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. 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 Nuts
- 1 Oddsides Ales Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Mayan Mocha
- 2016 Dark Lord
- Perennial Abraxas
- Firestone Walker Parabajava
- Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout
- Cigar City Caffe Americano
- Cigar City Vanilla Hazelnut Marshall Zhukov
- The Bruery Black Tuesday
- 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
- Prairie BA Christmas Bomb!
and with some additional help from my inventory, I was also able to acquire:
- Goose Island Bourbon County Proprietor’s Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout
- 2 Alchemist Heady Topper
- 4 Alchemist Focal Banger
- 4 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!
3 thoughts on “The Art of the Deal (Stout Trading)”
Awesome story! I too am a Stout fan first and foremost with IPA/DIPA’s being a close second. Anyways, your article has great info on how the scene works and I’ll be forwarding it to a few buddies of mine that are on the fence about trading….
I myself am new to trading and using a site called the Beer Exchange (BEX). I’ve completed 6 trades in the last month, all of which ran smooth but unfortunately did get stung on one trade though. Hoping it’s an isolated incident and not something that most people in the trading community encounter.
Long story short: He proposed a trade to me. He offered a 2016 Black Tuesday, 2015 Hanger 24 Barrel Roll No. 3 Pugachev’s Cobra and a 2015 Cognac Abyss. I was to give up a 2012 BCBS, Prairie AB Noir, Scotty Karate BA Scotch Ale, Central Waters BA Stout (x2) and 1 Central Waters BA Cassian Sunset. I agreed to the deal and packed and shipped his beer out within a day or two. He confirmed receipt of my shipment a few days later. Well, it’s going on 3 weeks now and he’s never provided a tracking number to me. He did maintain communication for awhile and provided some stalls/excuses but now has conveniently dropped off the face of the earth. Major bummer….I got played like a fiddle.
I’m trying not to let this person scare me away from future trading. My love of trying new beers and meeting others who share my appreciation for the craft will hopefully keep me involved in trading.
Have you encountered any bad eggs in the beer trading community? Any tips on what we as noobs should look for to ensure a legit trade takes place?
Thanks for reading and sorry for the long rant. 🙂
Scott, great post! First of all, don’t let a bad trade get you down. As much as we love our beer….remember, it’s only beer! A couple of thoughts on how to avoid future bad eggs. First, stick to established trading forums that enable traders to grade or rate other traders – and then trade with only those with positive reputations. Second, if you are on Facebook trading groups, feel free to ask the group for a reference check on a trader. Third, and as a last resort, don’t be afraid to contact the trading admin and call out the suspected bad egg (SBE). If the SBE is truly a BE, then there probably is a trail of one way trades. Reporting the SBE may prevent others from trading with the individual.
The next thing you should do is get back on the horse and make a trade and wash the taste of a bad trade out of your mouth. As you said, trading enables you to sample new breweries, new styles, and new flavors. Trading also helps you to build a network of traders that you can trust and trade with in the future. I’ve built up a network from San Diego to Boston, from Michigan to Oklahoma, and many in between that I can reach out and trade with. It takes time to create your trading network, but it’s worth it.
Finally, whenever I ship a box out, I remind myself….it’s only beer! If someone chooses to not follow through, it’s on them, not on me…..and I move on to another trade!
Hope that helps! Cheers!!
Good Moring and thanks for the quick and well thought out reply!
The SBE only had 2 completed trades under his belt but had a 5 star rating so I figured I’d take a chance. Maybe I should have waited for him to ship first and provide a tracking number before I sent mine out since he’s newer than I to the site. Meh, coulda, woulda, shoulda……Lesson learned the hard way I guess.
I’m going to give the SBE one more week and then report him to the site admin to hopefully prevent this from happening to others. He has a TON of beers in his cellar inventory “pending trade”, including mine, which means he may have done this to multiple people at once. I really hope that’s not the case.
Thankfully I didn’t send him any crown jewels of my collection or it may have been a harder pill to swallow. 🙂
You’re absolutely right, it’s just beer. When you say that it makes the idea of getting upset about it seem juvenile. The positive experiences I’ve had far outweigh this one negative incident so I’m going to dust myself off and continue building a network of friends that I can trade great beers with!
I came home to some beer mail yesterday after a longs days work and it reminded me that there are plenty of others out there that you can trust.