Planning a Stoutcation to Asheville, NC!

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My youngest son turned 21 last year and he wanted to go to Asheville for a birthday present with his older brother and me.  Unfortunately, our schedules didn’t align and it never happened.  Well, he recently celebrated his 22nd birthday and we have been able to find time on our calendars during the weekend of November 4-6 to celebrate his birthday, where we will 2016-03-20_193601943_CB164_iOShead to Asheville and enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Asheville brewery scene.

Our tentative schedule will take us to Oskar Blues in Brevard, Sierra Nevada in Mills River, and Burial, Twin Leaf, Wicked Weed, and Hi-Wire in the Asheville South Slope district.  I hope to show the boys that craft beer is more about quality than quantity and to teach them that the breweries put their heart and soul into brewing a beverage that is to be savored and enjoyed rather than chugged.  I am especially excited to visit Oskar Blues,
where we will be attending their BA Ten Fidy release party!  I will certainly be picking up some stovepipe cans to bring back home!!2016-09-11_193500051_76a0c_ios

It will be a fun weekend.  I enjoy the company of my two boys and getting together for a weekend in Asheville should be a good time.  Asheville is a laid back place and it’s a great place to people watch.  I hope to park the car and Uber to all of our locations so we won’t need to worry about driving.  I’d rather spend some money to get us around the area than a lot of money dealing with a court case!

I hope to speak to as many of the brewmasters as I can about their Stout offerings and will share their thoughts in a future blog.  I’m looking forward to the weekend and I’d like any and all recommendations or insights you would be willing to share about Asheville and their craft beer community.  What did you do in Asheville that we should do?

 

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No time like the present!

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I have a few Stouts in my inventory that I would consider “baby whales”….not the KBBS or Morning Delight type of whales, but Stouts that I own that I consider tough to get.   Many of these are probably easy to get for others – depending on where you live – but they aren’t available locally and I had to make a trade to put them in my Stout fridge.  The Abyss, Parabola, BCBS Rare, and Pirate Paradise are examples of what I consider tough to get.  For those wondering, a “whale” in craft beer vernacular are those beers that for some reason are incredibly difficult to get, whether through a limited bottle release, a brewery only release, or a small distribution area.  People wait in lines for these beers, buy tickets to get these “whales”, or make trades to get their hands on these rare bottles.

I’ve always had the mentality that I should wait for something before I open my rare beers.   An important event in my life or something to celebrate.  I opened and enjoyed a bottle of Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout at my daughter’s wedding and have a bottle of BCBS 2015 Rare waiting for the birth of my first grandchild.   Recently, I attended a funeral which caused me to reflect and ask myself why am I waiting for a special event?  Do I really need something special to crack open a special Stout?   Perhaps I split the difference – save a bottle of two for truly unique events (weddings, births) and enjoy the others when the 2016-10-09_16-06-38_118muse hits me.

I took advantage of my new thinking recently, when I opened my 2014 vintage of The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery in Oregon.   It tasted great and I savored every sip.  The incredible notes of molasses and licorice with a hint of the barrel aging told me that I had timed the aging well.   I truly enjoyed this stout and I am certainly seeking another bottle for my cellar!   I certainly was happy I chose  this “carpe diem” path!

When do you decide when to open your whales?  Anytime? Special events?  Share your thoughts!

Trading Stouts – Part 2

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A follow up from my last post on my Pirate Paradise trade with my new Tulsa friend, Michael Holland.  I received my package as promised on Monday.  Michael took a lot of time and effort to wrap and pack each piece – a sign of an experienced trader!!  2016-10-03_15-41-34_413As I gingerly unwrapped each piece, I felt as I was unwrapping Christmas presents…..only to determine I didn’t receive what we had agreed on!  I took some photos and sent a note to Michael, who quickly responded, apologized, and said he would make everything good!  An honest mistake! My second shipment will be arriving tomorrow which will make the trade complete.  This was my first experience with receiving a growler.  Michael took extra care to wrap the growler and it arrived in perfect condition.  The contents of the growler was a brewery only special of Cinnamon Pecan BOMB!   When I opened the growler, it appeared to have lost a bit of carbonation, but regular BOMB! isn’t really all that carbonated to begin with, so it wasn’t a big deal.  What was a big deal was the incredible cinnamon and pecan notes of this amazing Stout.  I must say that this is easily one of the 2016-10-07_17-04-46_338top stouts of the year that I’ve had the privilege to taste!  An amazing and complex combination of sweet and heat.  The cinnamon and nutty tastes followed by the bit of heat that the base BOMB! provides made this Stout a memorable one.  As I was finishing the final couple of drops, I was sad knowing I may never get the chance to have this Prairie Artisan Ales elixir again.  Consider this my humble request to the Prairie brewmasters to consider brewing this again with a distribution to my house!    That said, I am looking forward to cracking open the Pirate Paradise and seeing if it will be as amazing as I expect it will!   Thanks to Michael Holland and the good people at Prairie Artisan Ales in Oklahoma for the opportunity to taste a Stout of this World beverage!

