I adore all kinds of craft beers, and two characteristics are guaranteed to get my attention: 1) limited availability, and 2) beautiful bottle artwork. I like to collect bottles, but usually toss them because they end up being less like artistic decor and more like dust-gathering clutter. As such, I look for creative ways to use the bottles I really want to keep. Ommegang’s Game of Thrones series adorns our table, and they’re often filled with Halloween flowers and Christmas candy canes during a given season. My husband and I also used an assortment of bottles to designate tables at our wedding reception.
So when Bell’s Brewery announced The Planets last year, I knew the bottles had to be mine. Not only were these one-off beers (my reviews of each are below), they had lovely artwork that was ripe for crafting. My initial goal was to build a mobile, but I realized pretty quickly that seven bottles would be difficult to hang up and keep from banging into each other (I’m sure it’s possible, but it was more effort and money than I was willing to spend). So, I decided to hearken back to my school projects of yore and create a diorama.
This was a lot of fun to plan and craft over my year of collecting each bottle. I added Oberon to the mix to give the solar system a sun, and I looked at various photos to chart the planets’ place in orbit as best as possible. The bottles are glued on a 20 x 24″ flat mat board, and my husband and parents have all asked where I plan to put this in our apartment. “Somewhere,” I insist. Details, details. But wherever it ends up, I had a blast making it, and was happy to preserve these bottles in a more creative fashion than stacking them on a cabinet to be forgotten and dust-covered.
One of the best parts of making this diorama, of course, was drinking the delicious beer inside each bottle. Here is a brief review of each brew, in order of release:
- Mars: this and Saturn were probably the best in the bunch. Mars was a very smooth DIPA, a good blend of hoppy and malty. It also wasn’t too aggressive given its 10% ABV. 4.5/5
- Venus: I feel that this was a good idea that needed some fine-tuning. I was excited to try a beer with apricot and cardamom. Unfortunately the apricot juice overwhelmed any other flavors. A hint of apricot and a bit more cardamom would go a long way. 3/5
- Mercury: this was a good Belgian pale ale – no more, no less. 3.5/5
- Jupiter: this was a stronger cousin to Bell’s Best Brown. A little maltier than your average brown ale, but not too strong. 3.5/5
- Saturn: tied with Mars for best of the bunch. This was a smooth barleywine with excellent caramel flavor. 4.5/5
- Uranus: this was good in the way that I find all black IPAs to be good. Good blend of roasty and hoppy. 4/5
- Neptune: this was almost like a kitchen sink stout with all of the ingredients, but they all came together very well. The cayenne and licorice came through the most. I wish I had bought some extra to age for a year. 4/5
If you tried any or all of The Planets series, what did you think?