Overzealous beer geekery: "back to basics"?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Dennoman, Jan 13, 2013.

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  1. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    With some of these weird-ass threads being opened recently, here's my question for tonight:

    Has anyone ever felt like it was all going a little too fast? Over the last few weeks, I've been feeling I should be taking a step back from "whale slaying" or whatever it's called now and should start focussing on the basics.

    I've only been into beers properly for the last year and a half or so, and in that time I've had the luck and pleasure of meeting some amazing people that hooked me up with equally stellar beer, but I feel like I should just step back and enjoy the humbler things in life.

    I had Heady Topper before I'd had Hop Stoopid, I had Bourbon County before Ten Fidy, etc. etc.

    Now of course, the fact I'm European does mean the whales are ironically easier to get for me since they're really the only thing that makes international trading somewhat interesting, but I feel like I'm missing out on the opportunity to educate my palate. After Heady Topper, Pliny, Zombie Dust et cetera, I finally got started on the Mikkeller Single Hop series, for instance.

    That's why I decided to start doing $4$ non-whale only trade packages internationally, my somewhat off-the-shelf Belgians for your recommended locals. First one is about to go out, we'll see how it goes. Nice to have seen a couple people do this as well, as the trading landscape was getting increasingly competitive and extreme.

    tl;dr: Have you ever felt like stepping back from the big whales and concentrating on those little-time wants?
  2. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    You've just described my whole philosophy to beer trading and beer in general. Mostly though I just 'let it happen' in the knowledge that whales fall into my lap without forcing the issue.
  3. sirsteve42

    sirsteve42 Defender (672) Jan 15, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Ill trade you some of that awesome local Antwerp Gin for some beer!
    JxExM likes this.
  4. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Constantly. I focus on "little-time wants" almost exclusively and leave the "whale slaying" to the chumps. Ok, "chumps" is excessive, some of those whales are damn good.
    Onenote81, creepinjeeper and Bung like this.
  5. alexipa

    alexipa Devotee (439) Oct 7, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I hunted for whales for a couple months before I realized most of them were equal or worse than what I can find off the shelf for cheaper. Most of them, but not all.

    My philosophy is if I see one in a beer store I'll grab it, but I wont go out of my way for anything hyped or crazy highly rated anymore. I say good for you!
  6. mattafett

    mattafett Initiate (0) Mar 9, 2009 Iowa

    I recently did a nice locals for locals trade. Basic stuff is always interesting.
    JxExM likes this.
  7. RobertColianni

    RobertColianni Zealot (524) Nov 4, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I think it's really cool that you've come to this point in life. It's good for the scene. I feel like beer has become a huge fad, recently, and many newcomers are getting into the scene by just naming/chasing the popular whales instead of appreciating the entire world of alcoholic beverages. Many new guys on the scene are unfortunately in my age group (mid-20's) and don't really take the time to find their own niche, but rather chase what everyone else rates highly. There is plenty to learn about the entire history of beer as well as what once evolved into beer. Simplicity really will teach you more than complexity in the long run. So goes with brewing if you ever get into that. Simple recipes with alternating yeast brings out just as much flavor as packing in tons of hops, fruit, and grains. Learn the roots before trying to appreciate the complex blends and you will appreciate those complexities ten fold. As they say, walk before you run.
    therobot, jasonmason, dannyz and 14 others like this.
  8. timc100

    timc100 Disciple (378) Aug 13, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Agreed. It's difficult to not get caught up in the hype. I speak as someone who is relatively new and needs to take a reality check every once in a while. I am fortunate to live in Chicago and have access to many spectacular beers, but still find myself day dreaming about the BA Speedway's and what not. Great to get back to the basics, because, aren't they what got us into this to begin with? Now to crack open a mirror pond pale...
  9. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (355) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Completely agree, i've decided to make 2013 a year of beer drinking, instead of 2011/2012 which were whale hunting and shelf stacking. My ethos for this year is "drink more beer".
  10. fujindemon74

    fujindemon74 Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Weyerbacher Insanity is my poor man's Sucaba (though I still love me some Sucaba).
  11. jhartley

    jhartley Poo-Bah (2,426) Aug 22, 2010 Florida
    Beer Trader

    I like to read about the whales, but whether I can get them or not doesn't bother me. I drink what I find interesting to me.
    VonZipper and timwmccann like this.
  12. RobertColianni

    RobertColianni Zealot (524) Nov 4, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I am lucky to live just outside Philadelphia with access to great craft pubs around every corner. Not tons of competition, so everyone has decent prices and wants to spread beer advocacy, talk about beer, build friendships, and even meet up outside of work. If you're going to Total Wine and trading online for whales (which other people call whales, but may not even be a style you understand, yet) you're missing the entire experience that this site was built on. One of my first jobs was at John Harvard's Brew House. I didn't know much, but I got to learn the basics of brewing from a guy named Keith. A kid named Ian worked with me and eventually lived right by my first apartment a few years later. He suggested going to a local pub. A few years ago, I met up with Todd and Jason in Philly and talked brewing with Todd for a good half hour. I'm a nobody, but I know my stuff (no matter how much of an asshole I come off to be) because I love learning, talking, drinking, and brewing with people that love the same. That's what beer advocacy is, and although it's cool to trade for rare beer, you're missing the entire point, experience, and scene that is fucking awesome. To me, if you're excited about a 4oz. pour and don't care about finding Moylan's Hopsickle on draft, your're not doing this right.
  13. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    I plan to search for rare beers one at a time. I actually am hoping to hit the jackpot and do very little trading. I am seeking out physical locations to scavenge! I've never had a whale by the standards of this site. Personally, im not even interested in seeking out every whale. Unless i love the style anyways THAT much, it seems pointless to me. But i feel there will always be the basics; more reasonably priced beer that I love. Good beer is good beer, it doesn't matter how much i paid for it, rather how much I enjoy it!
    creepinjeeper likes this.
  14. timc100

