Step in to Forager lately, and you'll be greeted by a mosaic of crowler art.
For the cans' collector, chef Pete Wilcox, it's the aftereffects of five years of memories (paired with great beer).
“It’s pretty cool to see the progression of the artwork in combination with what kind of beer is behind it,” he said. “Especially since the first year or so had handwritten logos, which was a ton of work for the brewers to make the beer, and then have to write the names on hundreds of cans.”
Wilcox, who started working at Forager about a month after opening, popped open his first crowler on a Thanksgiving around five years ago — Sherpa's Survival Kit, he believes.
“Somehow, that can made it back to my old house,” Wilcox said. “There were shelves in the basement, so I just started popping new cans up there to document the beers that were coming out at the time. A year or so later, I bought a house, which conveniently had an unfinished wall in the basement. Once I started to fill in the wall, it kind of turned into a ridiculous obsession to get every new beer that came out.”
Though the cans followed Wilcox through one move, they weren’t going to follow him to a third house — even though he was loath to recycle the stash.
So six trash bags later, more than 400 cans returned from whence they came.
Not all of the crowlers are unique — some are repeats from different batches of beer that Wilcox missed or simply liked the label from. Wilcox and co-owner Annie Henderson added some Forager logo label stickers to spell out the brewery’s name and create that “mosaic effect.”
“I have reminisced many times looking back at the art,” Wilcox said. “But my favorite is definitely the can with my face on it. Our artist Trevor (Sim) took a few pictures of me, and I had no idea what he would come up with, so I was very surprised to see a close-up of my face.”
And will the cans ever return to the Wilcox home?
“I am thinking it’s there to stay," he said. "It’s literally framed in and super-glued to the wall.”