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The love of brewing binds members of Southeast club

by: David F. Ashton, Part of Norman Irby’s breweriana collection is this Busch “beer chalk” and stein.

As we walked into the springtime gathering of the Cascade Breweriana Association, we couldn't help but think, 'Beer, beer everywhere, and not a drop to drink!'

The tables in the VFW Hall on S.E. Fern Street were laden with beer labels, signs, tap handles, steins, posters, and T-shirts, as the association's quarterly swap meet got underway.

We learned that the members of the Cascade Breweriana Association, which was founded in 1978, are dedicated to the collection, the history, and the enjoyment of beer-related items.

Norman Irby, vice president of club, said, 'Our swap meet draws people from all over the Pacific Northwest. In fact we have members here today from the Rainier club in the Seattle area. Most of our people are from the greater Portland area, but collectors come from as far away as Eugene.

There are about 125 members in the local club, said Irby. It's a regional chapter of the national Brewery Collectibles Club of America.

'I collect a lot of different types of things,' Irby explained. 'I first started with steins. But I've since gotten more into collecting 'beer chalks'.'

A 'beer chalk', he explained, is a figurine representing the logo of a particular brewery.

'I'm from Milwaukie and I ought to know,' said Rich Horrocks with a smile, 'but that's spelled with an 'ie' on the end.'

Horrocks, a long time member of Cascade Breweriana Association and a board member of the national association, said this is a 'full-time hobby' for him, and that he started collecting beer cans in 1963.

'No, I wasn't old enough to drink then, but my dad emptied out a lot of cans for me. Then I sold the beer can collection and got into 'breweriana' - posters, lighted signs - it can be anything related to the promotion and marketing of brewed beverages.'

Breweriana, Horrocks told us, is a hobby that brings out the best in people. 'It's a lot of fun to intermingle and see the collections. One might collect Rainer; another might collect Blitz, or breweriana from the microbrewers. We try to help each other, and pick up different items that other members would enjoy.'

As he picked up items from his table, and told about their origin, Horrocks handled each piece of breweriana as if it were a museum piece. 'You just got to love it, huh?' he says with a wide grin.

The Cascade Breweriana Association holds four swap meets each year, where anyone can buy, sell, or trade all of beer-related items, Horrocks said. 'We have an award-winning newsletter that we send out before each meeting. It has articles on local brewing history, rare collectibles, and memorabilia.'

The local club doesn't have an Internet website, but for more information, visit online: www.bcca.com.

The membership dues are just $12 per year, he added. If you're interested, give Horrocks a call at 503/653-0312 for more information.