Friday, June 3, 2011

The Session #52: Breweriana

Like most former 30-somethings, I was initially seduced by the ease and grandeur of the internet. This reciprocally led, of course, to my e-Bay period. You know what I’m talking about. I mean, you can pretend that you don’t know, but you’d be lying. Anyway, while others focused on things like favorite childhood toys (Thundercats, for example), I went in for Olympia beer paraphernalia. Why that? Mostly because my grandfather had worked for Olympia back in the day—I remember getting the all access tour as a kid and being blown away by the size of the tanks. Plus, we got to check out the sweet falls pictured on the label. Anyway, because of this, Olympia always felt like family.

Can you see the family resemblance?

The initial thing I went to e-Bay looking for was a “Powered by Oly” patch. It featured a keg with smoke and dust shooting out behind it—as if it was a car peeling out really fast. Both of my brothers and I had these patches on our overalls as kids. Nothing like rocking the Oly patch on our OshKosh B’goshes. Looking back, it does seem kinda odd to have a beer patch on the clothes I wore to school, but, after all, it was the 70’s. Anyway, I looked and looked, but could never find one. But there were tons of other cool Olympia merchandise. So I started buying it. The quirk to my collecting was that I generally mailed whatever I bought to other family members—sweet glassware and pitchers went to my brother with the kegerator, while I doled out hats, Hawaiian shirts, t-shirts, sweaters, patches, bottle openers, bottlecaps and all kinds of other crap to everyone else. I even had family friends ask to be included on the list I used to pass stuff out. While I kept a few things for myself (like this sweet beer can hat), most of it went elsewhere.

Two things led to the end of my e-Bay collecting. One, I realized I was spending far too much time trolling e-Bay for esoteric purchases. After all, since I lived in the Northwest, the vast kinds of arcane beer and hydroplane paraphernalia was well-nigh overwhelming. But the real nail in the coffin was when the old tanks from the Olympia brewery started showing up on e-Bay. Yep. Seriously. After using the Olympia brewery for years to brew all of the regional beers it owned (which was, at this point, all of them), SABMiller decided it was time to shut down the brewery and move production to a newer and out-of-state facility. Now, while I knew this was happening, I didn’t realize that all of the liquidated stuff no one wanted would end up on e-Bay. And it kinda drove it all home. So while I still have a couple of my e-Bay finds, I’ve moved away from the collecting. Although I do want to end on a happier note: the coolest thing I scored from my days with e-Bay were 300 unused Olympia beer caps, most of which I’ve subsequently used on my own beer. Now that’s awesome!


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