I also had an interesting online experience yesterday that I’d like to share and perhaps get your thoughts on.  Yesterday was Morning Delight Release Day.  Morning Delight is a legendary stout that is brewed on occasion by Toppling Goliath in Deborah, Iowa.  It is a brewery only release with no distribution and yesterday was the release of their 2016 vintage.  It is a very difficult Stout to get and Toppling Goliath deftly and wisely uses the various online beer trading networks as their distribution network (as they do for KBBS, Assassin,  and SR-71).  Toppling Goliath posted a welcome for those attending Release Day on their Facebook page and I took the opportunity to post a comment with a trade proposal (ISO:FT) for a bottle of Morning Delight.
Well, apparently I must have violated a few unwritten rules because I was the subject of ridicule from some – some mocking me for my apparent low ball trade offer, some admonishing me for making such an offer on Facebook, and some just piling on for the sake of piling on.  While I had a mind to respond in kind, I chose not to as it would not have been a productive use of anyone’s time.  My normal thinking is that if something doesn’t impact me or doesn’t interest me, I move on.   I was merely attempting to create some interest in a trade and to start a discussion with anyone that would be interested in what I had to offer….and I also added a “+” to my offer as an indication that I was willing to negotiate and add to my offer.   Unless you make your interest known, you will never make a trade, so you need to put your offer out there and hope someone is interested in what you have to offer….if there is no interest, then “crickets”.  If there is, we talk — see my previous post and my update at the top of this post!   Oh well, live and learn….by the way, I’m still interested in acquiring a bottle of Morning Delight – if you have a bottle of the 2016 vintage and would be willing to negotiate a trade, please reach out to me at rick@stoutwhisper.com.

Have a great Stout week!

Trading Stouts

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The concept of beer trading is an interesting one.  While there are many online websites that discuss the how-to’s and enable trading, I want to spend a few minutes discussing the  emotions of a trade.  The basic premise to trading is to use your inventory to acquire beers that you otherwise couldn’t get, either because of geographical distribution, limited distribution, or you just want more of a specific beer.

I’ve traded a few times with some really good people whom I’ve never met.  California, Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma all are home to some great people who are also great beer traders.  I’ve been able to taste beers that I would otherwise never get to taste and hopefully my trading partners would be able to say the same.   The anatomy of a trade is an interesting one; since I’m not really what you would call an active trader or a known trader in the beer trading community, I’m usually the initiator when I want to make a trade.

For example, I’m in the middle of a trade with a good person in Oklahoma, Michael Holland.   The good people at Prairie Artisan Ales recently had a brewery only release of Pirate Paradise Stout…and I really wanted to get a couple of bottles.  If you’ve been reading 2016-08-18_213816124_15B6A_iOSany of my blog posts, tweets, or Instagram posts, you probably know that I am a big fan of any and all stouts that PAA releases.    I love Pirate Bomb! and I also loved the glass of 2016-06-25_194332518_27367_iOSParadise I was fortunate enough to taste at a local establishment, so I had to have Pirate Paradise!

I threw out a feeler on the PAA Facebook page and Mr. Holland kindly responded.  We went back and forth and quickly settled on the exchange.  I was willing to “overpay” since I was the initiator and Michael was pleased with the deal.  Now to turn the deal into reality.  I spent a good hour packing up the bottles and glassware to insure it would make it safely to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Bubble wrap, bubble wrap, styrofoam noodles, and more bubble wrap. The last thing I would want is to have Michael open a box of broken glassware or to have a bottle break during the shipment.  I’ve read too many accounts of broken bottles or opened packages by the shipper so I tend to overpack.  My shipper of choice is UPS so my next stop is to the UPS Store to send it on it’s way.  It’s usually $20-30 to ship a box so it’s important to pack it well enough so it gets to it’s destination safely.

Well, my box of goodies made it to Tulsa in one piece and I am anxiously awaiting my delivery from Michael – it’s scheduled to be delivered tomorrow.  Part of my emotion is relief that my package made it safely so Michael can enjoy the contents and the other part is the anticipation of getting something in the mail that I am really excited about!   I’m looking forward to coming home from work tomorrow with a box on my doorstep!

Fortunately, I’ve not had a negative experience in any of my beer trades.  I’m not a frequent trader, but I do consider myself to be an experienced trader and I do my best to make sure my trading partners are happy.

Do you have any trading stories that you are willing to share?  Good, bad, or ugly?  Any tips you want to share with us?  Leave a comment so we can all learn….