Everybody likes the stories behind craft beer, and the vintage gadgets that go along with that beer should also have tales. In a Terryville, Connecticut factory in the 1940s, Eagle Lock Company—which was once the largest trunk and cabinet lock maker in the world—manufactured the first Eagle Cap-Offs, a fancy beer bottle opener made from aluminum and plated steel. Once the company ceased production in the ’70s, the openers became rare but are available to purchase through eBay. And people are paying $70-$225 for them. However, starting next year, the Cap-Offs will be cheaper to purchase and more prevalent.
A pair of craft beer connoisseurs launched a Kickstarter campaign on November 11, to re-create the Eagle Cap-Off in its original form. “It’s not as much about the utility, even though it does works well, as it is about having interesting accessories for things that you’re passionate about, like craft beer, just like it is in wine and cigars and those industries,” says Cap-Off co-founder Matt McGarity, who lives in Bexley Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. He and his business partner, Mike Grace (who lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey), purchased several vintage Eagle Cap-Offs from eBay and decided resurrecting the Cap-Off would fill a much-needed void in the craft beer market. Currently, there’s nothing like it out there, and there’s definitely no bottle opener with this kind of history behind it.
“I think that it looks cool,” McGarity says. “It’s got this mid-modern Industrial-age flair. It’s mechanical, which I think guys [and women] dig.”
Using one hand (or two, if you’re a weakling like me), you gently squeeze the wings, and pop off the cap. Unlike a lot of other bottle openers, it doesn’t scratch or bend the beer cap, which is a boon for cap collectors. Because the patent had been expired since 1958, the guys were able to file for registration (they have a notice of allowance), but it won’t go into effect until they start selling the openers. After they hit their $50,000 Kickstarter goal, they plan on making about 10,000 units a year. And if all goes well, they’ll have the Cap-Offs ready by late spring/summer 2016. RJM Stamping Company, a Columbus-based manufacturer, will make the Cap-Offs (American made!), and they’ll retail for $58. They have until December 11 to reach their goal, so donate now for a sliver of Americana.