The Case of the Mysterious Beer Bottles

By Jerry Angst 2012, 2020

On the morning of January 3, 2012, I arrived back at LBLR after spending New Year's weekend in Saint Paul. As I parked the car, I noticed something on the short dock that, in the summertime, connects the Front Porch to the shoreline. When I got a better look at it, I could see that it was an empty beer bottle (see picture below). Other than wondering which of my "smart-aleck friends" had left it there while I was gone, I didn't think much about it.

But the next morning I started to wonder about that mysterious beer bottle, and decided to try my hand at playing Sherlock Holmes. I wondered: Did someone, while walking around the edge of the lake on the ice, see the bottle laying in the snow, pick it up, and set it on my dock? Possibly, but where would someone have found it? It couldn't have been in the water because the lake was frozen. It could have been in the weeds somewhere along the shoreline, but it was very clean and the label was in perfect condition. It certainly wouldn't look like that if it had been laying in the weeds for awhile; and if someone drank it outside and dropped it in the weeds, it probably would have happened months ago. Or could the bottle have been put there by someone who didn't come from the lake? Although it's against the law, driving while drinking a beer isn't unheard of in this neck of the woods, but on a cold January day, who would have driven into my driveway just as he finished a beer, then walked out to the dock to leave the bottle? And it was a Lienenkugel's Creamy Dark for goodness sake, which is a fairly uncommon beer, especially around here. If anyone I knew had been driving around drinking a beer, it would have been in a "can" (not a bottle), and it would have been a Michelob Golden Draft or Miller Lite, or something similar, but certainly not a "bottle" of Lienenkugel's Creamy Dark. If it didn't come from a car, what are the odds that someone walking around on the ice on the lake at near zero temperatures, would be drinking a beer? Pretty small, right? Incidentally, there were no foot prints going to the dock from either direction, so either the perpetrator had come from the lake where the snow been blown away (see the above picture), or from the shore before the last snowfall, or soon enough after the last snowfall, to give the wind enough time to obliterate his foot prints. Either way, that would make it at least a couple days before I found it.

Then, on January 9th, the plot (and it certainly appeared to be a plot) began to thicken. As you probably know, a friend of mine (Randy) has a log home and a cabin on the south end of Little Bass Lake, but as you probably don't know, there's a metal stake that marks the boundary between the two properties. Early that morning, he found a nice clean beer bottle.......a "Lienenkugel's Creamy Dark" beer bottle no less, turned upside down on that stake, (see below). That bottle was also very clean and the label was in very good shape, indicating that it had been put there quite recently. Like at LBLR, there were no foot prints to indicate from which direction the perpetrator had come, and again indicating that it had been there for at least a few days. Needless to say, he and I discussed the situation at length, and we came up with several theories, but they were mostly reiterations of the ones I had thought of several days before. The result of our long discussion was that whoever left the beer bottles there, knew both of us and knew that we were friends. There was just no way that these two bottles were left at random places around the lake, which just happened to be our two properties. Other than that, we still had nothing but questions.   [Aside -- Which of us was Sherlock Holmes and which was Dr. Watson, I wondered at the time. Although which of us was the Putz and which was the Moron might have been a more appropriate question. -- End of Aside]   I even solicited thoughts and ideas by way of the LBLR Chronicles, from which I got a few comments, but no new ideas.

That was how the mystery stood back in January of 2012, and the way it remained for almost 8 years. I sold the resort in March of 2018, and as a result, our family get-togethers at LBLR, which usually occurred four times a year between Memorial Weekend and Thanksgiving Weekend, had ceased. So the family and I started talking about meeting up there again, and in August of 2019, after an absence of almost two years, we rented the three cabins at the north end of the resort, and went back for a reunion of a sort. While we were there, I visited friends that I hadn't seen in awhile, and among them, was my friend Paula, who lived across the lake from LBLR. During a discussion over dinner at LBLR one evening, Paula happened to say something about the beer bottles that her and her husband had left for us several years before. She then gave us the details.......and their beer bottles were the very same ones that had baffled Randy and I almost 8 years before. The mystery was solved! Though I still wonder why they would drink beer while walking that far on the ice on a cold day, at least we now know who it was. As Doctor Watson would probably have said: Most singular indeed, my dear Holmes!