A rather average looking cardboard box was on my porch today when I came home, but the contents were anything but average. Within the box was a Three Floyds Dark Lord Imperial Stout. Any beer geek that has perused the top rated beers at Beer Advocate or Rate Beer will know that this is a highly regarded beer that is very hard to come by. As a matter of fact, the beer is only available one day of the year at the site of the brewery, known as Dark Lord Day amongst beer enthusiasts. That day happened to coincide with my wedding anniversary this year, and although my wife loves me it would have been difficult convincing her to spend several hours in Muncie, Indiana waiting in line to get one. But thankfully I have met and traded with several people online, and I was lucky that one of my new friends was able to secure a bottle for me.
Beer trading is easier than you think. There are forums dedicated to the practice at both Beer Advocate and at Rate Beer. All you need is access to good local beer that someone in another part of the country wants to try. It may take a little coaxing if you are brand new to trading, but before long you will be trading and meeting new friends from all over the United States. I'm fortunate to have received a variety of beers, including the Westvleteren 12, considered by many to be the best beer in the world, Three Floyds Dreadnaught Double IPA, one of the finest double IPA's in the country, Alpine Beer Company's Great Ale, a strong ale aged in Jack Daniels barrels, and many others. If I tried to get these beers at their source, I would have racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles. In addition to getting great beers from far away places, it's just as rewarding to know that you can send some of our great local beers to other folks so they can see how good we stack up with the rest of the country. I have gotten great feedback from sending Highland's Tasgall and Cold Mountain Ales, as well as Pisgah's Baptista and Vortex II, in addition to some regional and East Coast beers that aren't available in other areas.
So what are you waiting for? Get your cardboard box and your bubble wrap ready, and explore the wonderful world of beer without having to go further than your nearest package store (I highly recommend Corner Post on Haywood in West Asheville).