News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 7, 2013

Collection of ‘the million-dollar flavor’

Terre Haute man’s Champagne Velvet collection earns recognition from beer’s maker

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A Terre Haute man’s passion for collecting Champagne Velvet memorabilia has earned him recognition from the new maker of the resurrected beer.

John Becker saw a photo contest posted on the Facebook page of Upland Brewery, so he pulled together just a few of his many CV bottles and memorabilia that he has collected through the years, and submitted a photo that earned him top honors.

“I started collecting in high school, before I was old enough to drink beer,” Becker told the Tribune-Star on the eve of Champagne Velvet’s return to Terre Haute on Saturday, “and I usually get a few items a year at most. But a few items over 30 years, it adds up.”

Indeed it does. Becker has numerous bottles and screw top cans in a collection that also boasts displays of bottle openers, pins, signs, a sliding knife, and other memorabilia with the stamp of Champagne Velvet, or CV, as the logo goes. His most unique item — a fingernail clipper stamped with the logo.

Many of the items are yard sale finds. Some come from antique shops and malls. There’s quite a bit of it on eBay, he said.

Becker — no relation to the Henry Becker who operated a local brewery prior to Prohibition — has also collected a variety of CV boxes, both wooden and cardboard. Interestingly, he has found some of the boxes by going to auctions where a prior owner used the CV box to store papers or knickknacks. The box was just a container to someone else, but not to Becker. Its contents get discarded while Becker keeps the box.

As a collector, Becker also has an interest in other local memorabilia.

“I’ve tried to limit my collection to Terre Haute and Vigo County, because it’s very easy for you to fill up on this stuff,” he said.

On Saturday, Becker was standing curbside at 14th and Wabash when the Upland Brewery beer wagon pulled up outside Sonka’s Irish Pub with the first kegs to be delivered. He shared some CV knowledge with Mike Rowe, the local businessman who found an original CV recipe and brought new life to the brew “with the million-dollar flavor.”

And as the beer wagon continued on its way up Wabash Avenue to the Cooper Bar a few blocks away, Becker was riding along — adding a memory to his memorabilia.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.