The Art of the Deal (Stout Trading)

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While our President-elect may have written a best selling book about dealing, my guess is that he wasn’t talking about trading craft beer…..and this is the topic for today’s blogpost.   Trading beer is an art and a science;  it’s an art in the fact that one needs to know when to say yes (or no) and it’s a science in understanding what the current value is for the beer you are trading and the beer you are trading for.     Some beers have higher values due to their scarcity or newness; some have higher values due to their name/brand/reputation.

Readers of my blog know I recently took a trip to Asheville with my two sons.  I was fortunate enough to come home with some Oskar Blues Barrel Aged TENFIDY, Java Barrel Aged TENFIDY, and some Wicked Weed Dark Arts. 2016-11-08_18-40-47_072 While I knew these were quality Stouts, I also knew they would be good Stout Currency in the world of trading, as these were relatively rare due to their quantity and availability.

Over the course of the last 3 weeks, I have been able to turn 11 Java BA TENFIDY, 11 BA TENFIDY, and 2 bottles of Dark Arts into:

  • 4 Bell’s Black Note Stout (2016)
  • 1 Oddsides Ales Hazels Nuts2016-12-10_12-51-57_081
  • 1 Oddsides Ales Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Mayan Mocha
  • 2016-12-10_12-54-04_4872016 Dark Lord
  • Perennial Abraxas
  • Firestone Walker Parabajava
  • Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout
  • 2016-12-10_12-52-57_113Cigar City Caffe Americano
  • Cigar City Vanilla Hazelnut Marshall Zhukov
  • The Bruery Black Tuesday2016-12-10_12-56-29_309
  • Lawson’s Apple Brandy Fayston Maple Imperial Stout
  • Long Trail Barrel Aged Unearthed Stout
  • Hill Farmstead Twilight of the Idols
  • Bourbon Barrel Dark Horse Plead the 5th
  • Westbrook Tequila Mexican Cake
  • Prairie Sherry Barrel  Noir
  • 2016-12-10_12-54-58_960Prairie BA Christmas Bomb!2016-12-10_12-55-29_629

and with some additional help from my inventory, I was also able to acquire:

  • Goose Island Bourbon County Proprietor’s Stout2016-12-10_12-57-30_240
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout
  • 2 Alchemist Heady Topper
  • 4 Alchemist Focal Banger
  • 2016-12-10_12-59-56_5864 Alchemist Beelzebub
  • 1 Fiddlehead Second Fiddle
  • 1 Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, I’m really pleased as to what I’ve been able to acquire and I believe my trading partners have been pleased as to what they’ve received from me!  I’m a big believer of dollar for dollar trading (known as “$4$” in the trading world), meaning that the trade should be equivalent in terms of money spent.  The only caviat to that is knowing what stouts are more rare or are in high demand – which may require a bit more to close the deal.  That’s where the art comes in….knowing when to add a bit more to seal the deal and knowing when to walk away from a trade when someone is asking too much for the trade.  I’ve walked away from trades and I’ve also knowingly overpaid because I really wanted to acquire a Stout that’s been on my want list for a long time!  But that’s OK….it’s only beer!

In fact, I just closed two additional trades today:

  • 4 2016 KBS for a 2016 Surly Darkness
  • 3 Prairie AB Noir and a Birthday Bomb for a 2016 Hardywood Kentucky Christmas Morning and a Gingerbread Stout

As in any trade or negotiation, there is the thrill of the chase and the excitement of closing the deal.  However, once the deal is sealed, reality sinks in and the downside of trading rears it’s ugly head.  Besides having to pack the beer well enough to withstand a nuclear blast, the cost of shipping…..whether it’s UPS or FedEx, shipping is not cheap.   I guess I rationalize the cost knowing that it’s usually close to a wash between what I pay for shipping and what my trading partner has to pay.   That being said, shipping costs do add up after a few trades and one must consider whether it’s worth it.  In fact, I’m leaning toward more in-person (IP) trades moving forward.   A couple of these trades were in person and it was great to not deal with packing and the shipping costs and I got to meet some other local craft beer traders.  It’s just a matter of finding local trading partners who have access to those non-local or rare Stouts that I am seeking.

How does one get into trading?  The number of online trading forums are many; I lean toward the Beer Advocate forum but there are many others – Reddit, TalkBeer, and on Facebook, there is the Rare Beer Seekers page along with a good number of local craftbeer pages that encourage and facilitate in person trading.  It’s a pretty straightforward process – you either post your wants (ISO=In Search Of) and what you are willing to trade (FT=For Trade) or you scour the posts to see if there is something you can accommodate.  Then you either receive a DM (Direct Message) or you initiate one to start the trading dance.  Then it’s all about time and patience…..and it either consummates in a deal or you move on to other opportunities!

