The world in beer caps


Humans are, as we know, hunters and gatherers by nature. Depending on individual personalities, this can result in varying degrees of chaos. In my case, the result of my gathering is a jar that sits on a shelf collecting dust. For several years now, I have been adding beer caps to that jar from just about every trip I’ve taken. Most of them are from beers typical of the place I was visiting. Some are simply from beverages I’ve liked.

But at this year’s CBC in Philadelphia, I met some people who offer something much better than a dusty jar for all those bottle caps. Keith, Katie, and their friends at After 5 Workshop produce beer cap maps, which make collecting bottle caps more aesthetically appealing than ever. Keith, the company’s CEO, gave me a glimpse into the world of his wholesale business.


How did it all start with After 5 Workshop?

I founded the company in 2004 after I began selling plans for a home bar that I had created in college. I had a lot of people ask about it and thought about how I could expand into not just selling plans but things that are crucial to a bar like glassware and accessories. It evolved from there.

Where does the name After 5 Workshop come from? Sounds like it was a hobby after work at first?!

The name stems from a woodworking passion. I’ve always been very much into crafting functional pieces made from wood, anything from tap handles, to wooden signs, to the beer cap maps, to making small furniture. And you’re right I really do a lot of that in my spare time, a majority of it being after work and on the weekends.

I’ve gotten to know you and Katie now. How big is the team working at After 5 Workshop?

It’s a small team but always growing! When I began the company it was honestly just me. We have grown up a bit and now currently have 15 full time employees. It really is a family. We all have a lot of fun at work.

What was the first product you produced and sold? Was it the beer cap maps?

Starting as a business, it all stemmed back to woodworking. In college, as I mentioned before, I had made this one really awesome bar (that now has a home in our office lobby) complete with a beer cap tabletop and fish tank feature, just a piece I was really proud of. I had a lot of people asking about it, so I decided to sell the plans.

Once you started selling the maps, what was the very first map you sold?

The USA beer cap map, and it’s remained a bestseller. I think it’s appealed to so many because of its ability to showcase caps from all over the nation. I do love the single state maps and the idea of drinking local, but getting to enjoy beer from every corner of the country is something that I think everybody loves experiencing and displaying.

Do you produce the beer cap maps yourselves? And is there a reason why you only use birch plywood?

We do produce the maps in our own workshop in Oklahoma City. We currently have multiple lasers in house and they are always running. Our birch plywood is 100% American sourced. We tested about a dozen different woods when we were getting started, from solid wood, to generic plywood, to imported stuff. The birch we currently use is milled to our specifications. It is a little thicker than you’d otherwise see, and it is less prone to breakage. So, it provides the highest quality product for our customers. We have found that the American birch seems to be more durable and looks great. It even has that awesome cut wood smell after it’s been cut.

Are you planning to extend your product range in the future and sell other products than beer cap maps as well?

Currently we are focused on beer cap maps, but we actually can offer other custom products such as steel growlers or wood tap handles. We also have a few other ideas that we will be debuting in 2016, but we’ve got to keep those ideas under wraps for right now until they are ready for launch. We know that the beer world is always evolving and we constantly need to stay a step ahead of the curve.

Have you had any extraordinary orders for custom work so far?

We are currently working with a number of customers to create their own unique beer cap map shapes, tap handles, and wall art using their logos and artwork. We’ve got one wooden wall art piece that we’re working on right now for a beer distributor that will take up around an 8′ x 8′ area on the wall when it’s done. It should be pretty amazing and eye catching for their customers to see.

The maps are perfect for collectors and lovers of different beers. Is it correct to assume that you and your colleagues are quite fond of beer as well?

Definitely! I really enjoy visiting new places, and wherever I go I like to explorer the local beers of the region. There are so many great beers everywhere. Everyone at the home office also has their favorites. We have a bit of friendly rivalry because everyone seems to be fond of something different. It’s really a great time to be a beer drinker in America. It’s a golden age for beer with so many new breweries popping up each year.

Do you, personally, have any beer favourites?

I love a lot of variety. Some of my current favorites would be Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, Chimay Blue, Ommegang Abbey Ale, Rogue Chipotle Ale, Strange Cherry Kriek, Breckenridge Vanilla Porter Nitro, Anthem Arjuna, Great Lakes Nosferatu (still dying to try their Christmas Ale), and New Belgium Abbey Ale. I could go on about all the great beer out there.

On your website, you say that you are a supplier of wholesale gifts for men. Do you think it is that strictly a matter of gender? Or could you maybe see that changing in recent years?

I see it definitely evolving. It does currently seem to be a male dominated industry, but I have seen so many passionate women who love beer and want to be involved with the craft beer scene. Over the next few years I have a good feeling we will see more and more women interested in craft beers and our products.


Well then, cheers to such a great time for beer drinkers (not only in America) and to the new ideas we will be seeing from you this year!

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