Friday, February 11, 2022

Royal Enfield tool opens your beer bottle

Royal Enfield medallion inside wooden box.
I was perplexed when I opened the wooden Royal Enfield box to find 
what appeared to be a round medallion with the Made Like a Gun branding. 
Lovely. But what was it for? 

 Friends, today we depart from our usual subject of Royal Enfield motorcycles to examine a set of tools, partly obsolete, but certainly nostalgic in the hearts of most motorcyclists.

 "Church keys," we call them in the U.S. The term refers to the usually small tools that open beer bottles, beer cans or both. 

 We won't quite be leaving the subject of Royal Enfield, however, as my all-time favorite beer bottle opener is one that came to me as swag at the release of the Royal Enfield 650 twins at Santa Cruz, Calif. in 2018.

That round medallion inside the wooden box had a small magnet attached at the back, so it could stick on the refrigerator. That was the clue. The mysterious hole below the magnet opens beer bottles!

Back side of Royal Enfield medallion.
Back of medallion is a beer bottle opener.
Round button at top is a magnet to hold it to the fridge. 

It was a church key!

Proper church keys used to open beer cans as well, before the appearance of pop-tops (now properly called stay-tops because the pull tops don't separate from the can). Pop-tops came along in the 1960s.

Before then the openers were often, but not always, double-ended tools. One end took the cap off a beer bottle. The other end gouged a savage triangular hole in a beer can.

The need to open beer cans is now gone, but the bottle-opener end remains useful.

Yes, today some beer bottles come with twist-off caps requiring no tool except the human hand to open. But those beers tend to be the mass produced varieties. Craft beer in bottles will generally require a tool.

Or, if you don't have the tool handy, there is a technique you can use that involves slapping the bottle down hard with the cap caught on the edge of a counter top. I do not recommend this, but I have known it to work. Expect to get wet.

I do not claim to be an expert, but I have built a small collection of openers that appeal to me. Some people really do collect these things in earnest and in fact are experts on the topic.

For now, all I ask is that you peruse photos of my small personal assembly of openers. The captions tell the stories behind them.

Four can operns show variety.
Top two are "Quick and Easy" openers but note difference in design allowing the top opener to have a round hole so it can hang on a nail. Third down is an EKCO Safe Edge Can Opener that cleverly adds the nail hole to the curve of the end that opens bottles. Bottom opener does cans only and is unlabeled except for a U.S.A. Patent Number that dates to 1935. As a can-only opener it must pre-date the pop-tops of the 1960s.

In my appreciation for openers, one thing I have not done is to attach one of the normally wall-mounted bottle openers to my motorcycle, for use "on the road." This is occasionally seen on customized choppers and such.

While the look of this appeals to me, in practice I do not like drilling screw holes into my motorcycle.

Also, and with some regret, I personally will not ride after imbibing. I don't want the temptation to do so attached to my Royal Enfield.

Multi-use openers: cans, bottles, corks, beans.
Top and bottom are variations on openers that incorporate cork screws. The top one is labelled "Tap Boy." The middle "Miracle Roll" opener isn't really for beer cans, as it removes the entire top of a can (useful for cans of beans). But note that its lever arm includes a shape that opens beer bottles.

Longer openers let you use your whole hand.
Big openers. Unlabeled opener on left has a leather wrapped handle. Plastic opener at center has a handle that imitates tree bark and is labelled "Yellowstone National Park." Picked up by my wife's family on a trip there 50 years ago. Unlabeled opener at right looks like a fish! These are often found marked as made in Japan but mine is not. Curved Amstel Light opener at bottom is light alloy, opens bottles only, and is made in Taiwan but I like it. Like all bottle-only openers it in effect acknowledges that cans haven't needed openers in a long time.

Beer openers labelled with brewery names.
Openers labelled with brewery names. From top they are Jacob Ruppert Brewery, New York (out of business in 1965); Schlitz, The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous (its Milwaukee brewery closed in 1981); Hamm's Beer, From the land of sky blue waters (its Minnesota brewery closed in 1997, ending connection to sky blue water); Stroh's Beer, A Quality Opener For A Quality Product (its Detroit brewery closed in 1985); and Schmidt Beer of St. Paul (the Schmidt's name came down from the St. Paul Brewery in 1991).

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps the can openers aren't so obsolete after all. My wife points out that some cooking ingredients (condensed milk for instance) still come in cans that must be opened and the triangular gouge produced by a church key works fine.


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