Quite often in this blog, I write about new beers coming out around the country. Last month, I wrote about Cascade’s Sour Blueberry and Russian River’s Beatification. Coming up in April is Three Floyd’s Dark Lord and Ithaca’s LeBleu. Unfortunately, you can’t just walk to your local liquor store and pick up a bottle. Many of these beers will only be sold at the brewery or will see very limited distribution. What’s a beer nerd to do? Relax, grab a beer and let me introduce you to the world of Beer Trading.
Beer trading is a great way to track down limited release beers like the ones mentioned above or maybe track down old favorites that don’t distribute to Colorado. My first trade was nearly 5 years ago when I traded for bottles of New Glarus Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart. Basically, I had tried these beers at the Great American Beer Festival and wanted some bottles for my fridge.
If you’ve ever been to GABF, you’re probably familiar with New Glarus and their never-ending line of 50+ people all waiting patiently for a 2 oz. pour of beer. They have a line at their table from the time the doors open on Thursday evening until the beer stops flowing late on Saturday night. And for good reason, they make some amazing beers and their fruit beers in particular are highly respected and sought after. Other than 3 days during GABF, New Glarus beers don’t make it to Colorado. In fact, New Glarus doesn’t distribute outside their home state of Wisconsin. No distribution to Colorado is bad news for us, but the good news is that New Glarus is really easy to find in Wisconsin.
So, we either need to make a road trip up to visit those cheese heads (approx. 30 hours round trip from Denver) or we can swap a few e-mails with a Wisconsin local and set up a trade. I’m going to be munchin’ on marshmallow peeps and hiding easter eggs for the kids this weekend, so I can’t make a road trip anytime soon, but I can probably spend a few minutes in front of the computer and arrange a beer trade.
One of our readers, we’ll just call him “Tony”, (mainly because that’s his name) has volunteered to let me walk him through a beer trade and share with you his experiences along the way. One of the first things I asked Tony was whether or not he had an account on beeradvocate.com. If you’re not familiar with beeradvocate, it’s a website where you can share reviews and learn about beer, but they have an area with forums that allow beer geeks to interact with each other. One of the forums is set up specifically for trading.
Turns out, Tony already has a beeradvocate.com account. If you don’t have one, they’re free and will give you access to the forums. The trading forum is called “ISO:FT”. “ISO”, means “In Search Of” and “FT”, means “For Trade”. So our post will look something along the lines of ISO: New Glarus, FT: Colorado Locals. Simple and to the point.
Head’s up, if you’re going to post on beeradvocate.com, read the rules first. The Bros. that run the site can be a little strict at times, but they mean well. Just make sure you don’t offer anything other than beer for beer trades. No trading your wife for beer, tickets for beer, pet goldfish for beer and definitely don’t offer to buy or sell any beer. It’s a no-no and will only get your post deleted.
There are other sites out there, but I think Beeradvocate has a pretty wide audience and I’ve been using it for nearly 6 years. I’ve met a lot of great people through the site, have made some good friendships and have a regular network of people around the country that I trade with, so I’m a little partial to it. Like I said, there are other sites that will allow you to meet other beer traders, but Beeradvocate is the one I prefer.
So we want New Glarus, specifically Belgian Red, maybe Raspberry Tart and Tony mentioned he also wanted to track down some Spotted Cow, which is their Cream Ale. These are fairly easy to find in Wisconsin and wouldn’t be hard for a local to pick up. In return, we’re going to offer beers that are local to us here in Colorado.
In simple trades like this, I will typically offer some of my favorite locals that don’t get distributed very far. For me, I’m leaning towards Odell, Dry Dock, Funkwerks and Crooked Stave. These are good breweries, making good beers that are fairly easy for me to find and will be enjoyed by the recipient. It wouldn’t make sense to offer beers from breweries like Avery, New Belgium and Great Divide, mainly because they have a huge distribution footprint. The vast majority of their lineup can be found across the U.S. and our recipient is going to want to trade for beers that he can go to a store and buy. There are still small batch releases and brewery exclusives that we can trade, but that’s a little advanced at this point. Let’s keep it simple for now. We can also offer breweries that distribute to Colorado, but might not distribute to Wisconsin. Maybe Russian River or Firestone Walker from California or Deschutes from Oregon.
