Here’s a way to drink your beer and enjoy art, too

GOOD NEWS FOR obsessive-compulsives who save their bottlecaps.

(And, strange as it sounds, there are more of these sad cases out there than you might think, frantically separating them by beer type, stacking them in perfectly symmetrical piles, cataloging them in Excel spreadsheets, counting them over and over again into the wee hours of the morning . . . Sigh.)

Troegs Brewing Co. of Harrisburg will provide a unique diversion this summer with its Art of Drinking Troegs contest.

The challenge is to create any piece of artwork that somehow uses Troegs bottlecaps. The winner gets a custom-made bar stocked with Troegs.

The contest isn’t exactly a relief for OCDs (though, it’s OK to use other breweries’ caps, as long as they’re upside down). Brewer Chris Trogner said it’s intended to get beer drinkers thinking more about the merits of hand-crafted design.

“We were just trying to figure ways to tie ourselves with other people who are hand-crafting something,” Trogner said. After seeing what a local furniture builder did with the brewery’s new bar, he said, “We decided a hand-crafted bar goes well with hand-crafted beer.”

So, what kind of art can you do with a couple of hundred bottlecaps?

“We really don’t want to limit creativity,” Trogner said, which sounds like another way of saying he doesn’t have a clue.

Anyway, the deadline is Sept. 30. Take a picture of your work and send it to Rules are at

By the way: Here’s a simple trick for removing bottlecaps without bending them with your church key: Place a nickel on top of the cap before opening.

 Beer radar

Speaking of Troegs, the brewery will release its latest single-batch ale at the upcoming Harrisburg Brewers Fest (June 19, call 717-232-1297 for info). It’s Dreamweaver Wheat, a cross between a Belgian wit and a German hefeweizen with the same yeast strains used in last winter’s popular Mad Elf . . .

One of my favorite beer-drinking events is around the corner: the USPRO Cycling Championship. You can rub shoulders with the cyclists and down a brew next Friday at the Manayunk Brewing Co. (4120 Main St., Manayunk) from 7:30 to 9 p.m. It’s a great way to tune up for the big race on the following Sunday, June 6 . . .

Miller is producing a set of commemorative cans featuring past Rolling Stone magazine covers, to celebrate 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll. They’re big boy 24-ouncers of Miller Lite and MGD . . .

New on area shelves: Pyramid Curve Ball Kolsch, Clipper City Red Sky at Night Saison, Crooked River Kolsch Ale and Lancaster Brewing Strawberry Wheat . . .

My appearance earlier this month on Baltimore’s Beer Radio prompted a number of readers to wonder: When will Philadelphia get Beer Radio? No immediate plans, yet, for this suds-filled show. But co-host Dennis Buettner told me it’s expanding this weekend to Seattle, and “we’re definitely looking toward Philly, too.”

 Worth the wait?

Smithwick’s Irish Ale is finally pouring through town. Diageo and Guinness USA finally cleared up some strange, internal marketing tactics that had kept it from our shores (they felt Smithwick’s somehow conflicted with sales of Bass Ale).

The long holdup prompted thousands of complaints from tourists who’d tasted and fallen in love with the ale during visits to Dublin. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve gotten from beer drinkers, freshly returned from Ireland, asking where they could buy Smithwick’s in America.

All I’ve got to say is:

We waited all that time for this?

Maybe I’m missing something, but to my hopped-up throat this is a very average import.

It’s smooth, very drinkable – I imagine you could pound it all night without serious consequence.

But cripes, peel off the label and you’ve got a Henry Weinhards. When they offer you a beer like this in an American brewpub, you immediately ask, “What else do you have?”

Ah, but what do I know? No one ever went broke selling Irish ale.

It’s available only on tap, for now. If you want a glass, pronounce it “Smid-ix.”

Yuk, yuk

 From the Internet:

A man goes into a lawyer’s office and says, “I heard people have sued the tobacco companies for giving them lung cancer, and McDonald’s for making them fat.”

The lawyer says, “Yes, that’s true.”

The man says, “Well, I’m interested in suing, too.”

The lawyer says, “OK, McDonald’s or the tobacco companies?”

“Neither,” the man says. “I’m suing Budweiser for all the ugly people I’ve slept with.”

 Joe Sixpack, by Staff Writer Don Russell, was written this week with Weyerbacher Black Hole.


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