So as you can probably figure out from what I’ve published so far, craft beer plays a pretty hefty role in my life. Its ever-changing, from up and coming breweries bringing new beer to the table to tried and true breweries that keep pumping out solid offerings that keep the masses coming back for more. There’s a lot of us craft beer enthusiasts out here that are always searching for the ultimate beer that gives that sense of euphoria to the tastebuds. One of the ways to widen that search of the perfect beer, many beer nerds, like myself, have ventured into the realm of the good old beer trade.
Now ill go ahead and preface this segment with a little legal disclaimer. In the Country of the United States of America, it is in fact illegal to ship alcohol across the country without a distribution license. There are a few ways around this law that are commonly used, one of which is searching your local area for a third party distributor, like a local bottle shop that ships nation wide. The most commonly used practice, which just so happens to be frowned upon by your local government agency, is just packing up beers and sending boxes thru UPS or Fedex. Now why this isn’t the most kosher way of shipping beer, its definitely the widest used option.
There are definitely a few components that anyone needs to do research on and understand before getting into the beer trading scene…
- Do your research on how to properly package and ship beers from a trade to ensure safe travel. The last thing anyone wants to do is open a box that wasn’t properly packed and find broken or damaged beers, only having to replace them with the agreement that was in place with the initial trade.
- Take the time to figure out what beers you’re in search of, aka ISO, and what level of “value” these beers will trade at. There are definitely certain tiers of breweries that trade at higher values than others due to high quality and scarcity. There are plenty of online forums that will show completed trades for most beers out there. By doing this, it also helps you propose a more realistic trade offer that will have more responses.
- Be a Giver, Not a Taker. If you’re just getting into the beer trading scene, its always a great idea to be on the generous side when it comes to trades. With any trade you agree to it is always a good idea to pack in a couple extra beers for Good Karma. Its always a nice way to have others try some of your favorite daily drinking beers and good karma tends to come back around when it comes to trades you receive.
So now that we have some of the basics out of the way, were going to get into a couple aspects of the beer trade game that are pretty crucial now a days. The game has changed quite a bit from when i first started beer trading about 3+ years ago. I was lining up deals left and right for beers from all over the nation. I’d be sending out multiple boxes on a Monday morning and come home to a bounty of beer on Friday. It really was pretty addicting being able to try all of these crazy beers I never thought I would be able to try. I definitely got caught up in the game and started looking for more of the top tier beers that I could share with friends, and have that subtle dick swing at the same time. One of the better moves anyone can make when it comes to beer trading is trying to build stable, regular trade partners. Remember all that talk about sending those Good Karma beers? Those extra beers are always one of the easiest ways to impress a trade partner and a great way to build up a lasting relationship with a fellow beer nerd. Regular trade partners are a huge asset in that the bond is already in place, rather than having to negotiate with someone completely new. Most of my regular trade partners know that I’m going to bring the thunder when it comes to most boxes I send out. Most of them will reach out to me if they’re looking for specific beers from new releases and know that Ill do what I can to seek out those beers. I take care of them and they do the same. Its just like any networking system. The more connections out there, the better. Building connections really isn’t that had, just take care of people and share the beer wealth.
Now just like with anything else, there’s going to be a downside to beer trading in general. Most of it is going to come with the community who are trying to trade for those upper tier beers that were previously mentioned. This whole article was actually stemmed from dealing with this issue yesterday. I don’t remember when it happened and I still question why it ever changed, but at some point a good portion of the beer trading community became more worried about trying to maximize the value they receive from trades instead of trying to share beers with the majority of the community at large. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a conversation about a possible trade involving certain bottles, only to have someone tell me the “value” of their bottles up for trade are “worth” more than the bottles I had for trade. I can only speak for myself on this topic but from my viewpoint, as soon as you start that shit, I sever any conversation we had and move on. Everyone is going to have their own opinions on what bottle X is “worth” on a secondary pricing structure. There are definitely a lot of beers out there I still have yet to try that I would definitely seek out, but not at the cost of my dignity or pride by giving into someone looking for more beers. I’ve been trading now for too long to have the wool pulled over my eyes and bent over with no KY to prepare my anus. Most of my trade proposals are right in the realm of realistic in most people’s eyes so when i get a random person sending a message to me telling me that I’m “lowering the value of the beer by posting the wrong ratios” and to “change the ratios to help maintain the value for bottle holders” I usually have a good laugh along with a proper “Go Fuck Yourself” moment or two. I have been in the trading game with one objective from the very beginning: to try as many new beers as I can get my hands on. Plain and Simple. For all of those out there trying to flip beer for profits (aka #MaxProfit), you need to take a good look in the mirror and assess your life decisions a bit more thoroughly. Craft beer is supposed to be fun and bring people together over a common hobby, not used as a way to pay your fucking rent.
This may have come off a little bit preachy but I can guarantee that I’m not the only one out there that has their views in line with mine when it comes to beer trades. Have any great stories about your regular trade partners? Any nightmare stories from people trying to take your beer and the rug out from under you? I want to hear them! Until next time, keep drinking beers with friends and strangers alike. Hell, hit me up and we can drink a beer together.