Let’s get real—regular beer is boring. By that I mean breweries’ flagship releases, any product produced year-round, and cans or bottles that are distributed nationwide. These take absolutely no effort to locate. Look, I’m not one of those people that necessarily thinks “rare” beer tastes better. But I am a man who derives much of his self-worth by drinking things others are unable to obtain.
If you want to be like me, you will have to change your lifestyle radically, often for the worse. You will need to make finding beer more of a priority than finding steady employment, and prioritize befriending insufferable beer geeks with good “cellars” over spending time with people you actually like on an emotional level.
Meanwhile, your real friends, if you still have any, will become nothing more than “mules” in your eyes—warm bodies able to help increase the maximum amount of bottles you can procure at any given beer release. You will strategize, connive, collude, cheat, and commit numerous unethical acts. You will become a junky, your “fix” being wax-dipped bottles of a low bottle count. Ultimately, you will have nothing more than some of the world’s most exclusive and elusive beers to keep you warm at night. And, being that many of these rare beers are indeed world-class offerings, that might just be good enough.
So, how do you beat the odds and snag the white whales of the beer world? Sell your soul to the devil and follow these rules.
It’s not playing hooky if you’re a freelancer.
There’s a fundamental paradox here: To be an insufferable beer geek, you’re going to need plenty of expendable income, but also not have much of a job. You simply cannot be stuck in a Thursday afternoon meeting when Other Half releases All Green Everything cans, or have some a-hole boss who won’t allow you to drop everything to sprint to a nearby store. “But they just got Firestone Walker Helldorado in!” That’s why those who are best at acquiring limited releases are often salesmen, photographers, graphic designers, remote technology workers, freelance writers (ahem), or merely unemployed.
Better hope you have frequent flier miles.
И снова аэропорты и города…. Глядя на изменения курса, даже очередная командировка немного настораживает… Но я люблю свою работу! #адя #работа #руцеа #проекты #скайгрупп #кооперативозеро #путешествие #шереметьево #аэрофлот #аэропорт #ялюблюсвоюработу #мероприятие #наша #сила #lesoldatkin #travel #svo #airport #aeroflot #beertravel #projects #rucea #skygroup #lakeunion #workandtravel
Speaking of salesmen, I have one insufferable beer-geek friend whose business travels always have me wondering if he’s not a salesman, but rather a buysman. So often does “work” manage to coincidentally find him in Tampa right around the time of Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s Day, or Boston whenever Trillium releases something interesting, or even Greensboro Bend, Vermont. Outside of farm equipment manufacturers, does anyone have clients in middle-of-nowhere Vermont? My white collar salesman friend somehow does, and these “clients” always need a face-to-face whenever Hill Farmstead has a midweek release of Flora.
If you’re used to buying a 6-pack for $12, this is not a game for you.
There is a cheat—you could actually do well in college, work hard, and become a doctor or lawyer or wealthy finance guy. Then, even if you are stuck in surgery, the courtroom, or a boardroom, you could just have your assistant use your immense bankroll to nab rare bottles through sites like MyBeerCellar.com. Most beer geeks are broke—one more beer release away from going bankrupt—so it’s not too hard for a rich guy to nab price-inflated bottles on the secondary market. Side Project Fuzzy for $350? Seems reasonable! (Photo: Brewdog.com)
Yes, you too will have to wait in line like the other plebs.
Still, being an insufferable beer geek is often democratic—meaning, you’re going to stand in lots of lines. Sure, some breweries have gone to un-gameable lottery-type systems, but most brewery-only releases still necessitate simply queueing up early. These lines will often be in sketchy neighborhoods, bland office parks, amongst warehouses and factories, or perhaps under a highway. There will be very few females in these lines, and even less people who have shaved or hit the gym in the past six months. And unlike other line-waiting experiences that end in a fun roller coaster ride, these lines are a gamble: you’re given the ‘privilege’ of forking over cash for bottles of beer that may not even be delicious.
Stalk social media like a thirteen-year-old.
You’re also going to have to start using social media for something other than creeping on old high school crushes. Following all the important breweries and beer stores on Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram is vital for your ‘health.’ Spend all day monitoring them, not just to inform yourself about upcoming releases, but more importantly, to know within seconds of a surprise, unannounced release. Spend the rest of your spare time on the BeerAdvocate, RateBeer, or TalkBeer forums, strategizing with fellow comrades about what time they’re planning to line up for the next Maine Beer Co. Dinner release, and whether or not the brewery will allow “shares” in their shitty parking lot.
Suck-up to the buyers.
