Over the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you to beer trading and walked you through a simple trade. Just in case you missed something, in Part One, we talked about how to set up a trade. In Part Two, we picked a trader and agreed on beers to trade. In Part Three, we packed and shipped our beers. We’ve waited patiently for our package to be delivered and it’s finally here!
Yep, this is my favorite part, opening the big box of goodies. When I open a box of beer, I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning. Even when I know what’s inside, it’s still exciting to dig in and unwrap all the beers.
Our New Glarus loot in all its’ glory! Yeah, we pulled a ton of tasty brews from Wisconsin. If you’ve never had the Belgian Red or Raspberry Tart, make sure you move them to the top of your list. Big, fruity flavors that are appreciated even by non-beer lovers. Drink it straight or get crafty and pour it over vanilla bean ice cream or mix it with some Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout. Fun, tasty beers.
At this point, I’ll e-mail our trader to thank them and let them know that I got everything in one piece. I’ll also ask if they got the package I sent. If something breaks, it’s typically the responsibility of the shipper to replace the beer(s) or do something to make up for the loss. Just another good reason to take the extra time to pack things up safely the first time.
After checking with our trader, Kody, he told me that our package arrived safely with no issues. At this point, the trade is done. Now all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy your beers.
I keep a list of people I’ve traded with and will generally trade with the same people over and over again. For example, after trading with Kody, I know that in addition to New Glarus, he’s got pretty good access to beers from Goose Island and Three Floyds among others. We’re already working on setting up our next trade. It doesn’t take long to develop a network of contacts and beer traders around the country. It’s that easy.
Hope this little trading guide answered some questions and encouraged you to take the plunge. If anything’s unclear or you’ve got questions, by all means, let me know. It’s a great hobby. Hope you enjoy it!
Big shout out to all of the brewers that won awards over the weekend at the World Beer Cup in San Diego, CA! The complete list of winners can be found HERE. I’m really excited to see so many Colorado brewers bring home medals, including Oskar Blues, Dry Dock, Rockyard, Odell and many more. Bull & Bush brought home a whopping 4 awards! Congrats to all the breweries!
The next World Beer Cup is scheduled for Denver in 2014! Yeah, it’s two years away, but it’s coming. It’s almost like Denver was picked to host the Olympics. Brewers from all over the world will be in town for a long weekend of seminars, tastings, beer dinners and more. They couldn’t have picked a better location.
Don’t look now, but Colorado Beer Week is right around the corner. More details to come later this week. Stay tuned and check the Facebook page for all the latest info.
At this point, we’ve agreed on what beers we’re going to send and receive. I’ve also responded to all of the people who sent me a message looking to trade. It’s good to respond, even if it’s just to say “thanks, but no thanks”. Kody (our trader out in IL) and I have agreed on a shipping date and we’re ready to pack up and send.
There are several ways to wrap and pack and there’s plenty of different materials you can pick from. I typically just go with the basic bubble wrap, but I’ve done so many trades at this point and recycle most of the material I receive, so as long as the packing material is still in good condition, I’ll just reuse it on a future trade.
Wrap each bottle individually. Don’t skimp here. Make sure everything is covered with packing material and taped up so nothing slips out.
After wrapping, it’s not a bad idea to slip each beer into a ziploc bag. That way, if something breaks, your box won’t be dripping wet. Most shipping companies won’t deliver a box that is leaking and it will only cause problems for you down the road. If something does break, it’s typically the responsibility of the shipper to make good and replace the beer. Take your time and do a good job on packing the beers. There’s nothing worse than having a shipment out there in “beer purgatory” because something leaked out or busted during delivery.
For your box, make sure it’s sturdy and can take a beating if necessary. Don’t go with some flimsy shoe box or thin-walled cardboard box. Moving boxes work, double-walled boxes are the best. Use your best judgement here, but realize your box will be going on a long journey across the country, so pick a good one. If you’re shipping a lot of beers, don’t be afraid to split it between two boxes.
