halfway through my bottle.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I know I blogged briefly about Frostie in the past, but I feel it's necessary to bring up a new bottle cap, and with it, a new story.

Driving back from Kansas City through central Missouri, we saw many interesting billboards. Lots for fireworks, Antique Malls and the Mizzou team store. But my absolute favorite billboards were the ones for Nostalgiaville, USA. They were incredibly insistent (billboard after billboard after billboard for nearly sixty miles) on us visiting them, and despite Michael's protests, we ended up pulling off I-70 on exit 148 and checking out what proved to be an excellent nostalgia trip. So, yeah, the advertising worked

They had old bottles with soda. They had tin signs. They had sections devoted to Bettie Boop, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, I Love Lucy, and Elvis. They even had a fridge chock full of.. yes... Frostie sodas.  They had Blue Cream Soda, Root Beer, Cherry Limeade and others. I was VERY tempted to get a Blue Cream Soda (by the way, what is up with all of the colored cream sodas? I've seen red, blue, honey and clear. Any thoughts on the cream soda color craze?). But, before I could place my money on the counter, I spied a bottle cap turned upside down in a mostly empty garbage pail. Yes, I admit it. I dumpster-dove for a Frostie Root Beer Bottle Cap. And then I didn't buy a soda.

I would like to publicly apologize here to Nostalgiaville, and offer this as my penance: Go shop there! They have awesome stuff. They sell bottles of Vitameatavegamin (even if it is candy). And of course, they sell a wide variety of Frostie Sodas, which are delicious. Should you be in central Missouri (it might happen), I highly suggest you check it out. Or face the wrath of their billboards.

Monday, July 25, 2011


I'm sure that my devoted bottle cap connoisseurs know that there is a candy out there specifically for us.  It is a Wonka product, and it is, fittingly, called Bottle Caps. They taste suspiciously like Smarties, or Necco Wafers, but not quite as crumbly. I'm sure that I've previously mentioned my love for old-fashioned candy, but if not, this is an excellent opportunity to do so. Bring me a Mary Jane, a Squirrel Nut Zipper, some Beamans Gum, or even a Bit-o-Honey and I am a happy camper.

Wonka's Bottle Caps easily fall into this category. However, a quick search on Wikipedia doesn't give me the date that they were originally released to the market. This makes it difficult for me to decide if it is really old-fashioned enough for me to dig it properly.

Currently, the flavors are root beer, cherry, grape, orange, and cola -- all potential soda flavors. When tasting them, really the only flavors that stand out are root beer and cola. The rest all sort of taste the same. Apparently there was a time when there was a lemon-lime instead of cherry. I long for those days, and I didn't even know they existed up until about 10 minutes ago.

Either way, it was a lot of fun to find, and then eat, said bottle caps. Especially on a hot day in NYC when a sugar rush was necessary. The only complaint? No way to close the box after munching on a few! Michael had to put the whole box in his pocket, because if I had tried to put the box in my purse, there would have just been a lot of dusty sugar at the bottom of my bag.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

heavy seas - guest post by michael lober

I never paid much attention to bottle caps before I met Lauren. When I was growing up, my mother purchased six packs of bottled soda and hid them in the laundry room. The bottle caps were faded, scuffed, and seemingly recycled -- in other words, nothing much to look at. I went to college in St. Louis, a decidedly Budweiser town. Most parties revolved around coolers packed with canned Bud Lights. Again, bottle caps were either absent or an afterthought.

How times have changed. Now, I scrutinize, seek out, and admire bottle caps weekly with Lauren. I scan the aisles of bodegas and grocery stores, request caps at bars, and even scan street corners for stray crowns. It's gotten to the point where the other night, I had my first dream of bottle caps. I was walking to the subway on my way to work, and right there, next to the subway steps, I spotted the largest bottle cap I'd ever seen. It was red, undented, and as round as a dinner plate. The top read simply, in the same font as a Coke crown: "Large Bottle Cap." After retrieving it, I asked someone if he knew what it was for, and he told me that Fritos now came in capped bottles. I was so eager to tell Lauren about my new chip-bottle cap that I skipped the subway and headed back to the apartment. Unfortunately, as happens in many dreams, I was diverted somewhere along the way and somehow ended up in my hometown. 

So, what's the point of this story? There might not be one, really, except perhaps that bottle caps have thoroughly penetrated my subconscious. Anyway, I might not have been able to give Lauren the large chip bottle cap from my dream, but I recently took a work trip to Washington DC, and snagged her a pirate-themed bottle cap from Heavy Seas beer. As you can see, the bartender badly mangled it. Normally, I'd toss it, but who wouldn't want a skull-and-crossbones crown, even a dented one? 

