Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Well, crown fans, I think it's time for a mailbag of sorts. Remember last year when @Vadrach sent me a whole slew of bottle caps? It is time I paid that glorious shipment some more due.

Zywiec, hailing from Poland, is a brewery that has been around since the 1800s. 1856, to be exact. To make things easy on us, Zywiec Brewery is in in Zywiec, Poland. Nice.

Their bottle cap is pretty neat. We have a crown, the year the brewery was founded, the name of the brewery, and best of all, a man and a woman in some sort of traditional garb dancing a traditional dance. They are complete with feathers in their hats, socks/stockings pulled up to their knees, and look really happy to be there. If I were depicted on a bottle cap, I'd probably be doing the same dance!

There is a lot going on, though: I sort of want the Zywiec logo to be a little smaller so that the dancers could get some more surface area. But that's a small quibble. The fact that there are two dancers on there is certainly better than one dancer. And who doesn't love a crown on a crown?!

If only I knew what the beer tasted like... I'll have to check out my international grocery store to see if they carry it. You never know in NYC!

Monday, February 20, 2012


Happy One Year Anniversary, SCBC readers!  It was a year ago on Feb 19 that I started this blog. Wow! So much has happened since then, and I've tasted so many sodas, beers, maltas (yuck), and other bizarre beverages, all with bottle caps of varying degrees of coolness. It was a great year, and I'm looking forward to another one.

What better way to celebrate one year than with a bottle cap that covers a lot of territory. The last time I mentioned Duff beer, I was talking about Horny Goat, Milwaukee, and fake TV beers. But NOW, I can talk about Duff beer as an actual beer. Which, amazingly, it is. I can't get it here in the U.S., but thanks to this funny thing called Ebay, I was able to get a Duff bottle cap quite cheaply. (Thanks Internet!)

This bottle cap sort of has it all. It's a fictional beer that is now real. It uses the real Simpsons font. It is related, in some way, to a TV show that is awesome (well, used to be more awesome than it is, but DID just celebrate its 500th episode, so they must still be doing something right.) I'm still waiting for the DVD of just Itchy and Scratchy cartoons to come out, which I can't believe hasn't been done yet. That's gold, people. GOLD. Duff Beer has already been made. We need something else, now.

And how do they keep thinking up couch gags?  I wonder if there is just one person whose job it is to think up new ones. I would very much like that job. Just saying.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I hope you're enjoying the exciting world of sugar vs. high fructose corn syrup here at SCBC. Today is the 3rd and final day, unless of course, someone can find me an American Fanta in a glass bottle. (They have Mexican Fantas at my grocery store. I love my neighborhood!)

I will admit I cheated a little bit with Pepsi. I was so excited to find a Mexican Pepsi that I didn't even think that it might be impossible to find a Pepsi in a glass bottle. Yeah. So, I found one, but ALAS it does not have a bottle cap.

There is another issue that Michael noticed on the Mexican Pepsi's labeling. On the bottle, it clearly says that the beverage is made with sugar. HOWEVER, on the bottle cap it says that it is made with jarabe de maiz alta fructosa AKA high fructose corn syrup! (Cue ominous music.) Who do I believe? The bottle or the crown?! Or my mouth?!? (More ominous music.)

Michael and I both took sips: neither one was particularly sweet. The Mexican one was slightly smoother but both had a bit of a metallic quality that we saw in both the Sprite and Coke from the U.S. I went back and tasted both without ice, just to see if there was a difference. It was very, very slight, if any. I'm not entirely sure that they're different. Or if they are, it is too subtle for my taste buds.

How about the bottle cap? Well, as mentioned above, I wasn't able to find an American Pepsi in a glass bottle with a crown, so all I have to go on is what I have from Mexico, and some images from the internet.

The Mexican crown doesn't even say Pepsi. It just has the red, white, and blue swirl. Very international.

I found an antique bottle cap on the web with the swirly text and the red, white, and blue as a contrast. I love the old fashioned image. And you can definitely see the evolution to where we are today.

I just wish I knew for sure if the Mexican Pepsi I drank was really full of sugar!

Monday, February 13, 2012

coca cola

At the risk of seeming repetitive, I'll admit that I've written about Coke before, but I couldn't resist a taste test with this signature beverage as well. I've had many a conversation with friends and co-workers about the availability of Mexican Coke in NY, which is easy to find in pretty much any grocery store. Some people say they swear by it and will ONLY drink that version.

Now I can see why.

Again, as with Sprite, there is clearly a difference between high fructose corn syrup and cane sugar when it comes to these sodas. Coke with sugar has a fuller, sweeter taste with a smooth finish. Coke with HFCS, sadly, tastes like chemicals. It has a metallic tinniness to it. It tastes flat. People: if you have the option of avoiding American Coke, then don't drink it. It just isn't good.