So you’ve wrapped your beers and picked your box, now line the box with bubble wrap, styrofoam peanuts or whatever padded material you’ve got and start packing your beers. I try to leave a little space in between each beer and fill it up with styrofoam peanuts or bubble wrap. Again, don’t skimp.
In the past, I’ve lined my boxes with a big garbage bag and tied it closed before closing up the box. That way, if something happens to break, it won’t destroy the box and ruin the shipment. I haven’t done this in a while, but would recommend it if you’re going to be shipping full growlers. Make sure you completely fill the empty space in your box with packing material. This will ensure your beers aren’t slipping and moving around inside during delivery. Again, don’t skimp or cut corners when it comes to packing your beers.
I try to visualize my box taking a 6-foot fall. Would the beers survive? If the answer is yes, then you should be safe to ship. If you’re not sure, repack and don’t take the risk.
Pack it up tight and tape it closed. I use a lot of tape and hit each open edge a few times just to be safe.
An easier way to pack your beers, is to track down some styrofoam bottle shippers. These are molded to hold big 750mL bottles, but with a little bubble wrap, you can fill the space to hold 22oz. bombers or 12oz. bottles. Super easy to use and you can get them in 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 or 12 bottle sizes. Over time, I’ve accumulated a bunch of these in the garage and I typically use them with people I trade with over and over again. I’ll ship first and they’ll fill it up and send beers back to me. It’s a time saver and if you have regular trading partners that you trade with multiple times, it can save you money too.
Both methods work, but it’s up to you the route you want to take.
As for shipping, don’t use U.S. Mail. It’s illegal to ship alcohol using the USPS. Don’t bother with them. I use FedEx and most traders will use FedEx or UPS, but don’t advertise that you’re shipping beer. Some shipping employees won’t care, others will tell you they won’t ship it.
If someone hears a little sloshing around in your box, they might ask what’s inside. Good answers are steak marinade, yeast samples or collectible bottles. You can also mask the sounds by throwing a handful of rice in the bottom of the box. I’ve also received boxes that had a tiny box of pennies inside. Not necessary, but not a bad idea either.
Make life easy on yourself and set up a free FedEx account. It only takes a minute to do and allows you to print your own shipping labels on your home printer. Get your box dimensions and approximate weight, enter your destination and print it out. Then you just need to tape it to your box and schedule a pickup or drop it off at your local retailer. Aside from saving yourself the hassle of filling out all your shipping papers at the store, you get a discount and they’ll even give you free shipping supplies. So easy, a caveman can do it.
You’ll get a tracking number which you’ll want give to your recipient. That way they can track it along the way and know when to expect delivery.
It’s not a bad idea to throw in a couple of extra beers in your box. I usually drop in a few tasty local beers that I think my recipient might enjoy. If it’s someone I’ve traded with a few times, I might throw in something that I know they’ve been looking for or is tough to track down. Living in Colorado, I usually go with Odell, Dry Dock or if I’m shipping east, maybe some Firestone Walker or Deschutes. Just something that our target probably doesn’t have access to and would enjoy. Sometimes I’ll also throw in a nice tulip glass or some brewery swag in as well. Just a little something to say thanks for the trade. It’s not required, but is something that most traders will do and helps spread a little good beer karma.
Now you’ve done all the work, just drop off your package and wait for yours to show up in return. I dropped off yesterday and it’s supposed to arrive on Thursday. See, now that wasn’t so hard, was it? I’m looking forward to getting some fresh New Glarus. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know what we got. Feel free to hit me up with any questions you might have. In the meantime, sit back and have a beer.
Plenty of great events coming up this weekend. I should have all the details up in another day or two, so check back soon for updates. Also, click on the Facebook page for daily updates and happenings in the world of beer.
