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!