And yet, check this out: American Coke's bottle cap is just that: "Coke" with a (R)egistered trademark that could also be a Period. Coke. Period. The font looks slightly off, almost lazy. It's clearly not the official font for Coke, and I don't know why they would have changed it to something so bland.

The Mexican Coca-Cola, in contrast, has the loopy script that has been long-associated with the Coca-Cola Brand. Beautiful, classic, simple.

I also wanted to take this chance to highlight a few of the other Coca-Cola bottle caps I have, both from here and abroad. I won't re-hash what I've already discussed (Coke World!) but check this out:

Here we have Coca-Cola Classic and Coke Classic. What I find interesting about the Coca-Cola Classic crown is it highlights the "original formula," which probably has to do with distinguishing it from that misbegotten New Coke experiment in the 80s. I find it interesting because isn't the original formula with sugar? Not HFSC, which it clearly states as the 2nd ingredient. In other words, it's a bit of false advertising, clearly not derived from the classic formula that the Coke company keeps hidden in a vault somewhere in Atlanta.

Coke Classic has the signature white twisty line, and it's the font I remember from my youth. Nice.

I also have a stash of older Coca-Cola crowns: one red, one silver. The red one is also South American: I think Michael got it on a trip to Chile (it says Talca on the side!). And the silver Coca-Cola lists its ingredients as water, sugar... so you know it's, like, classic.

It really is fascinating to do the side-by-side taste test. And even if you think you don't have a sophisticated palate, try it if you can.  You'll be blown away. Trust me.

**P.S.  Happy Valentines Day, everyone.  Red Coca-Cola crowns for V Day, right?!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I have written about Sprite in these pages before. But just recently, I found some Mexican Sprite in my local grocery store, alongside a few other Mexican sodas. And it made me think: this is the perfect opportunity to do side-by-side comparisons of high fructose cane sugar Sprite and cane sugar Sprite, along with the inevitable bottle cap comparisons.

First, the taste: It is amazing when you taste these two sodas side-by-side. American Sprite, with its high fructose corn syrup, tastes metallic and flat. There is a sharp aftertaste, not necessarily sweet but more chemical-like. Mexican Sprite, on the other hand, tastes sweet and smooth and coats your throat with a sugary, but not too sweet, aftertaste.

The bottle caps?  Both pretty cool!  The American bottle cap is green, with Sprite in big, bold white letters. The Mexican bottle cap is blue with white letters. Not as bold as the American, but still clean and bright. Both "I"s are dotted with lemon/limes.

I also wanted to bring up the interesting contrast between a few other Sprite crowns that I have:

The white one is from South America--Santiago, specifically--and is a Sprite Zero, just for the record. It is difficult to read, and has the ingredients right on the crown. Not the best design, to be honest. It pairs well, though, with this blue Sprite crown that I have, which is sort of an "in-between" crown -- that is, on a design chart, it falls somewhere between the South American and the Mexican. It is blue, has Sprite across the top, but also has the lemon/lime i dot, as well as the ingredients. You can almost see the evolution!

I also have this really old Sprite crown: pre-lemon-lime i dot, and it includes the ingredients. The crown also has a crazy-looking font, as if Sprite is still searching for its identity.

All in all, an interesting range. The caps evolved nicely into the clean-looking design we have today, but the taste....well, clearly, Sprite would have been bettered served if it had stuck with cane sugar.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I'm surprised that this is the first time I'm discussing Jarritos, the weird Mexican soda that I find in bodegas and restaurants across NYC. Recently, I came across a 200th anniversary (a bicentennial, if you will) commemorative bottle of Jarritos for Mexican Independence. Granted, their bicentennial was in 2010, and I found this bottle about 6 months ago, but no matter (EW!!!). I guess soda keeps??

Anyway, this bottle cap has a celebratory bird, is gold and black, and frankly a little busy compared to Jarritos regular bottle cap:

Which is green, silver, and white and very clean looking.  And it clearly tells you, in Spanish of course, that it is made in Mexico.

Jarritos also has a seltzer line, with its own bottle cap: blue and white with the word "Mineragua" across the top in place of the usual Jarritos. But don't be fooled. Mineragua just means mineral water in Spanish (thanks Spanish 101!)

Jarritos has unfortunate flavors like tamarind and pineapple. No one wants these flavors. Please stick with tutifruti (fruit punch!) and lemon-lime. Anything more adventurous than that is going into crazy, sticky sweet territory, and I just can't take it! Thank goodness they don't all have different bottle caps.  There would be a lot of soda going down the drain.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I'm telling you, the trip to St. Louis this go-around really was an abundance of riches. I found yet another root beer from Pennsylvania: Kutztown. I will say this: I'm fascinated by the fact that so many microbreweries make root beer and birch beer, but not many tackle colas. Why is that? Do they just not want to compete with Coke and Pepsi? Why is there such a variety of root beers and cream sodas? It is like no one has cornered the market on root beer, cream soda, and sarsaparilla. But cola -- don't touch it with a 10-foot pole.

