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You’ve got beermail

Beer trading seems to be a wildly popular activity in the craft beer scene. I’ve especially noticed this phenomena on Instagram as beer nerds flaunt their trades and send props to the original sender. You also get the occasional photo of a dead soldier that didn’t make it through the journey [moment of silence].

I’ve always been intrigued by this notion of trading beers but I’ve never officially participated. I have a brother living in San Diego that sends me stuff on occasion and I return the favor. But, this isn’t a premeditated trade with set dollar values and specific wish lists.

I opened the door for trades with a Twitter follower on the east coast. In talking to him, he suggested that you agree upon a dollar value and suggest brands you want (and obviously can’t buy in your region). Then you take a leap of craft beer faith and send it off in the mail. The other end does the same and sends you your beermail.

On the surface, it is an extremely simple transaction dating back to the beginning of mankind as nomads began running into other peeps. I have questions about the value equity portion of the trade. Do you operate off retail value alone? Does rarity factor into the mix? Is it combination of the two? Perhaps that is something you have to work out in advance with the other party but that could be difficult if one side already put together their box and shipped it.

Let’s say Johnny Hops in Northern California just raided Russian River and sent you 10 bottles of their finest brews. These aren’t cheap and are of a somewhat limited quantity. Joey Malts in Chicago is an avid Three Floyds collector and has a box of five years worth of Dark Lord bottles in duplicate. These are far more rare and worth more on the gray market. Now what?

I’m probably over thinking the whole process but I’d like to learn more about the activity. I’d also like to use it as an opportunity to spread the gospel of Cincinnati craft but I get back to that whole value thing above. Although, it may be hard to compare the value of some Blank Slate/Triple Digit Determination to a couple of cans of Heady Topper.

Do you have experience with trading? What have your experiences been? What should I be thinking about? Have you done local trades? Share your knowledge in the comments below, please. Yes, I can search the popular beer review sites but I’d like to hear about your experiences.

P.S. – I’m not fully aware of all the legalities of the said activities above so to be clear, this is all a theoretical academic discussion and not to be misconstrued as endorsed advice or instruction.

P.P.S. – If you’ve never mailed beers, here is a great tutorial on proper packaging.

Mike Stuart

Craft beer enthusiast and hombrew dabbler. Part-time writer, sometimes funny.