The Common Table knows beer. This is not up for dispute. But anyone who has been there for a live show or to one of its Untapped Festivals knows that music plays an important role for the Uptown drinkery. So it makes sense that for its new rare bottle menu, Bootlegs and B-Sides, Common Table turned to music to sell the beer.
It’s a little unorthodox, but the Bootlegs and B-Sides menu is an entire vinyl album — jacket, sleeves and all — featuring seven different album covers spanning the musical spectrum from ’60s hippie love to ’80s metal to contemporary indie rock.
The Common Table worked over a six-month period with local design firm Caliber Creative to come up with covers that would work. Caliber ended up creating 15 mocks that were eventually pared down to seven after some intense scrutiny.
“We were only going to create six,” says Common Table owner Corey Pond. “But we had such a tough time with it that we went for seven. The only direction I gave Caliber was that I wanted one that had a unicorn on it, and it ended up looking like a cross between Mötley Crüe, Pink Floyd and Judas Priest.”
The Common Table has worked with Caliber on its Untapped branding in the past, and the firm has helped on design aspects of Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Craft & Growler.
“They know beer,” he says, “and from working with them on the beer and music festival, it was a natural way to head.”
But a rare bottles menu is only as good as the content inside. With a selection of 40 beers from across the country, including Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, Firestone Walker Parabola and Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, the content is good. There's even a 1.5-ounce pour of Sam Adams Utopias available.
The menu is printed on the sleeve, wrapped around actual vinyl, advising drinkers that “You gotta know your stuff to browse this list.”
The selection dates back to Common Table’s opening in 2010, when Pond began putting away rare bottles he came across.
“Most everything on the menu is either really hard to get or it’s been aged for several years or both,” he says. “We finally reached a critical mass where we could do a menu.”
So far, Pond says the bottles have been selling better than expected, and he may have to update the menu sooner than he anticipated even while stashing more rarities as he goes. He doesn’t want to have anything on the menu that he doesn’t have available, but then album sleeves are a little more complicated to create than the typical menu.
"We won't reprint until at least two or three are gone," he says. "It will be the end of the year, probably early next year. There aren't that many of these beers out there."