I don't have many notes from this tasting, but it was noted that this root beer was better than another one I bought (but haven't blogged about yet: stay tuned. I think that one is coming up next week).

The bottle cap, however, is very nice!  Bright yellow, bold lettering and a frosty mug of root beer highlighted in the middle. If i didn't know it was root beer I might think it was from The Simpsons!

Monday, February 6, 2012

dr. browns

I would like to briefly continue my NYC theme (Go Giants!). Dr. Browns, although bottled in Southern California, originates in NYC (and the old-timey images on the cans and bottles reflect that).

In NYC I most often find Dr. Browns in cans, not bottles, but it's still delicious. Sometimes I can find a six-pack in Duane Reade for, like, $1.99, which is awesome. I'm a big fan of their Diet Black Cherry Soda. Michael is partial to Cel-Ray soda, for reasons that I can't fathom. I mean, why in the world would you want to drink a celery-flavored anything? Anyway, according to Wikipedia, Dr. Browns is common in Jewish Delicatessen's. I like that they make that distinction. Not a corner deli, not your neighborhood bodega: only Jewish Delicatessen's. Why?

When I was traveling last summer, I managed to find Dr. Browns on a morning show set I was visiting.  I made sure that the segment was over, and I snagged a few bottles for the road. I couldn't believe that I'd never seen one in a bottle in NYC. Turns out I had to leave NYC to find one of its signature sodas in a bottle, not to mention the bottle cap stamped with Hebrew letters.

And then again, over Christmas when I was visiting the holy grail, I found another Dr. Browns in a bottle! This time a Cream Soda. This gives a nice range of what the bottle caps look like, but I must say that I prefer the latter. The old-timey images, this time of the Statue of Liberty, call to mind NYC and delicious soda (except for the fact that I've never found a bottle of one in NYC, oddly).

You can get a nice look at the full line of bottle caps for Dr. Browns here. But those images don't include the plain crown I have above. Is it rare? Anyone have any info on that? Or maybe it's a bottle cap that comes out around the Jewish Holidays or something? Help me out, dear readers.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

brooklyn lager - go giants!

A quick post tonight, basking in the post-Giants Super Bowl win. Tonight I invited over a few close friends for cheese, chili, and an exciting game of football. I know I've written about Brooklyn Lager in the past, but because I included a lager in my delicious, home-made chili, I thought I'd blog briefly about the crown again.

Brooklyn doesn't offer much in terms of design on the crown, but they are good about switching up colors for their different lines of beer. Straight-up lager is green, as per below.

For those of you who didn't watch the super bowl, you missed out on an amazing game! Down to the wire rematch of Pats v. Giants. If you didn't know, I'm a hardcore Giants fan -- and have been for many years. Four years ago, though, was the ultimate: I won my office pool when you fill in those little boxes. It was insane! This year, no pool at the office, but having a housewarming party, and a delicious beer to celebrate my new home and my team winning is the new ultimate. Go NY!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

jolt - guest post by michael

Michael Lober here. When I was growing up in a small town in the lower Midwest, the principal weekend activity consisted of driving your car (or your parents' car) up and down the main street of the town. It was called cruising. We looped around the library, headed up toward the Wal-Mart, and then turned around in a turnabout by the town diner. Occasionally, when we spotted cars we recognized, we pulled over into the bank parking lot and discussed how there was nothing to do. It was a blast.

In the summer, these cruising sessions lasted upwards of five hours (gas, of course, was much less expensive then), and involved multiple trips to the nearby convenience stores. Mountain Dews were a popular stimulant of choice, but if we needed a real pick-me-up, we reached for cans of Jolt Cola. Jolt based its entire product around its caffeine content; its slogan at the time was "All the sugar and twice the caffeine." When I first consumed it, I feared that I wouldn't be able to sleep for days. But I never usually felt that differently. Its main effect seemed to be more trips than usual to the McDonald's bathroom.

Like most people, I drank Jolt only for the caffeine, not for the taste, which I must have repressed. Lauren, Caroline, Ryan, and I found a bottle in Straubs in St. Louis over the holiday breaks, and I was excited to relive a bit of my adolescence. But, as the saying goes, you can't go home again. I was disappointed to find that Jolt Cola tastes like chemicals with a splash of Coke, and has no more caffeine than coffee. I dig the lightening bolt on the cap and the funky font, but if you're not consuming Jolt while cruising the streets of a small town, then, really, what's the point?