By Bill Howell, for the Redoubt Reporter
It might be a guy thing, but I love gadgets, and the cooler the better. And as much as I love any gadget, I really love a cool beer gadget. There are more cool beer gadgets around than you might think, so let’s cover a few of the better ones out there.
Now, I’m not going to write about glassware. No matter how fancy it is, it’s not a gadget. Nor am I going to write about fancy stainless-steel growlers, even though these days some of them are sophisticated enough to be considered gadgets. I already covered that topic a few columns ago.
First off, let’s talk bottle openers. You might think them too simple, but there are two out there that I’d say qualify as gadgets, even if they have no moving parts. Start with the Sears Craftsman Model No. 44500 Cap Wrench Bottle Opener. Yep, you heard that right — a bottle opener made by Craftsman, just like your socket and box-end wrenches. This is the sort of gadget any manly beer drinker will love, and it’s only $14.99. I received one as a gift from a good friend, and I love using it. It also doubles as a club during bar fights. …
Not as useful as a club, but just as nifty is the German-made Hermetus Bottle Opener and Resealer. The resealing function is what sets this gadget apart and can also be used for a wide range of pop-cap bottles, in addition to beers. One simply flips over the implement and, using the metal guides to grip the rim at the top of the bottle, slides a rubbery panel over the opening to ensure a tight seal over the beverage — preventing the contents from going flat or spilling even when turned on its side. It’s only $8.95 for this clever little gadget.
If you’ve just poured yourself half of a 22-ounce bomber and you’re worried about the remaining beer going flat before you get back to it, how about some reusable bottle caps made from food-grade silicone? Kegworks makes these Beer Saver Bottle Caps and sells them in packets of six for only $6.50. They re-seal the bottle until you’re ready to finish it. After use, just toss them in the dishwasher and they’ll be ready to go when you need them again.
Now let’s talk virtual gadgets, otherwise known as apps. There are tons of beer-themed apps out there, as any quick online search will show, but I want to highlight a couple that I think are a cut above the rest.
One app I use all the time is the electronic version of Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Guidelines. These are the standards judges use to evaluate beers entered into competitions. While you might not be a beer judge, you still might be curious about the typical characteristics of a particular beer style, especially if it’s one of the more unusual ones. In situations like that, especially if you’re out at a bar or brewpub, this little app can come in mighty handy. Best of all, the price is right — it’s free!
One of the newest and most interesting apps is called simply The Beer Up Here. This app is a mobile field guide to all the breweries in Alaska. Besides having information on and photos of each of the breweries in our state, The Beer Up Here will also let you keep track of and rate any of the Alaska beers that you’ve tasted. It will also link to some of the other sources of information on beers in Alaska, and receive information about new beers as they’re released. This should be a good and useful gadget for any beer lover in Alaska who is also an iPhone user. Look for it on iTunes at $4.99.
That’s a quick look at what I think are some of the cooler beer gadgets available today.
Don’t forget that the third annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival will take place this Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Soldotna Sports Center from 5 to 10 p.m. Admission tickets are $30 per person, on sale at Kassik’s Brewery, Kenai River Brewing, St. Elias Brewing and Seward Brewing Company. Admission includes a commemorative sampling glass and 10 drink tickets. Last year’s festival sold out completely and made over $17,000 for local charities. This year’s event will be even bigger, with 16 different breweries from around the state, plus beers from around the U.S. and imports from around the world. So get your tickets for this year’s festival in advance so you can be sure of enjoying the delicious food, live music and great beer.
Until next month, cheers!
Bill Howell is a home brewer, teaches a beer appreciation class at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus and was named the 2010 Beerdrinker of the Year by Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver. He and his wife, Elaine, have released a book, “Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska — Volume I: Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island Breweries,” via Amazon.