An auction, five bottles and ten sides
Breweriana. It sounds like such a magical place. You know; take a wrong turning back from the toilets, open a suspiciously-wardrobe-like door and you're there. A lion sings and fonts spring forth and spout the best beers in the world....
Oh. Wait. I see what I've done there. That's not what breweriana is.
In essence, it's anything with a brewery or beer brand name on it. And when I say anything, I mean anything. Pumpclips, labels, adverts, windows... breweriana encompasses a broad beery church. As I've mentioned before, collecting doesn't really float my boat but last weekend saw curiosity get the better of me. CAMRA were holding their annual breweriana auction just down the road from me in Burton, so I thought I'd tag along and see if I could snaffle a bargain.
Perhaps a long-lost crate of King's Ale? One of those salmon-pink porcelain mugs so beloved of Orwell, going for a song? A quick shufti at the list of lots revealed lesser splendours for my tastes, but I still thought it was worth a crack.
Burton's Town Hall was fairly quiet and it seemed clear that many in attendance were usual faces at these kind of events. Local MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, Andrew Griffiths, gave a rousing introduction about how vital brewing was to this country; sadly I didn't get the chance to talk High Strength Beer Duty with him. Another time, maybe.
There were a few early lots that I had an eye for. Sadly, the price of a few books and a rather bizarre Gibbs Mew 'Blue Keg' plastic advert sign soon spiralled beyond my limited budget. It's tempting to get auction-fever and pay over-your-own-odds for something; likewise, to bid and buy anything for the sake of it. But I wasn't being saddled carrying a Tetley's Mild pub window home on the train with me. Close call, though...
A disappointing day? Far from it. I'd arranged with auctioneer Mike Peterson to collect some commemorative bottles I'd bought from his collection. They'll find their way into the Christmas stockings of friends, although I'm keeping the Home Brewery D.H. Lawrence Centenary Ale - you take the toper out of Eastwood, but you'll never take Eastwood out of this toper.
And, in a great twist of fate, I actually bought something from one of the stands which I'd have happily bid for. A ten-sided handled glass, bang-on my budget. This one being stamped 301 for the West Riding of Yorkshire. Which is why I'm drinking Timothy Taylor Landlord out of it tonight and really rather enjoying it.