The Belly of the Beast

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_MG_8683 whaleUpon encountering this cast iron wonder, my first impression was… what the hell?!

There is something inherently disturbing about the Whale Bottle Opener. Maybe it’s the imposing weight of the iron. Maybe it’s the shape of the ferocious whale. Or probably it’s the Mommie Dearest lipstick. Don’t leave this guy near any clothes hangers.

_MG_8684 whale  _MG_8687 whale

The Whale Bottle Opener is heavy cast iron with hand painted features (obviously!). It weighs a hefty 11.5 ounces and is 4.75 inches long. It fills the average grip.

The opener has been placed on the bottom of the whale, requiring it to be operated by feel rather than sight. The opening is big enough with a strong catch, so this has not been a big issue.

It’s debatable whether this opener’s primary goal is open bottles or just freak me out. As a bottle opener, it works well but not perfect. It often takes two pulls to pop the cap and will bend the cap with a distinct crease. But it looks terrifyingly awesome and does get the job done.

Is it ridiculous or ridiculously bad-ass? You must judge for yourself.

_MG_8690 whale



Does it open? It feels firm in the hand and does the trick.

Can it open anything else?  I would imagine it could crack a few skulls. If dropped into a sock it could be spun overhead and hurled like a sling. If dropped into a pillow case, it could also clear out the showers in the average prison brawl. If that sounds too violent, perhaps you’d prefer to roll it upside down and use it as a planter for your herb garden.

Overall rating: 3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5). This opener is strangely awesome to look at and does pop the caps with a couple tugs. It’s a worthy addition to any kitchen countertop.

References: Whale Bottle Opener

IMG_2677 whale


Category: Bottle Openers

The Mystery Wrench

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_MG_8697 wrench

There are many hazards to getting older. You have to stretch before running. You stop growing vertically and start growing horizontally. Hair grows in places where it doesn’t belong. But perhaps the worst is the sudden memory loss. I like to think I’m not so old that my brain is disintegrating, but here is a case where it has let me down.

Sometime in the last year or two I acquired one of my favorite openers. It’s a cast iron wrench bottle opener. It is perfectly weighted and feels strong and sturdy in my grip. It pops the cap with ease and never falters. But where did it come from? Was it a gift? Did I find it in a store? Did I order it from the internet? Did I find it on the street? Beats me – I couldn’t figure it out.

There are no markings on the opener and an internet search reveals no others like it. I wrestled with this for a few weeks trying to remember.

The mystery wrench weighs a nice 4.75 oz and is 6.5 inches long. It is well-balanced and feels like a piece from a good toolbox. The slotted opening fits firmly over the cap and opens without slipping. The backside can be used to pry off a cap and works successfully after a few tugs. It works, but doesn’t add a lot of value except perhaps in the case where a non-standard crown cap is being opened. I always use the slotted side.

_MG_8699 wrench

I was using the wrench to open my beer on the patio and then it hit me. Literally. I was splayed across the ground and woke with a knot on my head. After drinking the rest of my spilled beer to regain my wits, I looked at the wrench and remembered. World Market. I was probably buying some Dad’s Root Beer or some British chocolate bars when I found this opener. Searching the web, I found this as a discontinued and unlinked item on their site called a Tool Bottle Opener. The page said it was handcrafted by artisans in India. The same craftsmen who brought us sandalwood elephants, dancing cobras, and call centers. The Indians know their stuff and they made a fine bottle opener.

_MG_8731 wrench


Does it open? The opener feels great and works great. It’s a champ.

Can it open anything else?  As a wrench it isn’t functional at all. A good whack on the head might cure a case of amnesia or cause even more memory loss. From my experience, I think it’s best to dedicate it to beer bottles instead.

Overall rating: 5 Stars (5 / 5). This has been one of my favorites and my default go-to opener. I have no idea where it came from, but I’m glad it found me.

References: Tool Bottle Opener



Category: Bottle Openers

The Ultimate Refrigerator Magnets

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I have a refrigerator in my garage. It’s full size and dedicated to beverages.

Yes, I’m a high roller like that.

If you’re equally blessed to have a beer fridge, you know how inconvenient it can be to pull a cold beer for your patio guests, only to find you’ve left the opener in the kitchen. Herein lies the beauty of magnetic openers. One is always handy. And if you’re going to get a magnetic opener, you might as well go big time and get a beast like the stainless steel Bottle Opener Fridge Magnet by Suck UK. Pair that with the Magnetic Bottle Cap Catcher by Starr and you’ve got a fridge armed for any kind of evening.

