By Hayley Pugh
A beer fan who has spent the last 42 years filling his home with over 9,000 cans is now SELLING his bizarre collection – after his wife put her foot down.
Retired banker, Nick West, first sparked an interest in collecting cans when his future wife, Deborah, bought him a book about beer back in 1975.
But what started as an innocent hobby for the 58-year-old soon grew into an obsession, with Nick spending hours on the internet every evening looking for new cans and forcing himself to drink several “disgusting” beers each night so he can add the empty cans to his hoard.
Nick had converted part of his house into a ‘beer can library’ – but has now packed up the cans into dozens of boxes after agreeing with Deborah that his hobby had got out of control.
He said: “Around 150 to 200 new cans each year was manageable but there has been huge growth in the industry and for whatever reason people are switching to cans instead of bottles. I’ve already bought 650 new ones this year alone.
“Everyday I go onto the internet and there are four or five new ones that I need.
“With each one a minimum of £3 each the cost is getting out of control and it’s near impossible trying to keep up with them all.
“For every 20 new ones I manage to get, another 30 new ones are added to the bottom of my list.
“I’m spending three hours a night on the internet looking for new ones and I have a backlog of cans to drink.
“It sounds like a nice dilemma to have but they only have a short shelf life so at the moment they’re just stacked up in order waiting to be drunk.
“I pierce two holes in the bottom and then pour the beer into a glass so the ring pull is still intact when they’re on display.
“Some are absolutely disgusting because they’re coming up with all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations now. Things like rhubarb flavour,
they’re just not nice.”
The father-of two has spent tens of thousands on his collection and even forked out a whopping £1240 for one of the first cans produced in Britain – a half-pint of Felinfoel pale ale.
Nick drafted in a separate moving truck for his cans when he moved home and even had an extension built at his old house to make room for his ever-growing collection.
But after he and Deborah recently retired from their jobs at Lloyds Bank, Nick decided enough was enough and has now officially quit his habit on July 13 – exactly 42 years after he got his first ever can.
He said: “My wife and I retired a couple of weeks ago so our income has been dramatically reduced. We also want to downsize.
“Our children have grown up and left home now so if it was just us two we could probably go for a two or three bed house but if I were to keep going we would need two rooms to display the cans in so then we would have to look at five bedrooms.
“Also rather morbidly my wife and kids have zero interest in it and I’m not getting any younger. When I do eventually go I don’t want to leave them with all that to sort through.”
Sadly though, the beer enthusiast doesn’t expect to get back even half of the money he has spent on his collection over the years.
He added: “I’ve been looking into it and the bottom has fallen out of the market so I really don’t know how much I am going to get back.
“I’m not going to be able to sell all 9000 to one person so the only way to get any money out of it will be to sell them individually.
“Only a couple of hundred really have any value though. They’re the older and rarer ones, the rest are almost worthless.
“Say I manage to sell 500, that still leaves me with 8500. It’s been my passion for 42 years, I cant bear just to take them down to the recycling and throw them away.
“In all seriousness I’m going to have to wean myself off it. When we go shopping I usually go straight to the beer aisle to see if they’ve got anything new in. I’ll have to change all that.
“It usually takes up about three to four hours a day but once they’re all gone I’ll have so much time on my hands.”
Deborah said: “I gave him a book just after we started going out about beer can collecting so it’s possibly partly my fault.
“In the last couple of years he has had a lot of beers because of the explosion of craft beers which have now gone into cans.
“With no more space it was looking as though we were going to be the first couple to move homes for more space for cans which would have taken up three rooms.
“Thankfully however we’re not. I didn’t force him to get rid of them, he did it of his own will and we’ll just have to wait and see how long it lasts.
“When we went to the shop the other day he didn’t look at a single can so that was a huge step in the right direction.”