The house is quiet. The kids are in bed, Patti’s makin’ the big bucks at work and I’m sitting out back on the deck. My cat watches me through the screen door in total jealousy. I’m not sure if he’s jealous of the fact that I’m outside or if he’s just eyeing up the IPA I’m sipping on, but either way, he’s not happy with me. At any rate, I’m loving this weather and I’m a little bummed that another weekend is drawing to a close. Did you get out and enjoy it? We sure did.
We hit the Copper Kettle 1-year Anniversary Party on both Friday and Saturday. It gave us a chance to try some of their special releases like the Belgian Golden Strong, Belgian Black Quad and American Barleywine, among others. If you missed it, you need to kick yourself… hard. It was a great, 4-day long celebration, with different beer releases each day, along with food trucks and live music on-site. I’m not sure if they staff got any sleep over the weekend or not, but they were having fun and kept things running smoothly.
Gary V was there broadcasting his American Craft Beer Radio program on Saturday morning. He had Jeremy Gobien and Kristin Kozik from Copper Kettle on the show, along with Bill Eye talking about the upcoming opening of Prost Brewing, Firkin Master Walt Chleva from Dry Dock and Tim Myers from Strange Brewing. Great show and thanks Gary for the shout out!
After the past weekend, I’m really digging Copper Kettle and their great beers. I’ll be stopping by more and more to try their different releases and get growlers to go. Congrats on a great first year guys!
We also hit up the Avery Tap Takeover out at Parry’s Pizza in Highlands Ranch, CO. This was an awesome event, featuring 21 Avery beers on tap, plus a handful in bottles. They brought some heavy hitters for this event, including ’11 Beast Grand Cru, Tweak, Uncle Jacob’s Stout and a ton more. Very, very impressed with the lineup. The standout for me was the Boulder Weiss. A (not over the top) German sour, that was served with a touch of either cherry or peach. The peach was delish!
They also had Avery giveaways every hour throughout the day. We couldn’t resist the food. Dude, their food is seriously good. We got a pizza that was dripping with tasty meat. It couldn’t have been better. Really good food, great beer. If you haven’t been yet, move Parry’s to the top of your list. Stay tuned for more Tap Takeovers in the coming weeks.
Alright, so you get the idea, the weekend rocked. Hope you were able to get away from the yard work and enjoy it at some point.
Got plenty of new beers on the way to keep your beer hunting skills finely tuned. First up is Stone Ruination. Seems the gargoyle has been working out and has pumped up from 7.7% ABV to 10% ABV for his birthday. Come on now, who doesn’t like Stone? This classic Double IPA should be pretty easy to track down, so keep an eye out for it in upcoming weeks.
For the sour beer and funk lovers out there, Chad Yakobson up at Crooked Stave has bottled his Petite Sour. You might recognize the name from last year’s Pure Guava Petite Sour release, but this is a completely different beer. It’s being described as a “tart, farmhouse, table beer”. I know last year’s Pure Guava had a, well, uhm, interesting (?) aroma when it was released, that wasn’t necessarily well received by the funksters. Settle down people, Chad knows his beer. If you like wild yeast, sours and funky things, this should be on your radar. Oh, and pick up two if you can. One for now and one to try in a year or two, after the yeast has really gone to town and worked its’ magic.
While we’re laying down the funk, Jason Yester down at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs just got label approval for his upcoming Oh Face Saison. Another tribute to the movie Office Space, this was brewed with pumpkin, lavender and spices and fermented with Brettanomyces. He’s putting that new brew system to good use. They don’t call him Saison Man for nothing. Jason is a master at what he does and this will definitely warrant a trip to the brewery to pick up a bottle or three.
Right about now you might be thinking, damn man, can’t you just tell me about a good beer that I can go to the store and buy today! Sorry, I just get excited about all the new beers coming our way. But yes, you’re right. There are plenty of new, tasty beers that have found their way to your local shelves in the last week that you can easily track down and enjoy right now.
How about Firestone Walker’s Wookey Jack. This is the latest release in their Reserve Series and is listed as a Black Rye IPA. Wookey Jack is double dry-hopped with Citra and Amarillo hops, which should give a big grapefruit or citrusy aroma. It’s unfiltered and I’m guessing the rye will make it pretty easy drinking. At only $5.99 / 22-oz bomber, it’s worth trying.