Starr Magnet_MG_8371_magnets

The Fridge Magnet Bottle Opener is a large 4-3/4″ x 8″ with a sturdy grip on your refrigerator. I’ve had mine for years and have never seen the opener slip. The magnet on the back is rubber and promises to not scratch the surface of your appliance.

The Magnetic Bottle Cap Catcher is a marvel in both its simplicity and its performance. It’s a 1.5″ round magnet with a mounting screw that you could use to mount it on the wall. Mounted below the opener, the catcher pulls a falling cap like a tractor beam and holds it firm. The product claims to hold up to 20 caps at a time, so there’s no need to find the trash can after each open. I’ve seen it catch more. To remove a cap from the stack, you have to peel them off. The magnet has an impressive grip.


Mounted together, these dudes provide a nice one-two punch. The opener pops the cap every time and catcher never lets a falling cap hit the ground. I’ve heard a few knocks on the opener. The biggest seems to be its ability to stick. Perhaps there are quality control issues at the manufacturer, but I suspect the biggest variable is the surface of your refrigerator. Mine feels cemented to the fridge. The opener is also positioned at a rough angle. The beer is practically horizontal as you pop the cap and usually spits a bit of foam. If yours is mounted in a kitchen, this might be problematic. Since I could care less about my garage floor, I don’t pay any attention to this. Besides, I’ve just opened a beer and duty calls.


Does it open? The opener holds tight to the fridge and always pops the cap. The catcher never fumbles.

Can it open anything else?  The Cap Catcher could be used to open up the odds in a knife fight if positioned strategically around your body. I offered to paste a few of these on my shoulders and have my kids throw knives at me to see if the magnet would pull them away from my chest. The kids were afraid of hurting me and would not participate. I asked Emily to assist and she smiled a bit too enthusiastically. This made me nervous and I canceled the experiment.

Overall rating (opener): 4 Stars (4 / 5). This has been an old reliable opener for me. It spits a bit, but opens the bottle every time.

Overall rating (catcher): 5 Stars (5 / 5). There’s not much to this and if you can find your own super-magnet, it may equally do the trick. But this sucker works like a champ.

References: none

IMG_2667 magnet




Category: Bottle Openers

Tiki God Bottle Opener

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_MG_8648 tiki

No trip to the beach is complete without a trip to the souvenir shop. If you walk past the suntan lotion and sunglasses, go behind the shelves of towels, turn left at the bikini coffee mugs, you’ll see a shelf full of shot glasses. And somewhere just off to the right you’ll find an assortment of bottle openers. Some are shaped like sharks. Some look like flip flops. But if you’re in a particularly classy beach shop, you’ll find the tiki.

In March we visited Padre Island National Seashore and Port Aransas for our Texas spring break. When we visited Moby Dick’s, it didn’t take long to sort through the impressive kitch bazaar for me to locate the prize. The tiki god called out to me.

_MG_8642 tiki         _MG_8644 tiki

This opener from Beachcombers looks great. It literally stands 5-3/4 inches tall and weighs a smidge over 4 ounces. It feels balanced in the hand, although it could use a bit more weight to be truly satisfying. It is made of resin and I’d be skeptical that it could survive a full year of regular use without chipping. But let’s face it, nobody buys a bottle opener like this expecting to keep it in a tool chest.

As a tiki opener, I have high expectations. As we sat on the balcony and listened to the sea, I rubbed his nose before I popped the caps of my Shiner Blacks. I expected the gods to bathe us in sunshine the next day and treat us to free rum. Instead we got clouds and 40 mph winds.

_MG_8656 tiki

Clearly this is an opener to be respected and possibly feared. It continues to open bottles for me on the first pop every time, but I no longer rub its nose.


Does it open? With a decent grip, this opener does the trick.

Can it open anything else?  The skies. Fear the fury of the rum gods.

Overall rating: 3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5). This opener is not perfect, but it looks great and does its job. I’m concerned about its longevity and ability to hold onto its good looks, but only time will tell.

References: none


Category: Bottle Openers

Hand Forged Bottle Opener

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I’m a sucker for fine tools. Especially hand forged steel ones. Through pure luck, I stumbled upon the Hand Forge website and found this beautiful forged steel bottle opener, with a copper rivet and leather strap. Each piece is created individually on the anvil and finished by hand by Lyle Poulin. According to their site, the steel is heated to 2000 degrees when hammered into shape. Steering wheels get way hot here in the Texas summer… but surely those tap out at 200 degrees (it’s hard to judge as the nerve endings in my finger tips burn off by late June).