P.S. Lauren here!  I couldn't let this post go by without telling my absolute favorite pirate joke. (It's terrible. Just go with it.)
"I just found out that there is a new pirate movie coming out. I don't know much about it, except that it's rated Arrrrrr!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011


A while back, I mentioned that Crowncap Kidd had sent me a pretty sweet haul of new bottle caps.  I previewed a few of them early on, but have yet to really dive into the awesome crowns I received.
This changes now!

Youngs Brewery, hailing from Merry Old England (where I will be traveling later this summer), has a pretty great bottle cap.  Dark blue with a white ram head, yet slightly modernist in its image -- and even has that "is it a ram or is it a Y" thing going on.

It has an animal on it, which is a plus. It has a Y, which stands for Youngs. Would I know, though, by looking at it that it is a UK beer called Youngs? Probably not.  I understand it would take away from the minimalist theme they have going if they actually put Youngs on there, but it would certainly help with brand recognition, especially in the US.

It looks like Wells and Youngs recently merged, and although I haven't blogged about it yet, I have tried Wells Banana Bread Beer (which is quite delicious).  I'll blog about that one another time!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

seadog brewing

A while back, I mentioned that Crowncap Kidd had sent me a pretty sweet haul of new bottle caps. I previewed a few of them early on, but have yet to really dive into the awesome crowns I received.
This changes now!

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to have another delicious dinner at Luke's Lobster, this time in the one on the Upper West Side, before attending a play in Central Park (gotta love NYC in the summer).

Luke's Lobster prides itself on getting fresh Maine lobster and providing local brews (both soda and beer). I'm sorry to say that I did not get the Sea Dog bottle cap at Luke's but it seems like it would be a good place to find it. There were a few other beers, but we were in a bit of a rush and ended up not having time to really sit down and enjoy a brew, so we stuck with soda for our beverage of choice.

I will also direct readers to the history page, where not only does it tell the story of Sea Dog, but ALSO talks about Barney the Dog. I love it when there really is a dog associated with the brewery.

I love this bottle cap! It's simple, and although it doesn't really tell the drinker what they are having, it sticks with the animal theme that I enjoy. However, it would be pretty cool if they stuck their dog with the rain hat on the bottle cap. Didn't I already go over this last week with Shock Top? Take advantage of your mascots when you can!

Monday, July 18, 2011

shiner ruby redbird

It has been hot in New York City. Granted, it's not as hot here as it was in Austin when I was there (or even when I was in the Midwest), but when you live in a city where everything stinks (the garbage, the sweaty people who press up against you in the subway), 90 degrees and high humidity can be a real bummer.

One of the bottle caps I got when I arrived in St Louis was Shiner's Ruby Redbird, which looks like an amazing beer: it's made with grapefruit and ginger. That sounds incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day. So it makes sense that the bottle cap advertises "the perfect summer beer."

I would not put this bottle cap on par with Shiner's Goat (or sheep, or whatever animal it is!) but it is a rather nice crown.

I'll have to see if I can find Shiner Ruby Redbird in my neighborhood. So far I haven't been able to find any. If you know where I can get these beers in the NYC area, let me know! I'll even take it on tap!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

shock top

Shock Top Beer is one of those beers that I just wish I liked more. The label is pretty cool, it's a belgian wheat beer, it hails from the midwest (and what can be bad about that?) and it has potential to be a cool bottle cap. I even did another tour of the Budweiser Brewery Tour this trip!

Yet, Shock Top could be "shock-ier".  As you can see, it just says "Shock Top" and has a little sun burst. Why doesn't it have the cool orange slice with the sun glasses? That would definitely be a hall of fame contender!

Shock Top, I implore you. Make your Orange-man mascot your bottle cap design.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

new belgium brewing

Having six people who are all very supportive of an obsession with bottle caps comes in handy -- mostly in bars.

During the Midwest extravaganza, we spent an evening at D'Arcy's Pint in Springfield, IL: home of the horseshoe. If you're not from central Illinois, you might not be aware of this culinary delight. In so many words, a horseshoe consists of meat on texas toast covered in french fries and smothered in cheese sauce. The first third of a horseshoe is pure bliss; the next two-thirds...well, let's just say that you'll feel it the next morning. Needless to say, a horseshoe is best eaten with a bottled beer. 

One of the fun discoveries at D'Arcy's was New Belgium Brewing's Fat Tire. Unfortunately, according to their Libation Location, it is unavailable in the NY Tri-state area (which is probably why I haven't heard of it yet!)  

The best part of finding New Belgium, besides the fun bike on the bottle cap, is its tie-in with the Tour de Donut (mentioned earlier in this blog) -- the 32 mile bike race where you can eat as many donuts as you can at two pit stops to knock 5 minutes (per donut) off your time! Apparently, a competitive eater from Kansas City participated this year and ate 40 donuts and still finished the race. Michael and I ate 38 fewer donuts than that between us, and that was enough for us. You gotta love the food out there in the Midwest.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I can't blog about my trip to the Midwest without mentioning Schlafly.