Amazingly, some limited releases still hit the beer section of your supermarket—which means you’ll need an inside man. Next time you’re at Whole Foods or a beverage superstore, chat up the guy stocking the shelves. If he’s not a felon on a work release program, he could very well be the store’s beer buyer. Thus, he’ll know what’s been ordered, and when the shipment will arrive. If you become buddies—or you occasionally grease him with some fresh Bissell Brothers cans—he might hold the next release of Bell’s Black Note in the back for you! Yes, it can be hard for many of us insufferable beer geeks to foster relationships with anything more human than our Untappd friends, but this is the one person in life actually worth talking to. (Photo: Bitteredunits.blogspot.com)
Always give the appearance that you care about your local beer store.
Your Average Joe enters a beer store for an obvious reason: to buy beer. But insufferable beer geeks go into every beer store they pass for the same reason my wife makes me go into every dumb little boutique when we’re on vacation: to see if there’s anything interesting. In both cases, there rarely is. Still, instead of entering, scoffing at all the shelf turds, then exiting, a shrewd beer geek purchases so-called “maintenance” bottles. I know you don’t particularly need a six-pack of Grapefruit Sculpin, but it’s good to show your local beer store owners that, believe it not, you actually spend money on occasion, and that he should keep you in mind when he gets a few bottles of Pappy’s Even More Jesus in stock. (Photo: shopify.com)
Track the cargo relentlessly.
If befriending buyers feels unsavory and figuring out how to unload your maintenance bottles isn’t a task you want to tango with, there’s another way: find beer delivery trucks on the days of “special” deliveries. This is an insufferable beer geek Thetan Level VII move. No, every truck with a Goose Island logo on it is not going to have cases of Bourbon County Stout, even in November. And every guy dollying Blue Moon crates into 7-Eleven isn’t going to know if his truck has Westbrook Mexican Cake on it. But if you know the day something like, say, Founders KBS is slated to drop in your town, then find the route of a truck with those bottles on it, in theory, you could follow the truck from store to store, maxing out your limits on bottles at each location before they’ve even hit the shelves. Many people online will claim that this “truck chaser” is a purely mythical being. That’s simply because, like Donald Trump’s presidency, no one wants to believe it’s real. (Photo: photoremedy.wordpress.com)
Buy more than is reasonable…or allowed.
Had a great time up North in Vermont. Great haul I would say, #thealechemist#3floydsbrewing#hillfarmsteadbrewery#treehousebrewing#14thstarbrewing#lawsonsfinestliquids#sipofsunshine#headytopper#juliusipa#tribuneimperialipa#zombiedust#vermontbeer#beer#beerstagram#beergram#ipa#instabeerofficial#paleales#beernerd#beerhunting#beer#craftbeer#instabeer#beertography#beerzombies #beergramming#beerphoto#beernation#beerhunting#beerporn#beerhaul#beeradventures
Like the recommended “donation” at museums, posted bottle limits are a mere suggestion to an insufferable beer geek. “Limit one four-pack” of Sip of Sunshine? Get real. You deserve several cases and will hit every store in central Vermont until you’ve so succeeded. Toppling Goliath thinks each person merely merits two bottles of Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout? No problem for you—you’ve brought along some drifters to help mule. Jester King has the audacity to only want to sell you a single damn bottle of their latest barrel-aged sour? Make your initial purchase, then loop around to the back of the line with a disguise on. Once you get home, be sure and gloat about your unethical behavior on Instagram.
Form a beer-nerd coalition and embed yourself in as many networks as possible.
You see, an insufferable beer geek needs to buy as many limited release bottles as he possibly can—and screw everyone else—because he needs the ammo. That’s because he’s also joined more groups and organizations than an Upper East Side “lady who lunches.” Muling organizations, online trading clubs, even private Facebook groups. You should also have “proxies” across the country picking up your membership-only bottles from places like The Rare Barrel and The Bruery. You’ll be doing the same thing for them at Schramm’s or Upland. You’re scratching their back and they’re sending you a #porchbomb full of De Garde offerings.
Only share out of necessity.
Pretending you like sharing is ultimately the best way to try all the limited releases you weren’t skillful enough to nab yourself. But how to find a “bottle share”? Though quite sordid, these aren’t advertised in the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist. You’re going to have to find geeks as insufferable as you, most of whom will also be online, or perhaps, on lines. Look for those with facial scruff, an XXL Sante Adairius t-shirt, and frequently using the term “cellar” (even if they store their beer in a “closet.”) You don’t have to become IRL friends with these folks, but you do have to tolerate them if they have a bottle of Barrel-Aged Abraxas they’re willing to split twenty ways with you and some other geeks. Of course, you’re going to have to be willing to share your growler of Tree House Good Morning twenty different ways too. Ever get drunk off one-hundred thimbles of rare beer in some stranger’s kitchen? It’s what being an insufferable beer geek is all about nowadays, and maybe it’s the fate we all deserve.
Aaron Goldfarb (@aarongoldfarb) is the author of How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide, The Guide for a Single Man, and The Guide for a Single Woman.