Crazy for Craft
A Peek at the Berricana Collection of Juan Lozano
There’s no denying that craft beer has taken over Charlotte in recent years (lucky for us Queen City residents!), but there’s one man who has been a super-fan way before it was all the rage ... and he’s got the collection to prove it.
Juan Lozano, a banker by trade, has been into craft beer (or as he puts it, craft beer has been “into him”) for about 24 years. His passion has morphed into quite an impressive “Beericana” collection of craft beer paraphernalia that includes over a thousand items.
In 1995, Lozano expanded his beer knowledge as part owner of a Charlotte equipment store. He remembers when Dilworth Brewing and The Mill Bakery and Brewing were some of the first Charlotte breweries in the 1990s. But almost before they began, the glory days seemed to be over.
Lozano says, “After that, the craft beer scene in Charlotte went dormant for a long while. The time for craft beer in Charlotte had not arrived.”
During this quiet time, beer-lover Lozano frequently traveled to cultivate his love of craft beer. During each trip he would pick up some memorabilia. Sometimes it was a tap handle. Maybe a neon sign. Occasionally, he would add a full bottle of beer to his collection. Before long, Lozano’s collection was impressive, including over 1,500 full bottles of beers!
These days, his bottle collection is on display at several of the local Duckworth’s restaurants. Lozano’s home collection (known as “Bitter Times”) is perhaps shortsightedly referred to as a man cave by some. Lozano says, “It goes beyond that. It is a place of history, of sights and scents. It is a place to reminisce as well as to create new memories. It is a place for friends and family to enjoy a nicely hopped, mildly chilled, craftily designed, wonderfully pleasing and deliriously aromatic beverage. It is the perfect place.”
“It is a place of history, of sights and scents. It is a place to reminisce as well as to create new memories. It is a place for friends and family to enjoy a nicely hopped, mildly chilled, craftily designed, wonderfully pleasing and deliriously aromatic beverage.” ~Juan Lozano
Lozano’s favorite items in his collection relate to hops. A true “hophead” before the term was even coined, Lozano and his wife traveled to the hop regions of the world, including Yakima, Washington, Kent, England, Plzen, Czech Republic, Hallertau and Germany to visit hop farms.
“Many times we would spend days in the region visiting and sometimes working as unpaid volunteers at the farms,” Lozano says. “We met many families for whom hops has been a way of life for centuries.”
Lozano’s collection includes a room dedicated solely to hops … including hop china from the late 1800s and an early 1900s English hop-pickers basket.
With his love for hops, it would seem that his favorite beer must be a hop-heavy choice, but asking Lozano to pick just one type of beer is cruel and unusual punishment.
“I am asked that question many times, but honestly I cannot give an answer,” he says. “Can you really select? Beer is such a perfect companion to life and life’s challenges. If you ask me the question prior to my first beer of the day, versus the last beer, my response will change. If you ask me the question after a long day at work or during my weekend, my response will change. My favorite beer is the one that is bold, that allures and pleases not just the palate but the mind.”
Lozano is amazed at the ever-growing craft beer scene in Charlotte and loves that he no longer has to travel afar to get his hands on great beer. He says there is a challenge to continue the growth, not just in number of breweries but in the quality of beer. He also speculates that breweries that do not produce comparable quality of beer may not survive. And while Lozano is aware people are concerned about a potential “beer bubble,” and even worse, the bursting of that bubble, frankly, Lozano doesn’t seem all that concerned. As Lozano puts it, “Over the next few years, the only bubbles about to burst are the ones at the top of everyone’s pint glass.”
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