Beer T-Shirts Are The New Band Shirts

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Beer T-Shirts Are The New Band Shirts

Despite my affection for high-tech fabric and the myriad performance values of merino wool, nothing will ever dethrone the iconic cotton t-shirt. The comfort is simple and pure, and the aesthetic is timeless, an aesthetic that has—until recently—been largely dominated by “the band shirt.” But I’ve noticed that “the beer shirt” is taking over—at least among the ever-growing craft beer-swilling population.

Venerable logos like the Dead Kennedys, official tour shirts of AC/DC, bootleg Fugazi merch—even that awesome Crystal Gale shirt worn by Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights…the band shirt has long reigned as a way to announce, in a few quick words or a burst of color, where you stood in this weird world of ours. And the more worn-in, the more abused, the better. The only rule: you didn’t wear a band’s t-shirt when you went to see the band in concert.

Now it’s all about the beer. And with good reason. Breweries have stepped up their game in the art department, introducing fun naming conventions and funky labels (respect, Evil Twin). And, as with an esoteric band, wearing a brewery shirt communicates that you dig beer (even to those who don’t know the brewery) and that you even have a clear preference on the type of beer you prefer (to those who know what’s up). I’ve had a bartender at a free hotel happy hour see my Odells IPA t-shirt and apologize that all he could serve me was a Killian’s Red or a Bud Lite.

Even if it’s a cool macro-brew t-shirt worn with a bit of hipster irony, it’s still an indication that beer is more than just part of your day. It’s a defining part of your life, much like music. And it’s also one of the better souvenirs to snag after a brewery tour, unless you’re still collecting trucker hats and bottle openers.

As for the old concert and band shirts? I still have them, and I wear ‘em on occasion—music melds with beer almost as seamlessly as bikes. But you can find more than a handful of sweat-stained punk and hardcore shirts—the kind I used to wear so earnestly back in the day—on sites like The Captains Vintage and Defunkd selling for upwards of $600. Prices, in other words, that probably exceed the white whale beers on your list.

It’s doubtful brewery shirts will follow that path. But I still think it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t wear a brewer’s t-shirt when you visit their tasting room.

Check out the gallery for a quick round-up of a few of my favorite brewery t-shirts…