When trading locals for locals, your best bet is to try to keep it dollar-for-dollar. In other words, if your recipient is spending $25 for your beer, expect to send $25 worth of beer to them.
I think we’re about ready to make our ISO:FT post. Click HERE to check it out. Now we sit back and wait for a response. I’ll keep you updated along the way. Warning, trading can become an addicting habit. In the meantime, enjoy the pic below. Cheers!
It’s a great time to be a beer trader. Spring is shaping up nicely with so many great beers getting ready to pop up around the country. Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA is about to drop another batch of Beatification for your drinking pleasure. This is a much, much bigger batch when compared to last month’s release. That’s good news, but it’s still going to be a brewery only release. Vinnie and the gang are going to start selling bottles on Friday, March 30th at 9AM, with a 6 bottle limit. Beatification is sour turned up to 11! It’s delish and should be on your radar if that’s your thing. Highly recommended.
Last week I mentioned Cascade up in Oregon and their Sour Blueberry release. They’ve got another tasty beer coming out on March 29, (yeah, tomorrow!), called The Vine. The Vine is a blend of soured triple, blonde quad and golden ale, refermented with white wine grapes. It then undergoes lactic fermentation, while spending more than 6 months in a barrel. I found some old notes from a bottle I opened back in 2010. I rated it very well and wrote down “notes of lemon, apples, grapes, grass and wood.” The good news about Cascade and their bottles is that they’ll ship directly to many states. Just check their website for an order form with all the details. I believe they still have bottles of Sour Blueberry, Apricot and Kriek for sale as well.
Also on the horizon for traders is Ithaca’s LeBleu. All the way out in upstate New York, is a great little place, called Ithaca Beer Company. LeBleu is part of their Excelsior series, which highlights events and special releases and has resulted in some amazing beers. I believe this will be the third batch of LeBleu to be released. The beer is a sour ale brewed with New York state blueberries and fermented with Brettanomyces. It’s then barrel aged and gets a dose of Champagne yeast when it’s finally transferred into 750mL bottles. This batch is a blend of barrels filled in 2010 and 2011.
LeBleu is another tart and super sour beer, but the Champagne yeast gives it an added dimension. The Champagne yeast gives it a huge, bubbly head, plenty of carbonation and a very dry finish, much like a traditional gueuze. I’ve been going on and on about how tasty this beer is, just making myself thirsty, that I didn’t even give you the release details. So the release is set for Saturday, April 14th from 11-7 EST. I haven’t seen a price yet, but plan on paying in the $20 range for a bottle. The good news is that there will be a 1 case limit, so if you know a beer trader out that way, it shouldn’t be too hard to track down.
I’ve talked quite a bit about beers to track down in trades and some of you might not have a clue as to how to go about getting into the world of beer trading. So maybe it’s about time we do a trade together. Whaddya think? I’ll work on putting together a trade in the next few weeks and I’ll walk you through it from start to finish.
Anybody have a suggestion on a beer they’d like to trade for? It doesn’t have to be anything crazy rare or limited, it can just be a simple 6 pack or bomber that you have had and enjoyed, maybe something you miss from back home or something you’ve never had before, but have been wanting to try. Here’s your chance. I’m telling you, it’s like Christmas morning when you get a big ol’ box o’ beer from the FedEx guy. It’s a fun and exciting way to try beers from all over the country that aren’t available in your neck of the woods. So hit me up if there’s something you’re after and we’ll go through the entire process together, one step at a time and post it on here.
Now for something you don’t have to trade for. Firkin Master Walt Chleva over at Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, CO, has a Bacon Maple Firkin that will be tapped on Friday, March 30th at 3PM. I can’t make it out for this one, but would love to hear how it turns out.
Also at Dry Dock this weekend is their sort of, maybe, kind of annual Chili Cookoff. It’s being held on Sunday, April 1st from 1-3PM. Stop by and try some really tasty entries and vote for your favorite. They’ve got details on their Facebook page if you’d like to enter your own creation. This is a great way to spend the afternoon and the competition is pretty fierce.
That’s it for today. Drop me a line if you have a suggestion for a beer to track down in trade, or if you’d like to learn how it’s done. Cheers!