Quick teaser, FW fans, Parabola will be back in mid-May. I believe this will be the third batch. More details as I get ’em, but if you like imperial stouts, this is a winner. Stay tuned.
One more beer that’s out and about now is Avery’s Uncle Jacob’s Stout. I know, I know, I’ve mentioned this beer about 6 times in the last two weeks, but it’s THAT good. Plus, I know you’re going to be really mad at yourself when all the other little Colorado beer nerds have bought them up and you missed out. Yep, it’s $10.00 / 12-oz bottle. I get it, it’s expensive, but it’s also 17% ABV. Split a bottle with someone and put on a long movie. You’re evening is set. It’s a nice, nice beer that is very drinkable right now and will continue to evolve and change over time. Avery plans to release this beer again next year, so start building your vertical now. Pick up some today. It’s still around at a few places, but won’t be there for long. If you don’t grab one, I don’t want to hear any whining later. Just sayin’.
That’s it for now. Again, hope you had a great weekend and hope I could add some beers to your shopping list. Oh, almost forgot, our beer trade is going along swimmingly. (Swimmingly??? I don’t know, just liked the sound of it) Our beers are getting shipped out tomorrow. Stay tuned and I’ll walk you through the whole packing process and get us one step closer to some tasty, sweet New Glarus morsels.
Happy Earth Day! Cheers!
So a few days ago I gave you a little tease about getting into the delicious world of beer trading. We were going to walk through a trade, along with Tony, one of our readers and track down some tasty New Glarus in exchange for some Colorado locals. Did you miss out? If so, click HERE to catch up and come back when you’re ready. (insert Jeopardy theme song…)
So we set up our free account on beeradvocate.com; we made our simple ISO (In Search Of): FT (For Trade) post; we raked in a bunch of responses (about 15 in 24 hours). Now what???
So now you’re wondering, how do I pick a trader to go with? Like I said, we got about 15 responses the first day of our ISO:FT post. I’ve got a few ways to narrow down the trader we’re going to work with. The first way is to go with the first response. Kind of seems fair that the early bird gets the worm. Another way is to go with someone you’ve already traded with.
For me, trading is all about establishing good, friendly relationships with traders from around the country. That way, when a beer comes along in a certain area of the U.S. that I’m looking for, I’ve got someone that might be able to help me out and vice versa. There are several traders that I’ve known for years and we hook each other up with local fav’s, brewery only releases and so on, to share the loot. In this case though, I wanted to start fresh and not fall back on past experiences. I wanted to play the “rookie” and show you that it’s still easy to lock in a trade without knowing someone ahead of time.
So I decided on a response from Kody, who actually lives in Chicago, IL, but makes frequent trips to Wisconsin. Kody’s initial response was simple and to the point. He just stated that he had New Glarus Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart and was looking for Odell and Lost Abbey. We swapped a few more messages and came to the realization that we both had access to the same Lost Abbey beers, but I suggested some beers from Dry Dock, Avery and Funkwerks that he hadn’t heard of and might be interested in.
In the past week, we’ve exchanged about a dozen more messages, narrowing down specific beers to swap and our favorite styles. Turns out, Kody is going to be obtaining bottles of Three Floyd’s Dark Lord later this month, which is considered to be one of the best beers on the planet. I love me some Dark Lord and am always on the hunt for more. So we’re already talking about future trades!
Like I said, beer trading for me, is about making those friendships that will continue for years to come. I enjoy making connections with people like Kody who have the same passion for beer as I do. In the future, I can get beers exclusive to my area that he will enjoy and swap for beers in his area that I will enjoy. This is what makes the beer geek community so cool and unique. Granted, it’s not always this way. I’ve done many “one and done” trades, but more often than not, I trade with the same people, over and over again. Hell, there’s even a guy in Boston, MA that I traded with so many times that I flew him out for the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago.
