Last week we talked about traveling to destination breweries, but what happens when you can’t get back there and you’re craving some tasty, out-of-market beers? For many, it means finding someone in the area and trading beer with them. So this week, we asked the Fervent Few if they take the time to trade for beer and if it's worth it.
Bill Kuhn: “I’m fortunate enough to be around a lot of people that trade beer and are kind enough to share it with me. That being said, long ago I did the math on what it was costing me per bottle to trade (shipping, actual cost, and time) and I realized it wasn’t prudent to do so. I’m in a couple of membership groups (Rare Barrel and Plan Bee) and also buy a fair amount of beer online and through Tavour, which I think feeds my desire to constantly try new beers. Coupled with the phenomenal selection locally (Hudson Valley, NY) I rarely need to look far for an impeccable beer.”
Ben Huey: “I trade beers quite frequently. Trading beers with friends is the best route to go, but I’ve also found Facebook groups to be a pretty reliable way to find people to trade beers with. I trade for different beers from all over the country. And the occasional local release that I may have missed out on. It’s an awesome way to try beers I’d never otherwise have the opportunity to. I’ve also been very pleasantly surprised at how well beer holds up after being shipped cross country. I recently traded for some Great Notion IPAs and they were fantastic. There are obvious issues with trading, but I'd have to imagine on the whole it's good for the craft beer industry. There are so many breweries I've found out about from trading forums. And maybe I'm a sucker for the whole FOMO-inducing rare/limited beer releases, but I get excited to try beer from a brewery people are claiming as the ‘best new thing.’ My recommendation would be to trade with someone you’ve met in person before. If not, then request a picture of the beer you’re trading for. It’s not a fail safe, but it will deter a lot of people trying to scam you. Sticking to dollar for dollar trades takes a lot of the complications out of things. It’s a habit I haven’t drank enough beer to quite rationalize.
Rob Day: “Beer is so good across the country right now that I never feel the need to trade for beers from specific regions. I'll dig in when I travel and when beer gets spotlighted back home, but I always ask: is that Portland-brewed DDH Mosaic Haze Bomb better than what I can go pick up in MA? If yes, is it enough better to trade, ship, etc.? The answer is always no for me. That being said, I have a great friend and a brother in different regions and every now and then we send each other a care package of cool shit. That’s about as far as I am willing to take it.”
Rob Steuart: “People ‘muling’ beer when they travel for sharing is much more common than trading with people so concerned about the freshness of product at the end. I've brought cans from the UK to Australia in my luggage and they have still been cold on arrival. No way to guarantee this using standard shipping.”
Lana Svitankova: “As far as I know, beer trade is not that [common outside] of the U.S., but sure, I can be mistaken. I don't trade beer, but I have a group of friends for sharing. Basically it's a way to discover as much as you can and cut your spending on beer. We bring beer from travels or get some rare imported bottles and split the cost.”
Quinn Thompson: “I used to trade on occasion, but gave up on it some time ago. Between the added cost of shipping, the lack of guarantee on freshness, storage conditions before the beer made its way to me and, frankly, the proliferation of high quality alternatives in my local market, it just wasn't worth it anymore.”
Nick Yoder: “I’ve only ever traded a couple of times, and that was just exchanging some local beers with friends in other parts of the country. I’m generally far more interested in getting a taste of the local favorites than I am whale hunting, but even then I’d prefer to drink those beers in their native setting. Generally I have enough good options here at home that it’s difficult to justify the time and cost required to trade.”