'Brewseum' collection's 700 beer bottles hold 30 years of memories

Posted at 9:18 AM, Oct 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 15:26:57-04

CINCINNATI -- For Charles Flatt, there are no more bottles of beer on the wall.

The Forest Park resident recently gave away his collection of 700 beer bottles, which once lined floor-to-ceiling shelves in the basement of the home he shares with wife Stephanie Turner.

"Put simply, it's time to say goodbye to that part of my life," said Flatt. "I've been collecting off and on since the mid-'80s. We're moving out west, and I really didn't want to haul them again."

Flatt said he stored the bottles in boxes until he moved into his bi-level home in 2008. Turner suggested her husband display the bottles in a room in the basement since they had the space.

"This is just part of Charles," she said. "He is a collector. If you are going to have it, glory in it."

Turner even had a custom sign made for the room as her husband's collection grew.

"I think I came up with the name 'The Brewseum,' but it might have been Stephanie," Flatt said. "Regardless, she's the one who had a Brewseum sign custom-made for me for my birthday. That there is true love."

Flatt said he had fond memories attached to many of the bottles.

"I'm keeping some of my absolute favorites," he said. "These include a bottle of Romulan Ale, given to me by fellow 'Star Trek' fan Jennie Hughes, and a bottle of Radeberger, which was brewed in East Germany."

Flatt said the most interesting bottle label in his former collection was for Tongue Extraction Stoute, a home brew given to him from a friend.

Flatt said some bottles also reflected his tastes, noting he considers himself an adventurous beer connoisseur rather than a snob. 

"I'll drink cheap beer," he said. "But around 1987 my friend Dave Hughes, who later started the Warehouse nightclub, opened a can of Top Hat, sipped it and said, 'Charles, does this taste OK to you?' I tried it, handed it back and said, 'Dave, that's turned to vinegar.' I never drank Top Hat again."


Flatt said it took months to find a home for his bottles. At first he tried to sell them and then decided to give them away as moving day approached.

"I have to thank the members of the Facebook group Greater Cincinnati Craft Beer Society," Flatt said. "They responded positively to a plea I posted, wanting to find someone to take the collection. If not for them, I'd have had to recycle 700 memories -- I mean, bottles."

Most of the bottles went to a fellow collector. Chris Breeden, the general manager of Arnold's Bar & Grill, also took a few after seeing the post.

Oldenburg Brewing Co. bottle at Arnold's.

"We were pumped to get a few of the bottles," Breeden said. The bottles are currently displayed in the bar. "We got some real old ones but probably my favorite was an Old Bock Beer one from Oldenberg Brewery. The label's design just screamed the 1990s. We were honored that he let us have a few and assured him that they would be on display here basically forever."

Flatt said although there was some sadness in letting go of his collection, he found more joy in sharing it with others as he prepares for the next phase of his life.

"Several of the bottles also went to friends because they're the ones who helped me out," Flatt said. "And friends are why we drink beer. Now it's time to let it go."