Gentleman Scholar

How Does a Gentleman Open a Beer With No Bottle Opener?

A video guide to improvisational bottle cap removal.

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Please find below an instructional film built to instill a modest sort of fratty savoir faire. We are today exhibiting a few unconventional means of opening beer bottles, a practice dating to 1892, when William Painter invented the bottle cap before getting around to inventing something to pry it off with. The Oxford Companion to Beer notes that early trade-magazine ads for the bottle cap—known to cognoscenti as the crown cap or crown cork—featured “illustrations depicting its easy removal using ordinary household implements such as knives, spoon handles, and even corkscrews.”

However a fellow opens his beer, he must then rise to the challenge of delivering it unto his beer gut. The drinker will treat himself to a finer experience of flavor by pouring his brew into a glass, a move that will also please the eyes of onlookers who think it déclassé to drink straight from the bottle. On the other hand, the majority of the beer purchased in this country has no flavor, and a lot of the most stimulating places to drink it have no class, so whatever.

Let it be noted there are no means of opening a beer remotely so dramatic as slicing the neck of a Champagne bottle with a saber—a technique that is literally cavalier in style, supposedly, its invention ascribed to French hussars of the Napoleonic era. It should go without saying that the art of sabrage is best left to experts, but quixotic idiots are welcome to buy a $300 knife from Williams-Sonoma and practice at home. Also, I see that the Baroness, a wine bar in Long Island City, Queens, encourages its patrons to saber their bubbly. It should go without saying that this column recommends donning safety goggles before setting foot in that establishment.