For some consumers in the United States, drinking beer can be similar to a religious experience. The most refined pallets favor craft brews with origins in just about every state in the country. Drinking beer often accompanies social gatherings, sporting events, and the end to a workday.
Each state has different consumption reports depending on the consumers who reside there. In some instances, it’s been reported that residents drink about 40 gallons a year, per person. Meaning they drink about 426 12-oz. bottles of beers, per person, per year!
But what are the origins of the tool used to open up these bottles? What is the story behind the church key bottle opener, and who named it that? Read on to find out more about this useful tool and how to use it properly to open up a cold brew of your choice!
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What is a Church Key Bottle Opener?
Depending on the style and available tools on your bottle opener, its design could come anywhere from the late 1800s up to the 1950s. Over time, as bottles and openings have changed and developed, the tools used and sold to open them.
The 1890s version was a simple, handheld device used to pry off the cap or crown cork of a glass bottle, which was also invented at this time. It’s not known if these tools were called church keys back then, but the design and use remain the same.
In the 1930s, flat top beer cans hit the market, which required a tool to pierce the lid. The church key or churchkey used during this time received an additional feature of a pointed end that consumers could use to open their cans.
A few decades later, pull tabs were introduced on the aluminum can varieties for beer drinkers. However, the bottle and the crown cork are still widely available today and preferred by those who prefer a long-necked beverage.
How to Use a Modern-Day Church Key
Depending on the style of church key you have and the type of beer container you’re trying to open, there are a few different features you should be aware of with your tool.
Flat Top Beer Can
While it’s generally unlikely to find flat-topped beer these days, if you happen to find some, it can be helpful to know how to open the can for your enjoyment! In this case, you should have a church key that has a pointed V-tip on one side with a hooked feature that can grab onto the outside lid of your can.
Use the point of the V-tip and press down firmly into the flat top to puncture the lid. Then turn your can and puncture the other side of the top to allow airflow and a smooth pour of your drink.
Glass Bottle with Crown Cork
The crown cork or bottle cap opening church key is one of the most commonly used styles of bottle opener. The looped end of the church key has a flat section near the bottom of the loop, which hooks under the bottom of the crown cork.
Once the opener hooks onto the bottle cap, pull the opener up. You will break the seal on the bottle by using leverage on the top of the loop and the hooked part under the cap. After you break the seal, the bottle cap easily pops off! This style works best when you use the bottle opener with one hand and hold the bottle firmly in your other hand to avoid spilling.
Tabbed Can Opener
Some new church key styles now come with a feature to open tabbed cans for those who struggle to get under the tab. These openers have a thin, flat section that can slide under the tab. You then tilt the tab up, which breaks the seal on the can and give you more tab to grip onto to open the can fully.
Alternative Bottle Openers
Don’t have a church key or other type of bottle opener on hand? Here are some great alternatives you can use to open your beverages in a pinch:
- Paint can openers have similar design and results as a church key
- While learning how to open a bottle with a key is tricky, it works!
- Scissors can be used (carefully) by twisting them under the cap until the seal breaks
- Use a spoon to pop off your tops
- If used carefully, a lighter can be used to open a bottle but be careful not to break it
- If you have a belt on, use the buckle to pry off the cap
- Use a table or counter edge to open your bottle, but be aware that it can leave marks
- Using physics, you can use another capped bottle to open your beverage
- The strike plate of a door can open a bottle for you when used correctly
How to Choose the Right Bottle Opener
Not sure if a church key bottle opener is for you? There are hundreds of different styles and varieties available for sale for any skill level. If you prefer something more hands-on, you can pick manual versions, but if you prefer something that will do most of the work for you, there are openers for that too!
For those who desire to open their beverages, there are always new ways to make it work, so don’t be afraid to try out different things to see how you can creatively take your drink enjoyment to the next level!