I have a shot glass collection. Ron has a beer glass collection. They were both pretty small when we met, so when we started to travel, we decided we’d grow them with souvenirs from the places we visit.
This proved to be easier for me than for him. Shot glasses are everywhere. Beer glasses? Not so much. If a shop does have any, it’s usually just one, and it tends to be cheap and tacky crap. And if there’s one thing about Ron, it’s that he doesn’t like to waste his money on cheap and tacky crap.
Nearing the end of our first big trip together, he was disappointed that he hadn’t found a single glass worth buying. As we sat on a patio, he commented that the mug my beer had been served in was nice, and I came up with a clever idea, the inspiration for which was nothing more than a little …
It was our last day in Greece. I’d had enough to drink that I was pretty relaxed. And I felt terrible that Ron hadn’t found what he’d really wanted to take home with him. These things combined to spur me on to suggest that I ask if we could buy the Mythos mug.
Ron seemed a bit hesitant. I think he thought it wouldn’t work. But when I offered to go inside the cafe all by my onesie and ask, and he wouldn’t have to be involved at all, he told me to go ahead if I wanted to.
So I went inside to pay the bill and, showing our server the mug, asked, “Can I buy this?”
In reply, he motioned behind me and said, “You’ll have to ask the Big Guy.”
I looked behind me to see the most enormous man I have ever seen walking into the cafe. He was only average height, but his shoulders were damn near as broad as the double doorway, and the rest of him was matchingly solid and heavy.
I, in my relaxed state, said, “I take it you’re the Big Guy?” and when he nodded, I asked him the same question. “Can I buy this?”
With a negligent little flip of his hand, he replied, “You can hhhhave it,” rolling the ‘h’ sound in the back of his throat. (To this day, Ron and I both use the phrase, “You can hhhhave it,” every chance we get.)
I paid the bill and trotted happily back to our table, stuffing the mug in the backpack with a smile and a “Cool!” from Ron. And a new travel tradition was born, to be revisited the following year after some …
I am somewhat ashamed to say, this wasn’t an ask-at-the-pub thing. This was a how-did-my-room-service-glass-get-in-my-suitcase thing. But based on how much Kostritzer Ron drank at that hotel in Berlin on that trip, I’m thinking he more than paid for one missing glass. And at least during our next stop, he did behave with a bit more …
On our journey home from Berlin, we got stuck in London for a couple of days, due to a snowstorm that disrupted travel throughout most of Europe. That’s not as fun as it sounds – the vast majority of our time was spent standing in line at Heathrow Airport, trying to reschedule our flight home. But we did manage to explore a bit of the city one evening, and visit a traditional London pub. This time it was Ron who asked to buy the glass, but the result was the same, and he was given it for free.
Perhaps things were getting too easy, and that’s why Ron decided to work a bit for his next mug, from …
Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas
I was sick as the proverbial dog on this trip, so I barely left the hotel room. But one night, I did manage to wobble across the street to the Vegas version of a German beer garden. They had a contest in which participants held a full one litre stein out at arms length, parallel to the floor. Whoever lasted the longest won the mug. Somewhat uncharacteristically, Ron participated. Not unexpectedly, he won. (Ron’s a determined kinda guy.)
From what I hear, determination was required to secure this mug in …
I wasn’t on this trip to Ukraine, so I don’t know many details about this mug, other than that the brewery was happy to let Ron take it, but didn’t understand the concept of selling beer to go. Only set up to sell draft on the premises, they ended up filling a two-litre Coke bottle with beer so he could be on his way.
I think the extra effort that required may be why, the next time, it was up to me to ask for …
Tired and hungry, our first thing to do upon our arrival in Prague was to find a place for a beer and a bite to eat. On the advice of the hotel staff, we ended up at a pleasant restaurant a block or so away from our accommodations. The restaurant and hotel clearly had a bit of a relationship going and, while it wasn’t the type of agreement that got us a discount on our meal, it might have explained their enthusiasm when I asked if I could buy the glass and they told me to just take it.
It’s a happy little story that leads into another of our darker moments, with some ruby red …
I woke up one day to find this glass sitting on the kitchen counter. As I hadn’t known Ron was out the previous night, I was somewhat perplexed by its sudden appearance. When I asked him where it had come from, he named a downtown Halifax pub. I should have left it at that. Because when I asked him what they’d said when he asked if he could buy it, he got a sheepish expression on his face and mumbled something about it having fallen into his pocket by accident.
Ah, well. At least the …
… glass we came by honestly. Although clearly, someone else did not. No doubt it’s a pub glass, but we found it sitting on a sidewalk in Quebec City, with not a drinking establishment in sight. It being during the Summer Festival, when tens of thousands of people descend on the city, we’ll blame it on tourists and move on to …
Aw, crap, this is another room service find. We’re not looking so good right now, are we? But we’d had a bad day in Hamburg, and nothing makes a bad day better than that first sip of beer at the end of it. Can you blame us for wanting to bring that feeling home with us?
I know, I know. It’s a poor justification. But I feel we redeemed ourselves at least a bit with …
The glasses prior to this have been freebies that breweries provide to bars and hotels to advertise their product, and we all know that breweries factor losses like (drunken) breakage and (also drunken) theft into their production runs.
This glass does not fit that category. It’s gorgeous, good quality, and I highly doubt the bar in Nuremberg where we found it got it for free. We were more than happy to be able to buy it for only five euros.
Which leads us to one I fully intended to pay for, at …
Good Robot Brewing
This is my favourite Halifax pub. While there for brunch one day, my beer was served in this glass. I was pretty sure I’d seen them in their shop before, so when our server brought our second round, I asked if I could add the glass onto our bill. He answered that they weren’t selling them at the moment because they were low on stock, so I said we’d pick one up on a future visit. At which point he very sneakily placed the glass back on the table while pointedly looking in the other direction and said, “Or I could just not keep track.”
So while not the first glass to end up in Ron’s pocket, it was by no means an accident this time around.
And neither was …
We picked this up from a basic neighbourhood eatery in Toronto – not quite a restaurant, not quite a pub, not quite a bar, kind of a little bit of all three. You know, the type of place where the menu is printed on the paper placemats. Our server seemed stunned that we’d bothered to ask if we could buy it which, based on the clientele we saw while we were there, probably shouldn’t have surprised us. But ask we did, and we were told to take it with us.
Which brings us to …
… and, as the glass says, to the bitter end. With travel suspended for the foreseeable future, we won’t be adding anything to the collection for some time. But that’s okay, because the story behind the final glass is kind of a special one. We got it from The Black Bull in Edinburgh, a hard rock and metal bar that we loved so much, we went to it every night of our stay. A Scottish friend had recommended Punk IPA, which Ron ended up drinking exclusively. On our final night, the bar staff, without our asking, gave us two glasses to bring home with us.
And that’s what this really gets down to. The glasses may be vessels for beer, but beyond that, what they hold are memories. These aren’t glasses that sit on a shelf and gather dust. It’s a practical collection. They’re in day-to-day use, and every time we pull one out of the cupboard, we remember where we were when we got it. And while it may make doing dishes a little more nerve-wracking than usual, the resulting smiles are more than worth it.