23 May 2012

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Rare Beer and Love Regular Beer

I've been drinking better beer for about a decade now. I would say that I've been trading beer for probably seven of those ten years, but in the last six months I've almost quit trading cold turkey, and I've found out a great deal about beer and myself along the way. I haven't pursued rare beer, trading beer, or worried about when a beer was going to hit the market. It has been very easy and very satisfying.

It is just fucking beer.  I didn't buy into that school of thought much when I was busy trading for the rarest of the rare.  I was certainly entitled to that new beer right? No. That is incorrect, but it took me a long time to learn that. The best beer is the one at the bottom of the empty glass.  

That rare beer you are trading for really isn't that good.  This is a very difficult one to come to grips with.  That beer may have been aged in a rare barrel, had 40 malts, 20 hops, and three yeast strains, but it won't live up to the hype. There are plenty of beers on the shelf that didn't cost as much and were much easier to obtain with no shipping, waiting list, standing in line, or being tethered to your computer at a certain time. 

Rating sites are ruining a chance for a quality drinking culture.  I didn't buy into this as well until just a few months ago.  I was very guilty of pursuing beer and trading for beer simply because the hype train had momentum behind it. High ratings on a beer rating website do not equal a great beer.

Our brewing community that is available in Indiana is making all of the beer that you need. I wish we got beer from other breweries, but I am pretty happy with our selection here in the Hoosier State. From local beer to beers that are distributed here.

Next time you look for that new seasonal or highly allocated one off at the liquor store, and they don't have it don't worry about it.  Try another beer you haven't had before.  It will be much more satisfying.

I've also discovered that stopping my beer hoarding and beer trading days has greatly increased my total beer dollars.  I can take two or three more beer trips this year just on that money alone.

So here is my new motto.  Drink beer that is regularly available.  It has helped reinvigorate my passion for beer.



  1. Down with competitive drinking! Great article.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. I can think of at least 8 active craft brewers within 15 miles of the circle that have excellent products. The availability of good, fresh, local beers in Indy right now is a blessing. Why spend big bucks searching for the most obscure quaff when I can fill a growler for $5 or $10? I'm enjoying a nice Moundbuilder IPA for $3.50 with my dinner at La Margerita right now. Yum!

  3. I've been touting this position for a while now, and I'm not changing my mind any time soon. Screw these $20-40 bottles, limited releases, waiting lists, 1 bottle limits, truck chasers, etc. I'd much rather give money to home-grown businesses who are producing killer products. If I could reliably get Upland Lambics like the good old days, I wouldn't need anything from out of state.

  4. I have felt this way for a while now, but it was the hype over this years Darklord day that really brought it to the fore front for me. Tickets were selling for $400 and more on Ebay. This is insane. I have kegs of beer I made myself for a fraction of that price that I would rather drink any day.

  5. I think it's a fair point to make, but one that is almost always made by someone who has already reached this point by trying lots of expensive and/or rare beers already.

    Craft beer is an exploratory endeavor. Drinkers are going to naturally seek out the next best thing until they reach this tipping point where the effort to find the next big thing is not worth the payout.

    It's easy for those of us who have already reached this point to try to convince those that haven't to just give up the chase but I think it's in vain. It's a realization that every drinker must come to on his/her own.

  6. I think some of these "rare" beers do live up to the hype. Does that mean I will chase a truck and try to grab ten bottles? Absolutely not. Will I occasionally purchase a $40 Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek and enjoy it? Absolutely. I do not believe such aspects of the industry degrade beer culture at all. I have been a Dark Lord tastings in which the "beer of honor" was no where near the best beers tasted. That was not necessarily the point though, it was a fun tasting. I am also a fan of the pomp and circumstance associated with release parties like Hunahpu's Day. I do not like the opportunistic people who purchase tickets and scalp them, but believe that is the individual who chose to try and make a profit off such things, fault not the beers fault. Collecting things is fun, within reason. Luckily, there are enough great beers that are not rare that quality drinking has to only be focused on the special releases. I do believe the obsession and emotions associated with hunting down rare beers can be detrimental if left unchecked but do not think the rare beer seeker is inherently evil or destroying beer culture.I think the two ends of the spectrum can be complementary. Ultimately, drinking beer, whatever kind of beer, should be fun and if chasing rare beers becomes a hassle or unsustainable, there are hundreds of excellent, less expensive and common choices in nearly any US city.