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Minnesota Man's Hamm's Beer Collection Is Among World's Largest

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Collections come in all shapes and sizes, and a southern Minnesota man has one that is beyond impressive. Steve Miner is proud owner of one of the largest Hamm's Beer collections in the entire country, but that isn't all he's known for.

Miner might live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but it's the Land of Sky Blue Waters that caught his eye. That's the Hamm's beer slogan, and every inch of his home is chock full of ice cold collectibles.

"This is one of the first Hamm's cans actually, this is 1935," said Miner while holding a vintage can. "Since this was such a new thing they even had the instructions on the side on how to open them."

He began collecting in the 1970s, and at one point he had more than 4,000 beer cans. Then he started buying signs and Scene-O-Ramas before it was popular, inspired by those iconic Hamm's bear commercials.

"The bear was invented in 1954. Whether you drank Hamm's or not, you had to enjoy those commercials," Miner said.

These days, as a retired mechanic and a Hamm's historian, he fixes broken memorabilia for people at his shop in Winnebago, pieces of nostalgia that once graced the walls of a local bar or VFW.

"This is a Scene-O-Rama, and it takes like five minutes for the entire scene to go by, and it's just classic," he said, while showing off a piece he fixed. "It just screams Minnesota. A lot of resorts up north claim that these scenes were shot at their business, but many of them were actually shot near Turtle Lake, Wisconsin."

But Miner's talents go well beyond beer signs. There aren't many people left in the entire country who can bring a 1950s jukebox back to life, but Miner is one of them.

"Nothing looks worse than a juke box sitting there without lights on," he said. "Seeburg was kind of king of the 50s. They came out with the first machine in 1950 that played 45s."

As a jukebox doctor, Miner is doing his part to keep rock 'n' roll alive. He said as long as he can still find the parts, he can still make the fix. Not a bad way for a former mechanic to spend retirement.

"I'm seeing more and more young people that are collecting this kind of stuff, because either their dad or their grandpa did it and it brings back memories," he said.

Miner's collectible and jukebox repair business, by the way, is called Hamm It Up!


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