Since 1920, beverage companies and bars have been using beermats (beverage coasters) to catch condensation dripping off of a glass, all while advertising a tasty brew. The first documented company to advertise on a beermat was UK ‘s Watney brewery. The American Coaster Company gave beermats their United States debut in 1978.
Beermats are typically made from paperboard. Reportedly, 75% of the world’s beermats are made in Germany by The Katz Group. Before the 1900’s beermats were made from felt and used by the lower classes to place on top of their glasses to keep bugs and dirt from falling into their drink.
With the growth of beer pubs and micro brews in the U.S., the number of Americans collecting beermats has grown. Beverage coaster collecting is called tegestology. Similar to stamp collecting, beermat collectors are often willing to trade coasters. Facebook even has a group for People Obsessed With Collecting Beer Coasters.
Students at a UK university have taken the beermat of the early 1900’s and moved it into the era of social networking with an electronic coaster that can help you meet new people. There is even a chemically treated beermat that will change color if it comes in contact with Rohypnol, GHB and ketamine, common “date-rape” drugs.
If traditional paper beermats are more your style, you are in luck. Nowadays, it is hard step foot in a trendy shop or home goods store and not see kitschy coasters or printed beermats for sale. Even crafters have become smitten with beermats. Etsy currently boasts over 22,000 entries for coasters; over 400 of those are produced by letterpress. Here are some of my favorites.