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!

 

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!