Craft Beer Trophy Hunters

20120811_162728There is a topic in the beer world that has been bothering me for a while and I’ve been working on a way to put it into words. It’s been a little bit of a struggle to find exactly how to write this piece in a way that is more constructive than harsh. I’m going to give it a go here and we’ll see what happens.

A number of conversations I’ve had, mostly through social media, have been about problems with craft beer “trophy hunters.” Trophy hunters are the beer drinkers who constantly seek out limited release beers and then brag about the rare beers they are drinking. It is almost like they have a checklist of every hard to find beer with a high score on Beer Advocate and they are in some competition (against God-knows-who) to see who can finish the whole checklist. After they have tried one of these beers they immediately give it another high score on the rating sites, along with a self-congratulatory review mentioning how they waited in line for hours to track this trophy down. I don’t think that spending an entire day waiting outside a brewery for a beer release is something to be lauded, but to each their own I guess.

I understand the appeal of chasing down rare beers that are lauded in craft beer circles. If I come across a can of Heady Topper that somehow made its way into MA, I am probably buying it. My parents were in California in December and I mentioned a few beers that I wouldn’t mind receiving as a Christmas present should they happen to come across them. The issue I have is with how mindless the whole process of trophy chasing is. Why spend so much time looking for rare beers that other people brag about trying when you could put that effort into tasting a wider range of readily available brews and forming your own opinions? There are amazing beers being brewed all over the country, stop by a local brewery and do a tasting, you might find something that is delicious and no one is talking about yet. If you go into a good bottle shop and tell them you love Heady Topper, but don’t feel like driving to Vermont in February I’m sure they will recommend a number of delicious DIPAs that they have on hand. Your friendly local beer blogger is also available to make recommendations. Finally, as a favor to me, the next time you find one of these trophies, grab some friends and a bunch of local beers of the same style and do a blind tasting. I think you’ll be surprised that the trophy beer isn’t head and shoulders better than the more widely available competition.

While beer drinkers who seek out trophy beers for their own enjoyment can be annoying, there is another group that is far worse. Those are the people who buy up rare beers to re-sell for a profit. If you are the person who buys up cases of a limited release only to resell them on the internet for profit, fuck you. First off, what you are doing is illegal. Secondly, it just sucks for everyone else. If you live in MA and you trade some bottles of Trillium to a guy in CA in exchange for some Russian River I have no problem with that, but buying up beers to sell for a profit is garbage. I saw a post recently where a guy was trying to sell 7 bottles of BCBS for $1000. I hope nobody is dumb enough to take him up on that. I know it can be tempting to pay a little extra to buy rare beers online, but please resist the urge, all it does is support those sub-trolls that make the beer impossible to find in the first place.

That is about all I have to say about trophy hunters. I have no problem if you occasionally go out of your way to track something down that you haven’t had before, or even something you’ve loved in the past. Just don’t make it the entire goal of your beer experience. There are so many innovative and delicious beers being produced locally and nationally. Head to your local brewery or bottle shop – you might be surprised with what you discover!

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