_MG_8391_forgedHand Forge offers a monogram option and promotes their products toward groomsmen gifts for weddings and other high tone occasions. I wanted mine naked for everyday use and am very pleased with the result.

The opener is about 4.5″ long and fits comfortably in my hand. It weighs a smidge under 3.5 oz (100g) and has a satisfying sturdiness to it. It pops the cap on the first attempt every time. The finish is great and looks like a work of art, while serving as a very practical tool. The fact that this is hand forged is both its highest merit and its lone shortcoming. Handcrafted products cost money to make and aren’t cheap. Whether or not this is worth the price tag depends on whether you’re a fanatic (like me), are buying a gift, or have some extra greenbacks lying around. For me, the opener is well worth it.



Hand Forge also sells this forged keychain bottle opener. Keychain openers are a unique breed as they’re intended to work in a pinch, but not usually effective for daily use. The primary reason is the simple fact that your keys will often get in the way. This opener is 1.5″ x 2″ and is very solid. It will usually pop the cap within two lifts with a full keyring. With its weight and size, I honestly don’t feel like the keys are in the way as with lighter, flimsier keychain openers. It’s also a good looking slug for any keyring and has become my grip for pulling keys out of my pocket.

It can be ordered with the shown design or plain.



Does it open?  Definitely. The full size opener is quite effective. The keychain opener is a little less effective due to its small size, but still works great.

Can it open anything else?  Let’s say you’re walking down an urban street after a long pub crawl and make a wrong turn into a dark alley. You find yourself cornered by thugs in ski masks. The odds are certainly stacked against you. But then you reach into your back pocket and find a Hand Forge bottle opener and slide the leather strap around your fingers. You swing the opener like a black jack to ward off the first attacker and your opportunity begins to open up. However, the other two thugs close in quickly and…

Nevermind, you’re safer staying home and using this to open bottles of beer.

Overall rating (full size opener): 5 Stars (5 / 5). This opener is finely crafted and is an impressive tool to grip and admire.

Overall rating (keychain opener): 4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5). The keychain opener is also very well made and easy on the eyes. It feels right on the keychain and works well. Keychain openers always have their limitations, but this must be near the top for this family of opener.

References: Hand Forge website



Category: Bottle Openers

Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag

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While waiting for a prescription to be filled, I roamed across the parking lot to a neighboring antique store. I found two awesome bottle openers. The cheap one was $65, so I had to pass. Who knew there was money in old bottle openers?

Although I struck out on openers, I did find this little leather bag. It looked like a good pouch to dump all the loose openers I have stuffing our kitchen drawers. The upside is it serves its purpose well and looks great. The downside is it is already full.




Category: Bottle Openers

Jumbo Steel Opener

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Let’s rewind the clock six months. It was the end of August in Texas. A sweltering day like any other summer day in Texas. We were invited to the Bolding household to hang out on a Saturday at their new house. We would enjoy some drinks, good eats, and surely have a good time. Little did I know I would have my first encounter with the ultimate heavyweight bottle opener.

On their counter, was an old opener, quietly waiting for the next drinker to use it. I marveled at its weight, size, and effectiveness. No measly bottle cap could ever stand up to a beast like this. I learned the opener was very old, acquired from unknown lands. I knew then I would have to find one of my own.

IMG_2628 jumboI believe eBay was put on this planet for a reason. It’s primary purpose is to help our hero find obscure crap from around the globe. After twenty minutes of browsing and playing with different keywords, I found my mark. [Note: “vintage” and “large” turned out to be the winning combination]

Two weeks after the initial sighting, I held in my hand a similar model named Kap King crafted Midland Park, New Jersey mailed in from Tennessee.

This jumbo steel warrior is about 10.25″ long and weighs in just under a pound at 15 ounces. My version handled itself like the cool professional I met at the Boldings two weeks earlier. With a quick flick, the cap exploded off my Shiner Black. Over the next several months, countless more caps fell victim. I don’t recall ever needing to pull twice… this one delivers on the first try, every time.



Does it open?  Every time. No bottle is a match for this titan.

Can it open anything else?  Melons. Drywall. Windows. Heads. KapKing smash!

Overall rating: 5 Stars (5 / 5). This opener works and delivers a wow factor that will attract attention from even the most apathetic houseguests.

References: M-63 in JFO type index.


Category: Bottle Openers

Beer Cans on the Bookshelf

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beer book2

I spent a good chunk of my childhood roaming the streets and wooded paths of rural Pennsylvania seeking out old beer cans. Over the course of the late 1970’s, I amassed hundreds of cans proudly displayed along our basement walls.  Besides the standards of the day, I found many antique cans, rare cans, novelty cans, and exotics from Europe.