Anyway, so we’ve locked in our trader, made small talk, locked in the beers we’re going to trade and we’re one step closer to having some delicious New Glarus for our glass. Our next step is to buy our beers, pack, ship and wait for our box o’ goodies to arrive. Questions???? Comments???? I’m going to try and pack our beers this week, so stay tuned!
In other news, I hit the Uncle Jacob’s Stout release at Avery last night. Uncle Who? Click HERE for the details. I got there late, but avoided the line and still got my allocation. The reviews so far have been great. For anybody that went and popped open a bottle, what did you think? Looks like they flipped the line around and ran it into the barrel room and back through the keg room. After attending various Avery releases for the past few years, it seems like Avery has gotten better and better about their small batch releases. They continue to improve the customer experience and that’s a GREAT thing. Big shout-out to Adam, Phil and everyone else over there for their awesome efforts in making these releases run smoother each and every time. I hope to open a bottle soon and will try to share with you when I do.
Lastly, tomorrow is Opening Day for the Colorado Rockies. As a huge baseball fan, I’m really, really looking forward to this. The weather should be perfect and the beer scene will be in full effect. Falling Rock Tap House will be rockin’ with tents set up out front representing your favorite breweries. Freshcraft, Denver Beer Company, Great Divide and the new kid on the block, River North, will be open and ready for the baseball crowd. Rumor has it, Sandlot, at Coors Field, will even be pouring a sour for Opening Day! Patti and I will be there and hope to see you downtown! Drop us a line if you’re going. We’d love to meet up and share a brew with you.
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!
OK, here we go, another blog in a world already over saturated with forums, social networks and weblogs. Then why? Why should you bother reading another blog from an average joe like myself? What makes this blog worthy of your valuable time? Well, if it helps, I’ll say that I like Beer. It’s delicious! I like it so much, I’ve decided to make this blog all about the stuff. The sweet, sweet fermented goodness that brings me joy and satisfaction at the end of my day (and sometimes the beginning and middle of my day too).
So my blog, my piece of property in internet infinium, will be dedicated (mostly) to Beer.
I’m not exactly an expert. My name’s Mark and I’ve got a somewhat normal job, an amazing wife and two awesome kids. I don’t work for a brewery or have my cicerone certification, nor am I a certified beer judge. But, I am passionate about the stuff and am ready to share this knowledge with you.
My goal and purpose of this blog is to keep you, my wonderful reader, up to date on the happenings in the wonderful world of beer. I’ll cover what’s going on both close to home, here in Colorado and around the U.S. and maybe even the world. I want to take you with me on adventures to breweries around town and on road trips and festivals throughout the year. Come with me and explore different styles, learn about well-known, popular breweries, but also obscure, lesser known breweries from across the globe. Dive into my beer cellar and dust off some aged bottles to sample and learn what, how and why to properly cellar beer in your own home. We’ll meet some of the masterminds and artists behind our favorite beers and see what inspires them to do what they do. Maybe we’ll even brew a batch of beer together.
Want the buzz on the latest upcoming releases around town? We’ll talk about it. Ever find yourself wondering what would pair well with a nice, thick, hearty steak or a stinky, veiny chesse? I’ve got you covered there too. Should I keep my beer in the bottle or pour it into a glass, and if I need a glass, what kind of glass should I use? Does it really matter? Absolutely! Maybe you’re having a party and want some suggestions for appetizers that will pair well with beer or want some recipes for beer infused food. I’ll even walk you through a beer trade and give you some tips on how to track down a bottle of New Glarus Belgian Red or maybe even the elusive Three Floyd’s Dark Lord!
Along the way, you’ll meet my lovely wife, Patti as we bring you with us on our trips and adventures. She’s a beer nerd, just like me.
Like I said, I’m no expert, but I’ve been all around the globe in search of good beer and now it’s time to share some of that knowledge with anybody that’s willing to listen.
Care to join me? Grab a pint, here we go!