Unfortunately, due to delays in our flight from NYC to STL, we were unable to fit everything into our time in St. Louis, and the Schlafly brewery tour/restaurant had to be scrapped from our itinerary. (Sorry! We'll come next time, I promise!)

But I was given a Schlafly bottle cap upon my landing by my gracious hosts.

I feel like I'll have a better idea of what to say after I actually have a chance to visit the brewery, so just enjoy their lovely bottle cap. And Schlafly, Michael and I participated in the Tour de Donut this year in Staunton -- a small town in Illinois outside of St. Louis -- and we saw a few folks on your bike team! How did you guys do?

Monday, July 11, 2011

boulevard brewery

Thank goodness plans can change. During our sojourn to Kansas City last week, my travel companions and I did not always plan ahead. We really wanted to go on the Boulevard Brewing Co.'s brewery tour, but we didn't realize until the day of that we needed reservations! We figured that we would wing it and see if we could finagle our way onto the tour. When we got to the brewery, it didn't look good. The tour was booked up (months in advance, apparently) but they took our name and asked us to wait around.  Luckily, there were some last minute no-shows, and on we were! The part that got me the most excited? The way they keep track of the free samples is by using bottle caps as tokens. Guess who pocketed the extra bottle caps? Yours truly. And luckily, since I was traveling with a large group, we were each able to taste each other's beers, so we didn't have to use all of the bottle caps for the samples. So thank you, Boulevard, for fitting us into your tour, and also providing some free bottle caps for my blog! Bonus points for you!!

Once we realized how good the brewery was, we started seeing the beer on tap and in bottles in restaurants across across the city (including in Oklahoma Joe's -- possibly the best BBQ in town. And it's housed in a gas station, no less) as well as in St. Louis when we returned to home base.

Currently, Boulevard has three types of bottle caps.

If I had to pick a favorite, I think the smokestack (with image) bottle cap would be the top.  It looks (vaguely) like the brewery, it has the name Boulevard on it, and it also mentions Kansas City -- and for a microbrew, that's key. You want to know where your microbrew comes from!

My favorite of all of the ones we tasted was definitely The Sixth Glass. We actually tried this brew the night before our travels to the brewery when we were eating BBQ (can you sense a theme) at Jack Stack (it was right across the street from our hotel -- there was no driving around looking for pulled pork on the first evening in town). The Sixth Glass has about twice the alcohol rate of a normal beer (more than 10 percent) and is also richer in flavor. You can sense figs and dates in the brew and there's very little bitter aftertaste. Even one of my travel companions, who hates the bitter taste of most beer, found The Sixth Glass to be surprisingly palatable. Actually, it seems that most of the beers that Boulevard brews are rich in flavor: we tried a stout at the brewery that was amazingly light and had the unmistakable taste of coffee.

Boulevard -- and downtown Kansas City.

They make beer in those pipes! 

Just a few of our many taste-tested beers...and a few bottle caps to boot.

P.S. To all you traders out there: if you need any Boulevard crowns, I have some extras.  Email me at laurenwalles (at) gmail (dot) com if you want to trade.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

lost trail

Last week was my biannual trip to the Midwest. The pit stops? St Louis, MO; Springfield, IL; Columbia, MO; and Kansas City (KS and MO). Mostly it was visiting family. But there was, of course, an ulterior motive. Finding bottle caps! The trip started off well: the traveling companions I met at the airport had a few for me and as soon as I arrived in St Louis, there were a few more!  But those will be discussed at a later date.

The first crown I want to highlight this week is Lost Trail Soda. Lost Trail was purchased at a supermarket in Kansas City (Kansas! Not Missouri!) after a trip to the wonderful independent bookstore Rainy Day Books. I was able to get Root Beer, Sarsaparilla, Cream Soda, and Strawberry & Cream in a 4-pack. All of the bottle caps were the same, but since I was there, and buying an "authentic" Kansas soda, I figured I would try as many flavors as I could. This was the only root beer that I could find that is made and bottled in Kansas, but if anyone knows of any others, tell me about them in the comments section.

The bottle cap is fun -- a cowboy on a horse yelling "Yahoo!" all one color. It's a playful idea, although I wish they would have pulled a Stevens Point/Henry Weinhard and given the cowboy a few additional things to say. Yee-haw? Howdy? Giddiup? The possibilities are endless. Lost Trail, if you need more ideas, let me know.

I'm happy to report that all of the flavors (save the Strawberry & Cream -- WAY too sweet) were quite delicious and were made with cane sugar (not HFCS). The cream soda in particular was excellent: smooth and flavorful. I'd definitely buy them again if given the opportunity!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

ny times

Still traveling this week (but have lots of bottle caps to blog about!) In the meantime, check out this article at the NY Times about the comeback of soda fountains.