UK man boasts world’s largest collection of Newcastle Brown Ale bottles worth £10,000

A Geordie beer lover reckons he has set the record for having the world’s largest collection of Newcastle Brown Ale bottles.

Michael Hewitt, 41, has spent the last three years amassing dozens of bottles of the iconic brew which all have rare limited edition labels.

He now has 130 bottles and cans - most of which are unopened - stacked in his home and is just 20 away from having a complete set.

Some of the more valuable bottles include a 25 Squadron F3 bottle, valued at £200.

A limited edition ‘Sid the Sexist’ bottle - from the Geordie adult comic Viz - is also worth around £200 and a Silver Star label bottle is worth £250.

His oldest bottle dates back to 1928 when the brewers first started using the now iconic blue star on the labels.

In total, Michael says his collection is worth up to £10,000 and he plans to write to the Guinness World Records once he completes his quest to track down every bottle.

Michael started his collection during lockdown in a way to pay tribute to his native Newcastle upon Tyne which he left 16 years ago when he moved to Scotland.

The dad-of-three, who lives in Motherwell with his wife Lisa, said: “During lockdown I just started collecting the different limited edition bottles.

“I set myself a challenge to collect them all and now I’m about 20 bottles away from completing the whole set.

“It’s quite a niche market and I know of most of the other collectors and I’m confident no one has more bottles than me.

“If I’ve got the biggest collection in the UK then I’ve definitely got the biggest collection in the world.

“Social media has made it easier to get hold of things. A lot of the bottles have been kept by the same people for a long time.

“A lot of people put sentimental value on these things. To them it could be worth £100 when in reality it’s a £30 bottle.

“Most of the time it’s something that just lingers in the loft, they forget about the bottle.

“It was like a family at the brewery, there was a lot of sadness when it closed down.

“The first bottle I got was an Alan Shearer testimonial bottle, there were two million of them. Some people think they’re worth loads.

“I grew up in Newcastle. When you used to park your car you used to have the smell of the hops. I'm a massive Newcastle united fan.

“When I was older I started drinking it to hold onto your roots a little more. I've always collected Newcastle United memorabilia.

“I used to sit and chatting to folk, when I buy them. A lot of the people who worked there are in their 70s now, they enjoy chatting to folk.

"It reminds us of our grandparents.”

As Michael’s collection grew, he was forced to convert his garage into a museum dedicated to the Geordie tipple.

The finance director added: “I started collecting all the Newcastle United ones and it snowballed from there.

“I didn’t realise how many bottles there were.

“There are so many avenues you can go down for tracking things down. It's quite easy to say that you’re looking for something.

“I got an export bottle from a guy who lived 9,000ft up in the Rocky Mountains once.

“In the 90s they started just creating labels for all sorts of things for Newcastle United, for employees, they went a bit trigger happy in the 90s with the labelling machine.”

Michael’s most precious bottle was specially commissioned for the family of soldier Karl Smith who committed suicide in May 2018.

Karl was discharged from the Army when he damaged his hearing and took his own life after he struggled to adjust to civilian life.

To help encourage men not to ‘bottle up’ their emotions, Newcastle Brown Ale produced a label featuring Karl.

Michael said: “Karl was an avid brown ale fan.

“I spoke to his parents and they understood it was a collection and I wanted to help raise awareness.

“I would never sell that one if it came to financial ruin, the family have only given away three of them. There were only 50 of them made.

“There's a lot of emotion attached to the bottles.”

Michael is planning on writing a book about his collection, logging each of the bottle labels ever made.

He said: "We are fast approaching the 2027 centenary.

“It will be 100 years since the Blue Star was incorporated on to the bottle, and the name Newcastle Brown Ale started its life.

“I'm hoping to have the book published in time for the 100th anniversary."