You save craft beer bottle caps and show them off in glass vases and giant liter steins, but what are all those caps going to do, besides collect dust? Meet Nate Custer, the artist behind Beer Cap Choppers. Based out of West Virginia, Nate transforms craft beer bottle caps into spectacular motorcycle art. Always crafty, Nate decided to merge his love for craft beer with his artistic talents and completed his first beer cap chopper approximately three years ago. He hasn’t stopped since — about a few hundred choppers by now, he figures — even receiving commission requests from craft breweries themselves. While each chopper varies, he likes to have approximately 20 beer caps handy to perfect each of his stylish choppers. Nate admits that he could probably make a hurried-version of his choppers in less than an hour but prefers to spend several hours on each, tweaking different details and improving his designs. His choppers always change ever so slightly. “I’m always perfecting my craft,” Nate explains. “Every time I make a chopper, it is usually a little better than the previous one.” How does he open his bottles and keep the caps in such great shape? Nate swears by CoLAB Bottle Openers, which Nate describes as great bottle openers that never damage caps. We linked up with Beer Cap Choppers on Instagram a handful of months ago, and Nate was kind enough to “crack open” and share his food/beer (Chocolate Covered) Memories …
How did you find yourself in this niche of the food/beer art world? What led you to bottle cap art?
Since I was a little kid, I have always been making things with random objects. I had a large collection of caps and started making different sculptures and shapes. Eventually, I had an idea and made a basic one with Sierra Nevada caps. I had a few pics posted on Instagram but didn’t post often and only had around 30 followers. The Instagram user @brewtographer saw my work and really liked it. He shared with his followers, and it took off from there. Everyone should check him out on Instagram. His pictures are awesome, and you may even see some of my work on his feed.
Any child/teenage food industry jobs?
All through college, I worked at a restaurant — started off busing tables and did every job there. Eventually I managed the restaurant.
What are your earliest childhood memories of food?
My earliest memories are from Christmas time and both my grandfathers. On Christmas Eve, my grandfather’s charcoal grill and the huge fire in perpetration for his steaks. On Christmas, my other grandfather’s spaghetti and meatballs.
Where does your love of food/beer stem from?
Working in a nice restaurant all through college, I learned to appreciate good food. My brother is a big part of this also. He introduced me to craft beer.
What foods remind you of childhood?
Grilled cheese. Soup.
Favorite beers when you started drinking beer?
Miller Lite and Yuengling.
Favorite beers now?
I’m a big hop head and enjoy mostly IPA’s. A couple of my favorites are Troegs Nugget Nectar, Bell’s Two Hearted & Hopslam and anything from Stone. Unfortunately we can’t get the majority of good craft beers in West Virginia. My trusty “go to” beer that is available here is Sierra Nevada Torpedo.
Any specific food memories/stories that you want to share?
A funny story about our Great Dane, Daisy. I gave her a sip of an IPA I was drinking several years ago, and she loved it. She is a beer snob and will only drink good hoppy beer. I gave her a sip of my Victory Dirt Wolf last week, and she loved it. When I offered her a taste of my friend’s light beer, she turned her nose and wouldn’t drink it. She has good taste!
Any childhood cooking accidents in the kitchen?
I was waiting tables and tried to grab a tray that another server was dropping. As I reached out and grabbed the tray, a mug of boiling water dumped out on my arm. I was on my way to a big table to take their order. I looked down and saw my arm blistering. It happened to be a table of doctors, so it all worked out.
What do you think of big industry beers (Bud, Miller, Coors, etc)?
They have great advertising departments.
Do you ever drink such brews? Why/why not?
Before I discovered “good” beer, I drank Miller Lite. If I was really thirsty and there was no water … Sure.
What family recipes do you want to share with us?
My grandfather’s sauce and meatball recipe was passed down from my ancestors in Italy. Enjoy!
Nathan Custer is the craft beer-loving artist behind Beer Cap Choppers. Born and raised in West Virginia, Nate lives with his girlfriend Kristina, their new daughter Kya and their two dogs Daisy and Gus. The official Beer Cap Choppers website will be online soon. In the meantime, follow him on Instagram (very active) & Twitter (not so active). Yes, Nate accepts commissions. Send him an email at email@example.com to order your custom-made Beer Cap Chopper now …