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Built NY Bottle Totes
Based in New York City, Built has constructed a design empire on a simple product from 2004: a two-bottle carrier comprised of strong, flexible, stylish neoprene. Not bad for a company that’s scooped two Golds in Business Week’s annual Industrial Design Excellence Awards and cites MoMa as a retailer. All we can guess is that the market must certainly be thirsty.
Built’s six-pack tote is a natural fit for any proud, picnicking beer advocate. Sporting two contrasting colors or prints (pick for sleekest combo: wood grain black print with slate), the sturdy wetsuit workhorse insulates six 12- to 20-ounce cans or bottles within its hugging niches, as the fabric stretches to fit its contents. And although they may be seen mostly as wine carriers, the totes for larger bottles are more than perfect for large-format beers, from a 40-ouncer of cheap nostalgic refreshment to a treasured 750-mililiter Belgian brew. One-bottle, two-bottle and three-bottle options abound—the latter particularly notable for its gorgeously sculptural silhouette.
For the especially rugged-minded (or, ahem, drunk or clumsy), the Overbuilt line for one- and two-bottle schlepping is “virtually indestructible,” with thicker neoprene, industrial zippers and an abrasion-resistant, diver-worthy fabric. Odds are you’re no more dangerous than coral reef, so you should be safe. [Available from $12 to $30 at builtny.com]
Three Sheets to the Wind: One Man’s Quest for the Meaning of Beer by Pete Brown
The premise: A British beer journalist, author and—above all—drinker, realizes that England is not the alpha and omega when it comes to beer culture and consumption. Cue colorful backgrounds of German breweries, Australian pubs, Spanish tapas bars and Japanese enthusiasts. Traversing over 300 bars and 13 countries on the journey, the bloke goes on a worldly pub crawl with plenty of laughter, learning and libation along the way. Scene.
In fat paperback format and that unmistakable recycled paper, this is the quintessential beer beach book. Not quite chick, but Brit, lit. From a chapter titled, “The smell of freshly poured beer is the smell of my country,” to more-than-half-page footnoted asides, from sentences like “I stop at a stall, pass on a deep-fried snack advertised as ‘cheese crack,’ and order some frites” to Lost in Translation-esque mishaps, it’s a guilty 460-pager of beer travel porn. Yeah? Start reading. [Available for $17 at amazon.com]
Inflatable Floating Swimming Pool Cooler
It’s a classic dilemma that transcends time: How can one enjoy both the placid pleasures of water submersion and a waiting beverage at immediate hand? Sometimes, well, jumping out of the pool (or lake, or ocean, or white water rapids) to fetch a drink creates an inopportune pause to soothing liquid inertia, an engrossing conversation or mere comfort of constant body temperature. And, besides, the water is fine.
If you’re not too shy to bust out an inflatable floating swimming pool cooler in its entire shiny, dorky, royal blue splendor, you’ll be on your way to making lots of drinking, wade-bathing friends. Unfurling from a handy shoulder-strap carrier, the 3-pound cooler inflates (ready, lungs?) into a deliciously monstrous contraption that carries up to 18 cans in the insulated core and six labeled cup holders positioned on the surrounding inner tube. So instead of emerging thirsty from the water, dripping on your fellow guests while reaching simultaneously for a towel and a bottle opener, you can leisurely reach over for refreshment with the water lapping gently about the shoulders.
Now all you need are a set of floating wireless speakers and one of those elaborate man-is-an-island pool chairs, and your swimming situation will be completely souped-up for summer. Except, you know, the ultimate in pool luxury: floating urinals. [Available for $29 at kegworks.com] ■