This is GBH's biggest product launch to-date. Nearly a year of development went in to this beauty, and we're proud to finally be holding this solid bronze bottle opener in our hands. Introducing the Beer Peen Hammer.
About a year ago, our resident musician friend, Andrew Thiboldeaux, handed me an antique ball peen hammer he'd found at an estate sale in Philadelphia. "I think it's a bottle opener," he said. After a few trials, we determined that it was close, but alas, it was not made to open bottles. Hammers like this had an opening in the head to save precious metal, and perhaps operate as a an alternative torque wrench. Opening bottles was just beyond its literal grasp. But with the help of some skilled friends, we were willing to bet we could re-design it to do just that.
We started by measuring and modeling the existing opener and creating a digital file so that we could tweak the geometry just right. We printed numerous plastic versions on a 3D printer, a Makerbot, with our 3D partner, Tim Haley of Tangible Inc. We tweaked the handle, the grip, the proportions of the head. We were as faithful as possible to the original inspiration — even some of its smallest imperfections.
From there, we milled an aluminum prototype to ensure that it functioned properly, and did the job of popping bottles effortlessly. With the bulk of the weight in the head, and the interior space dialed in to the millimeter, we were perfectly balancing form and function. Next stop, Paul Leitelt of the Leitelt Brothers foundry on the south side of Chicago.
Paul was an amazing guide. At the foundry, we were able to compare different metal alloys for strength and appearance — we wanted something that would be popping bottles open 5o years from now, and we wanted it to age gracefully like our original inspiration. Bronze gave us the strength we needed, the weight that made it feel balanced in the hand, and the black oxidized finish would gradually reveal the bronze underneath, little by little with each use. In other words, you'll have to drink for it.
We made a first run of 250. To give it a proper place to live, we commissioned our friends at Stock Mfg Co. in Chicago to help us develop a custom waxed canvas tool bag. Being a legitimate ball peen, it only felt right to treat this thing like the hammer it truly is.
After all that, we're excited to bring you the Beer Peen Hammer, labored by GBH & Co. A tool that your grandfather would recognize — but one that you will enjoy in your own way, for years to come.