The Beer Peen Hammer

There are few people I know who care about beer as much as Michael Kiser, the proprietor of Good Beer Hunting, a website that traffics in all things related to the combination of water + grain + hops.

Kiser serves the beer industry from within—whether that’s through creative services, consulting, or facilitating partnerships between breweries and coffee roasters. Safe to say, he’s a man who knows a thing or two about—and enjoys the finer elements of—alcohol (his studio, at right, is proof enough).

But even more importantly, he’s fiercely committed to storytelling, with beer merely acting as the vehicle.

This was true in the profile of Lawson’s Finest Liquids he wrote for the Mad River issue (about one of Vermont’s hardest-to-find brews). It was true when he graciously invited me on the GBH podcast to talk about slow journalism. And it’s true even in the old-world objects he finds along the way.

One of those is The Beer Peen Hammer, a hybrid bottle opener inspired by an old machinist’s tool he and a friend discovered at an estate sale in Philly. The cutout on the face of the hammer seemed like it might just bee the right size for popping the top off a beer bottle. Sadly, the dimensions were just off.

So he decided to make his own.

First, the crew designed and fabricated plastic models with a 3-D printer, adjusting the measurements just enough to get it to perform the desired function but otherwise staying true to even the tiniest blemishes on the original hammer. With the help of Leitelt Brothers Inc., a casting foundry that’s been in south-side Chicago since 1908, they then created several different metal versions: first an aluminum prototype to test the functionally, and finally in bronze—with a black oxidized finish that will slowly reveal a patina over time. (Over on the GBH site, there are some gorgeous behind-the-scenes images of glowing hot metal behind poured at the foundry.)Last, Kiser worked with Chicago’s own Stock Manufacturing Co. to create a waxed canvas tool bag worthy of the hammer and its backstory.

The Beer Peen Hammer is hefty and serves its original purpose well. Use it to bang a nail into a wall to hold the art you’ve been meaning to hang. And when you’re done, use it to open your beer. — Seth Putnam