When I first got into beer I was introduced to a whole world of merchandise that I wasn’t ever aware of. Going to a beer fest and strolling up to a breweries table you are not only getting your glass filled with a beer but you may be lucky enough to have free game of a number of items of swag. Stickers are probably the most common item you will see but now coozies, bottle openers, buttons and coasters have become regulars at the brewery booth. That last one will be important later on. Of course I was taking a lot of these items. Many of them were cool and, most importantly, they were free. I didn’t need any of these little trinkets but I grabbed them anyway. Eventually I realized I didn’t use most of this stuff and gave it all away to friends or trash cans.
With that said take a figurative walk with me. You walk into a bar/brewery and take a seat at the bar. The bartender approaches you and flips a coaster in front you while inquiring as to what your poison will be. I don’t really like that (pick your poison) saying but it popped in my head and I opted to just use it. Sometime after you order they return with that delicious beverage that you absolutely needed. They place it down on that little, thin piece of cheap cardboard and you are a happy camper. Now imagine looking at that small piece of compacted paper and thinking to yourself “I want this and about 3000 more of them.” You are now looking at the world of coaster collectors.
There are troubling segments of people in every culture. Pro wrestling has idiots that wait at the baggage claims in airports accosting wrestlers for tons of autographs that they just want to sell online for a profit. In geekdom there are people that think the Star Wars prequels were good. But this group of people in beer that collect coasters scare me. Probably in a completely irrational way but this is my blog, get your own.
I am sure that even within the coaster collectors segment there is a breakdown as well. There is likely very nice, simple people who are happy to come about a cool looking coaster to put in their binder at home for safe keeping and to reminisce over. They don’t want to bother anyone with their hobby and stay to themselves. But not everyone is like this.
Then there are collectors that will write a brewery (like actual snail mail) asking for you to give them a few of any and all coasters you may produce. In exchange they will almost always give a self addressed stamped envelope. This envelope will, more often than not, not be big enough to fit coasters into (think standard mailing ones) or does not contain nearly enough postage for the weight of the items they want or both. If you are lucky you may even sometimes receive a crisp, cool $1 bill “for your trouble.” Their actual words, not mine.
Without getting into too much detail about how this “wonderful gesture” of $1 doesn’t even cover the cost of the the amount of coasters they want fulfilling their request opens up a whole other can of worms that will be coming your way shortly. Why? Because once you satisfy one of these they go on their coaster collecting forums and tell everyone else that you fulfilled their request and within a couple weeks you are flooded by dozens more of the same shit. This time they usually have a photo copy of the coasters you gave the first person specifically asking for those ones. What the fucking fuck is this shit!?
One brewery I work at we literally stopped fulfilling these requests and put coasters for sale on our website store. If we are going to go to the trouble they can pay a real price for the coasters and pay the full shipping. Not all of these folks would be so “kind” as to offer you that $1. Many just expected you to send those coasters in a standard envelope with 1 stamp on it. Not happening anymore.
Look, I get collecting things. I collected comics and baseball cards and could probably be considered a glassware collector right now despite my fiance’s wishes but I went to actual businesses and purchased said items. I didn’t write a business looking for a handout to increase my collection clout. And honestly I just don’t get coaster collecters. They don’t even use them as actual…coasters. At least I use the glasses that I’ve collected for their intended purpose.
What I’m saying is if you want to collect coasters then fine, do it, but don’t bother a business looking for something for nothing. The folks at a brewery who have way more patience than me (you’re saints by the way) that appease these requests likely have more important things to do. Check a brewery’s website and see if they are selling some coasters and buy them that way. Or, if you really need to be stingy, see if there is a fellow collector in the area of the brewery that can stop in and get you a few. Usually if you ask a bartender nicely they’ll give you some unused ones. Then your buddy can mail you those things for your binder.
Collecting is fine. Collectors can be fine too and I am reviewing collectors, not collecting, so these particular collectors just don’t sit well with me.