Good Beer Hunting

Fervent Few

Fervent Few — Party Of One

Buying a big bottle of a fun or rare beer is great when you know that eventually you’re gonna share it with some close friends or drinking buddies. But what happens when that beer has been sitting there calling to you from your basement or closet for months? Years? Do you dare drink a 17% ABV, bourbon-barrel aged, vanilla, pepper, peanut Stout all by yourself? This week, we asked the Fervent Few about dipping into the cellar when no one else is around.


Eoghan Walsh: “I once ended up drinking a five-year-old bottle of Cantillon Grand Cru Bruocsella all by myself when I was babysitting my niece. I just couldn't find anyone else to share it with, and it was just sitting there forlornly in my cellar, so I thought, ‘Might as well, it's not like I'm going to hawk this on the resale market.’ It tasted fantastic.”

Mattias Varg: “I usually bring a couple of Cantillons with me when I go out to the family cabin alone. Or go fishing. And I drink them slowly by a fire.”

Jesse Walker: “It’s not a usual practice for me, but I have done it. The one time I didn’t regret having a bottle all to myself was my first ever Jester King, Atrial Rubicite. What an experience that was! I’m in the UK, too, so the moment I laid eyes on a JK bottle, I was overwhelmed!”

Manny Gumina: “When I first got into beer, I drank a 750ml of Speedway Stout while watching No Reservations and learned my lesson.”

Patrick Atkins: “Hill Farmstead wine-barrel-aged ales. Earlier this year, several mates and I made the trek from Virginia to Vermont and beer spots galore in between. I was able to trade for a bottle of the last batch of Vera Mae. I had intentions of sharing with maybe two of them (it’s a 750ml), but I drank it myself one night instead. It was a truly amazing beer experience. In hindsight, I wish I had split the bottle with one other friend, so I could’ve discussed it with them while we drank it. Alas, it would’ve been difficult to choose which friend. I have no qualms or regrets about the solo dome.”

Daniel Kastner: “For me, a few of the factors on whether I’m going to share a bottle or drink it myself are the size of the bottle, ABV, how much I spent on it, and how much I like the beer. If I’m going to a bottle share where I know I’ll get to try a lot of really good beers, I don’t mind bringing an expensive, large-format bottle to share. I also like to break out a really nice bottle If I’m with good friends that can appreciate it. Otherwise, I’m probably going to drink it myself or share it with my girlfriend. I have no problem drinking a whole 750ml bottle of Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen, Crooked Stave, Jester King, or other high-end large format beer by myself with the exception of extremely high-ABV beers.”

Wayne Pelletier: “Alone or with guests, all single-serving whales can and will be taken down without remorse. Large-format whales collect until there is an opportunity to share. Especially true for higher gravity brews and Pastry Stouts.”

Zack Rothman: “I’ve taken down many a whale by myself. There are so many out there and not enough shares to bring them to. Better to indulge in them than to let them sit in the cellar gathering dust. When I go solo, it’s typically with sours such as Lambics from Cantillon. They tend to be low enough in alcohol to be enjoyed responsibly, and they are absolutely delicious. Whether it’s for an occasion or just for clearing out the cellar, pouring one of those green bottles from a Lambic basket into some proper glassware can make it special, even if you’re on your own.”

Erik Arvo: “If a day/night presents itself where I get to be home with no kids, then all of my previous concerns are thrown right out the door. Size, ABV, and parental responsibilities are no longer a worry. Instead, the bottle transforms into more of a challenge/experience at that point. I’ve actually enjoyed the solo consumption of many bigger styles of beer in 750s or 22-oz bottles. I will leave the bottle out on counter during the evening and take maybe 4-5 ounces at a time and see how the beer tastes different as it warms up over the evening.”

Quinn Thompson: “Most of the whales in my cellar are big, boozy Stouts. I have no hesitation enjoying a 12-oz Imperial Stout by myself if I'm feeling up to it. My wife is usually game to split a bomber with me, and even if we end up leaving some behind, I'm content enough having tried the beer and sharing it with someone who appreciates it.”

Nick Yoder: “I have no qualms about taking down 12-16 ounces myself. Even the biggest, booziest bombers are doable as long as there are no responsibilities for the night. If it's barrel-aged, my wife will drink some, but often finds barrel-aged beers too sweet. If it's something sour or funky, well, I'll be lucky if I get half of it. I don't tend to set aside certain beers to share. Occasionally there might be something I know a family member or friend really wants to try, so I'll save those. But most of my sharing is spontaneous or in the form of verticals that are unwise to conquer on my own.”

Nick Weber: “I certainly do cellar beers and save bottles for special occasions. If I have someone to share with, I do, but I'm not wasting whales on just anyone. If I need to take down a magnum of Gueuze by myself, I'll happily do so with regularity.”

What’s been your experience with drinking special beers? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook. Or, support the great content and people of GBH by joining the Fervent Few! We’d love to chat with you.

Hosted by Jim Plachy