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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Billy Beer

Billy Beer
There are several TV shows today that have people bringing in old and or strange stuff and finding out it is worth a lot of money.  My favorite show of this genre is “Pawn Stars.”

Pawn Stars is about a pawn shop in Las Vegas and it always shows interesting things that people bring in.  Sometimes these items are worth a lot of money.  Sometimes people think they are worth a lot of money and they end up disappointed.

If I had to pawn or sell something to dig up some extra cash I would be in trouble.  I don’t think I have anything that is particularly valuable.

I have an old Mickey Mantle button in good condition that cost $5 in 1956; that might be worth $25.  I’ll bet my 1957 autographed copy of “The Mickey Mantle Story” would be worth a pretty penny if that prick Freddy Deroda hadn’t stole it before his family moved out of town in the dead of night.  I have a few old coins, but other than that nothing the Pawn Stars would be interested in.

I thought I made an astute purchase in 1978.  In 1978 our President was Jimmy Carter.  His brother Billy Carter was a real character.  He was a beer guzzling good old boy from Georgia.  Billy didn’t have a lot of money.  In 1978 he capitalized on his reputation and slapped his name on a contract for a brew called “Billy Beer.”

I immediately bought a six pack of Billy Beer and put it away in my closet.  This beer was not to be consumed, oh no, this was an investment. 

The young Cranky was going to make a fortune. 

Buy a six pack of beer, sit on it for 40 years and in retirement pull out an unopened six pack of very rare Billy Beer, find a collector, and I would be in high clover.

The problem with this investment was in 1978, young Cranky was very poor; paycheck to paycheck poor.  In the 1978 economy of Jimmy Carter a lot of people were poor and a lot of people didn’t even get a paycheck.  In 1978 unemployment was 9-10%, wages were low and prices were through the roof.  It was called stagflation, that rare economy of stagnation and inflation.  I was at least lucky enough to have scored a mortgage years before at 7%, because during stagflation mortgages were 12-14 percent and rising.  


The day came in 1979, where I had little or no money, and a heavy hankering for a beer.  I consumed my investment.  I saved the empties for a while, but ultimately tossed them figuring their value would be next to nil.

I have often berated myself for not saving my investment.  I have wondered how much my lack of discipline cost me.

It is now thirty-six years since I consumed my investment.  I recently Googled “Billy Beer” to see how much my thirst cost me.  In 1978 that six pack of beer cost me $3.65.  Today it is worth about $20. 


It seems I was not the only one who thought Billy Beer would be a great investment, and most of the other investors had enough self-control to hold on to the brew.

Now I am glad I drank mine!


  1. I think you made the right choice

  2. Pawn Stars is on the TV here a lot. Too much.

  3. Just yesterday we were talking (briefly) about how stone broke we were in the seventies. Had more to do with putting wife through school (it was University, you call it "College") and about all I had to my name was a honkin' big stereo system. I should have bought gold instead, since it was trading at around thirty bucks an ounce.
    It would be worth nearly ninety grand by now. *sigh*
    Oh, to be "young and stupid". It sucked.
    Mind you, the receiver still works, and I've had its enjoyment for the last nearly forty years, so I guess it wasn't such a "bad investment".
    I think the missing out on the gold purchase is the one thing that makes me want to hang onto the stereo though. I don't think I'd get any takers if I wanted to sell it. :(

  4. haha. i remember those days. i was in high school and the gas shortage and the inflation...

  5. I remember Billy Beer. You really did make the right choice.

  6. I had a sixer of JR Beer, which according to experts is worth about what you can recycle the aluminum for.

  7. You made the right decision Cranky. I would have drank the beer too.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  8. How did Billy Beer taste--any good?

    1. Not bad, I think kinda Pabst or Schlitz like. When you are thirsty and broke it always tastes good!

  9. If you enjoyed your Billy Beer then you're still ahead of the game. I used to watch Pawn Stars but now it's more about the cheezy script between the characters than it is about the items.

  10. I've had a lot of different beers where the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc tasted pretty good. It was just getting that first one down that was so difficult. Did you have your Billy Beer(s) after drinking a few others that were more palatable first?

  11. Pawn Stars and Storage Wars aren't bad shows. It took awhile to figure out Pickers was a show somewhat like them. I saw Pickers in the TV line up and thought ewww gosh. :) Now IMO all three beats 12 hours of the Antique Roadshow and Lordy on Saturday the 72 hour telethon.

    Dang on the $20 beer. I'm wondering does beer get better with age like wine?

  12. My husband loves those shows. It is sad sometimes that people have to pawn their family heirlooms.

  13. I hope that beer was as good as the sparkling California champagne from 1978 that my mom has in her basement. One of these days, somebody's going to crack open that bottle of vinegar...

  14. My first mortgage was 1969, 6 3/4. But my biggest memory is my mom and her CD's over 20% interest. I believe the last one she bought didn't come due until the late eighties. She hated the new rate.

  15. Your investment was probably better than my son's. About 15 years ago, when he was just a little kid, he became obsessed with Beanie babies. All his allowance was spent on them, and we'd go all over the place hunting down the rare ones. He amassed quite a collection...that is now sitting in a Rubbermaid tote.

    But who knows...the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are making a comeback - why not Beanie Babies?

  16. I like to watch Pawn Stars; it is interesting to see how people think they have something of worth only not to. I think you were wise to drink the beer when you did. I do remember those days of Jimmy Carter with high mortgage rates, etc.

    Closest thing I had of worth but threw it away was the book "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini. When he originally wrote it, he published it himself. He lived close to where we lived at the time in Montana. He would self promote the book, going to libraries, bookstores, etc., putting on a presentation about the book and hoping people would buy the book.

    My daughter at the time (this was 2002/2003) was into books like this so when I saw that he was going to be at the library, I thought we would go to the presentation. I knew nothing about him other than he was a local author promoting his book.

    He did a nice presentation; we bought the book. He autographed it for my daughter.

    She read about half of it and because of some problems she was going through at the time, she lost interest in the rest of the book and it sat for a long time in her room. After she left, another long story for another day, I was cleaning out her room and saw the book. It was autographed. I thought "no one is going to want this book" I THREW the book away. Shortly after the book got picked up by a book club. A few years later I heard that an autographed copy of the original book was going for $5,000.........

    Oh well.........


  17. The wife invested hundreds in beanie babies 'cause some ninny investment hack claimed it was SOLID. She bought 'em for $5-10 each, sold 'em a couple years ago in a lawn sale for about 25 cents each.

  18. Ha ha, wonder if aging helped the taste. I do remember Billy Beer but never swilled one. Wonder what happened to Billy?


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