Tuesday, 7 September 2010

International Beer-Geekery

I had a very nice evening out last night. I went for a beer with Rick Kempen of Bier & Co, who was in town for the night. He very kindly brought me the bottles shown in the photo, and I paid him back with bottle of Fuller's Gale's Prize Old Ale 2007. As we swapped bottles in the pub, his colleague Gaius Voûte commented that we looked like a pair of beer geeks. We were pleased, but I don't think he meant it as a compliment.

There's something nice about making a gift of beer from home, whether that's me taking some proper Yorkshire beer down to the family in Wiltshire, or swapping beers in person with a foreign visitor. It reminds of the time in the late 80s that I used to visit friends in New York - I'd always take some English beer with me as a gift, although the 4 pint carry-out keg of Tanglefoot didn't travel too well. They let me take it on as hand luggage. No, honestly, they did - it was acceptable in the 80s.

Taking it a stage further, there's always the trading forums on Ratebeer and Beer Advocate if you really need to swap something to get something (you need to be logged in to view them). I've never done that, and would be interested to hear if anyone has any stories of success or failure either way - not for any journalistic (bloggeristic?) reason, but I'm just curious. Plus a Facebook buddy who lives near to Russian River has suggested we trade bottles (hi Will, if you're reading this). Obviously the cost of postage doesn't make financial sense, but I like the idea that beer geeks on different continents will happily send each other rarities at their own respective expense.

It could be like the Cameron-Obama beer summit, only with good beer.



  1. Okay dokey,

    I'll swap you some Carlsbergs for those old Ale's in the picture.

  2. Definitely a big fan of bringing local beers to appreciative audiences elsewhere, and getting gifts from visitors, obviously.

    But having beer posted (either commercially or as a favour) just seems soulless to me. If you desperately want to drink Beer X, you should get off your arse and go to wherever it's available. You'll feel better for having made the trip.

  3. Cookie - you're on. A couple of pallets should do it.

    TBN - that's a very good point, although personal circumstances can sometimes dictate otherwise. But you're right, the closer to the source you get, the better it is, both taste-wise and emotionally.

  4. That soo
    Cool! That's kinda what got us started with beerswap!!

  5. The conundrum of the beer hunter! Travel, shop or buy?

    If I could afford to or was able to convince my wife to fly over Oregon I wouldn't need to pay premium prices for Hair of the Dog beers. But there are many great retailers selling amazing beers from overseas. This should fulfill my desire for wonderful world-class ale but I still want the ones I can't find.

    I guess there in lays a certain quality found in many men, the collector!

    If I could find a shop selling Russian River, Cigar City and Ommegang beers, I'm sure I'd buy them all then I’d want the next rare beer I couldn't get.

    I did travel to Belgium and drank Westvleteren and aged Geuze in The Kulminator. I do travel to Manchester to drink Marble beers at The Marble Arch and the Sheffield Tap to quaff Thornbridge. But those trips are within my financial limits.

    Thankfully some very generous people have brought me beer back from the states and whenever I can get them something special from my travels I'll do the same.

    I'd love to go the San Francisco Beer week but that isn't going to happen. But I'm sure I'll be back in Italy within the next two years or maybe a short break in Copenhagen to visit the Mikkeller bar and I'll no doubt pick up some bottles for friends.

  6. A couple of pallets of pong in exchange for a couple of cans of cooking?. You are a generous man, Sir. I shall never laugh at the wine glass again. A gent, you are.

  7. I was lucky enough to try those three bottles to the right at the staff party after GBBF, one of the BSF managers brought them to share. I appreciated the gesture but didn't really enjoy them - obviously had a very jaded palate by then - so went back to drinking Karg Dunkles Weiss IIRC!

    I actually rarely pick up local bottled beers, but after doing two days as cellar manager at the Durham Beer Festival I came home with a good selection of Durham Brewery beers, and one from Hill Island Brewery - I may even get round to drinking them one day!

  8. I always think that buying and sharing unusual beers is hugely convivial. Your reference to beer geekery and the De Molen bottles is very timely - in a couple of weeks De Molen will be hosting one of the geekiest beer events ever - the Borefts Beer Festival. The (largely complete) list is here:


    You will see our very own Marble crew will be there amonst the great and good of European brewing.

  9. it was acceptable in the 80s.
    youll get a letter re copyright!

  10. BR Andy - I don't know why I never went in for beerswap - I think it's a great idea, but it somehow never quite grabbed me.

    Rob - that's my dilemma too! There are some beers that you feel you NEED to try, and getting them by any means necessary seems justified to me. It's sort of like of like what Woody Allen said about sex without love - emotionally, it's an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it's one of the best.

    Chris - you're in for a treat with those Durham beers - I think they are very good quality indeed.

    John - that looks like an amazing event (by which I mean, that sets off the beer geek alarms in my head)

    Anon - well spotted!

  11. Beer is a fantastic present. It's delicious, cheap and everyone likes it.
    It's the ultimate 'it's the thought that counts' jesture because its so cheap everyone can afford it and yet, it's always appreciated.

  12. Anon - you're quite right about it being the perfect gift - and then they drink it and you can do it all over again next birthday/christmas/whatever


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