Enter this 2011 book titled Beer: A Genuine Collection of Cans. This is a visual catalogue of Josh Russo’s collection as photographed and cataloged by Dan Becker and Lance Wilson. The book itself contains sparse amounts of text introducing particular cans or series of interest, but is mostly photographs. The photographs include nearly 500 cans from 30 countries. This collection includes a lot of forgotten brands, old labels from current brands, bizarre and eccentric pieces.

beer book3

For me, it is a walk down memory lane. The book itself is stark and simple, but beautifully designed and a nice addition to any coffee table or bookshelf.

beer book5

My beer can collection has been collecting dust in my parents’ attic for the past 30 years. This book was a great way to go back and relive the memories of many of them, without bringing them home and putting a marriage at risk.


Does it open?  Yes – as all books do.

Can it open anything else?  Your mind.

Overall rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5). A great piece of nostalgia and design. This book is a welcome addition for those who appreciate the history of beer or collectors of cans.

References: None


Category: Books

Peep Jousting

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Veering a bit off topic, I thought I should share the traditional Easter celebration known as Peep Jousting. Each Easter, we end up with more sugar in the house than we can handle. At some point the sugar buzz alters our judgment and war games are conducted for our mallow-thirsty amusement.

_MG_8522 peeps

We selected four contestants at random from our box of gladiators.  Each gladiator is armed with a toothpick and a taste for mayhem. There is not much coaching of the contestants, they must stab the other peep before being stabbed. The first to get lanced, is the loser. May the best Peep win!


_MG_8535 peep1

The first contestants enter the turntable, with lances raised high and ready for battle. On the left is Sir Peepsalot and on the right is Yellow the Brave. They are slid into the microwave and nuked with power set to maximum and turntable rotation disabled. The battle begins. The Peeps expand and puff out their chests.

_MG_8540 peep1

This first battle doesn’t last long – maybe 20 seconds. Sir Peepsalot on the left expanded enough to drive his lance through Yellow’s chest cavity. The right Peep began to roll as it was taken out.  After taking them out of the microwave, they began to shrivel immediately. In this shriveled state, the results are very clear. Sir Peepsalot tasted victory, while Yellow the Brave only tasted death.

_MG_8543 peep1



_MG_8537 peep2

Soon after the carnage was cleared from the turntable, two more gladiators enter the Arena of Swollen Death. Fred the Sweet takes position on the left. Lord Puff holds position on the right. Both lower their lances before the battle begins.

_MG_8545 peep2

The arena photographer tried different lighting techniques for this round to try to capture the glory and the gore. Each peep stares down his opponent. Nobody blinks. The microwave is started and the battle ensues.

_MG_8546 peep2

Less than 20 seconds pass and the battle is over. At first it appeared to be a draw, with the gladiators tasting simultaneous death. However, the photo finish above shows Fred the Sweet managed to lance Lord Puff an instant before Puff’s lance delivers its death blow.

_MG_8547 peep2

As with any war, there are no true victors. Except of course for the mallow-thirsty fans who eat the gladiators.

References: Using hard science, the Smithsonian did extensive research to determine whether a stale Peep held any advantage over a fresh Peep in jousting. Read the article from 2010.

_MG_8553 peep3

Oh the humanity!

Category: Mayhem

Behind Enemy Lines

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In the heat of of a crowded party, bottles are popping out everywhere. Guests demand an opener that can handle the pressure and deliver in crisis. Enter the die cast Army Man bottle opener.

This guy is built of hardy construction with a nice weight to it. It is modeled after the old plastic green army men, with good detail on all sides.



It opens a bottle with the quick, easy stroke of an assassin.  However, the operation may be counter-intuitive to some guests.  Most bottle openers nest under the front edge and lift to pop the cap.  This soldier sets his gun under the far side of the cap instead.  Push down on his legs and the caps pops on the first try every time.




This reliable solider measures about 4.25 inches long and weighs about 5 ounces. It’s a great conversation piece and an effective bottle opener. It feels very well made, but I already see some scratches in the paint after a relatively short usage.  I’ll be interested to see how this guy looks after he’s aged and engaged in a few more battles.


Does it open?  Yes.  It is very reliable.

Can it open anything else?  The metal soldier is tough enough to shatter a bottle, but small enough that I wouldn’t recommend trying. He might be better served as a weight to prop pages open in a book.

Overall rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5). This is a great novelty opener. There may be some confusion on how to use at first, but when used correctly it works great.

References: None.



Category: Bottle Openers