I will continue to chase the trade; I have a lot of Stouts that I think others may find appealing so I will continue to chase my whales (Toppling Goliath’s Mornin’ Delight and Funky Buddha’s Morning Wood are at the top of my list) and hope others will find my inventory appealing and worth trading for!

Do you have any trading tips?  What’s your best or worst trade?  Any horror stories that you would like to share?  We would all like to learn so if you have anything to share, please do so!

 

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My 2nd Annual Epic Weekend!

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Long time readers of this blog will recall my post back in May that reviewed the release of Epic Brewing’s Son of a Baptist, a non barrel aged version of Big Bad Baptist brewed with a assortment of local coffee beans.  Here in North Carolina, we were treated to the version made with Larry’s Coffee.  That was a wonderful stout and a great weekend!

Fast forward to today…..the innovative brewmasters at Epic recently decided to add a couple of members to the Baptist family:
Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist, where the green coffee beans are aged in bourbon barrels for an added punch of bourbon depth and flavor

Big Bad Baptista, where Big Bad Baptist travels to Mexico and adds cinnamon, vanilla, special cacao nibs and Mexican coffee to complement the Big Bad Baptist Stout flavor

The good people at Epic (thanks Matthew!) provided me with an early preview of these relatives of Big Bad Baptist for which I am very thankful for.  I set aside this weekend to sample each and provide my feedback/thoughts.

Friday – Big Bad Baptist (release #73)

As always, Big Bad Baptist delivers an amazing taste experience.  This is a Stout that has 2016-12-02_17-21-18_857just the right flavor notes.  This release of BBB used the Guatemalan Blend of Blue Copper Coffee which provided a nice smoothness to the overall taste.  While there definitely is a barrel flavor to BBB, there is also a smoothness to it.  The coffee and the cocoa nibs really help to balance the taste.  As I’ve said before, Big Bad Baptist is one of my go to Stouts, as I can always count on it’s amazing taste and consistency.   It’s one of my baseline standard Stouts and is one that I can count on when I just need that reset as to what a barrel aged Stout should taste like.

Saturday – Big Bad Baptista (release #1)

Not sure what to expect, but after tasting and savoring the spices and flavors, this is my clear favorite.  I must admit to having a bias toward Stouts with some flavor and spice to 2016-12-03_15-39-44_970them so it’s not altogether surprising that Baptista had me at hello.  From the first sip to the final swallow, I was mesmerized.  Cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa nibs and coffee notes took over and really captured all of my senses.  Baptista hit all of the right notes for me and I can’t wait to open another bottle!  This was the best of the weekend.

Sunday – Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist (release #1)

After Baptista, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  DBBBB 2016-12-04_15-10-24_906differentiates itself by using coffee beans that were aged in bourbon barrels, adding additional complexity and depth.  I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to differentiate DBBBB from BBB, but indeed I could.  It’s tough to explain, but DBBBB had a bit more “woodiness” to it versus BBB.  It was quite enjoyable to savor this on a Sunday afternoon watching NFL RedZone.   DBBBB engaged me and is a worthy relative of BBB!

After taste testing all three, it was clear that they are all different from each other and hit different taste profiles.  For me, Big Bad Baptista was the clear winner, but I could also understand how others would be attracted to Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist or Big Bad Baptist, as each are complex and have taste profiles and characteristics that are attractive.

That’s the beauty about the art and science of brewing Stouts.  The variations of coffee, cocoa nibs, malts, and other added variants can make such an incredible difference in the nose and taste of a Stout.  Throw in the variations of barrel aging – the type of barrel (bourbon, scotch, rum, wine, tequila), the distiller and the time spent in the barrel all also impact the depth of flavor and the taste.  Some have a wonderful smoothness to them, others have a bit of a bite to them which tend to mellow over time.

The brewmasters at Epic certainly seem to have the recipe down….they stay true to what makes Big Bad Baptist so successful yet are willing to venture out and introduce us to others in the Baptist family.  Usually there are some bad apples in every family, but as far as I’m concerned, every Epic Baptist Stout is one that I would seek out!

Thanks to the good people at Epic Brewing, I’ve been baptized again!  Thanks again for the early release and keep up the incredible work!!  I’m already looking forward to my next Epic weekend!!