    timc100 Disciple (378) Aug 13, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    And it's an incredible treat and a lot of fun when 'whales' from your region are released and are relatively easily accessible. It's the attitude of wanting to try the top 50 beers (as determined by a flawed system) and they loose the enjoyment and care-freeness that it is.
    Brunite and RobertColianni like this.
  15. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (355) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I imagine it can be a very fine line between not hunting whales and becoming a ticker. I love trying new beers but not for the sake of adding to my hads or getting to another Untappd badge. I left my local bottle shop afew minutes ago, the owner cracked open a bottle that I had no idea about (Evil Twin Ashtray Heart) and I left with a few bottles based primarily on his recommendation
    A few months ago, I would spend time trying to find the rarest (or most expensive) bottle that I could find. I now know what I prefer...
    jhartley and RobertColianni like this.
  16. yamar68

    yamar68 Initiate (0) Apr 1, 2011 Minnesota

    I can tell you're from Europe because you're not too lazy to spell out "et cetera."
  17. dbfp210

    dbfp210 Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I turned 21 in October of 2011. I started out trying to find all the wales because I thought my friends would be jealous. That got expensive. Now I'm focusing on locals and trying to find everyday beers. I'll go out of my way for some special beers (Parabola, BCBS, and a couple others) but I'm cool for now buying local beers that fit my budget.
  18. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (355) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    There's also no better feeling than finding a beer no-one knows about that you love.
    Mgm54, ESeab, BrownAleMale and 3 others like this.
  19. TheRealDBCooper

    TheRealDBCooper Aspirant (209) Mar 17, 2010 Svalbard & Jan Mayen Islands
    Beer Trader


    I would also say that anyone who can't enjoy a well made pilsner needs to take a step back as well. And don't get me wrong, I'm a fan for the most enamel peeling sour and your most over the top well made stout. (Black Water Series, Black Tuesday, Black Damnation series, etc.) But if you can't appreciate something on the lighter side, like someone who automatically adds salt to their food, you need to retrain your palate.
    8eer, Sarlacc83, trbergman and 7 others like this.
  20. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (272) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    i like your attitude. As an old guy and longtime beer drinker my high ABV, overhopped beer love phase was thankfully short and sweet. I loved my trip to Belgium, drinking all the high end Belgians I could find, but since then I've gone back to my comfortable stouts, porters, and of course my all time favorite pale ale Mirror Pond.
  21. brewbetter

    brewbetter Initiate (0) Jun 2, 2012 Nauru

    I have too much non-whale beer. I'm not going fast enough. All of you guys have slayed all the whales out there and now the oceans are left dry for us n00bs. :slight_smile:
    creepinjeeper likes this.
  22. Svendozen

    Svendozen Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2012 New Hampshire

    My wife bought me a subscription to a monthly beer club. And to be honest I was thinking "I wonder what kind of crap these guys will send me". But after thinking about it, I'm going to use it as an opportunity to try something I would have normally overlooked. Who knows...maybe I'll get something from some struggling brewer who's destined to be the next big thing. I remember being at a small brew fest in Claremont New Hampshire and went to a Smuttynose booth and raised to my lips a small cup of Old Brown Dog Ale...and it was like a revelation heheh. Thats some exceptional stuff! And their Finest Kind Ipa? Wow.
    djsmith1174 and Zach136 like this.
  23. danedelman

    danedelman Initiate (0) Apr 3, 2011 Pennsylvania

    The best come from the ones least expected!! The worst come from the ones most anticipated.

    My fortune cookie tonight could not be more correct
    creepinjeeper likes this.
  24. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (355) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I changed my mind from an overpriced Belgian to a beer from Del Ducato and Black Butte Porter.
  25. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,263) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    I am a relative noob when it comes to taking beer seriously, but have been drinking craft for quite some time. To me, everything is a new experience as far as paying attention to what I am tasting rather than just drinking beer. I read some of the weird ass threads and I am amazed at a lot of the content. There is just so much out there to experience for me that I can't imagine being focused on finding a relative few beers. It is very difficult not getting caught up in the hype and run out to find some brew I just read about...trying to stick to my slow steady approach. I see prices being paid, the gray market, eBay, stores jacking up prices and I am amazed, but not totally surprised. The guy that bought the case of whatever and is afraid to drink it? Yes...I've asked about aging a few things, but not because I don't want to drink it. I can understand the appeal of enjoying something ultra rare and I do hope to experience that myself some day, but i am not driven to look for the rare.

    Dogfish was the first brewer I really explored. Then Victory and Boulevard. Founders has been a revelation for me. Jacks Abby right up the road knocks my socks off. I was shocked that I actually enjoyed Ruination. I still enjoy Spotted Cow when i am in Wisconsin and yes I like Blue Moon, but my first Brown Shugga today was great stuff. I think if I was focused on one style or seeking out certain beers, I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much. I am willing to try anything, but not spend my time seeking specifics. Will I miss out on things? Sure, but there is plenty to choose from.

    Started doing reviews and back filled a bunch from my notebook in the past six months. It isn't a race to me. I drink the beer rather than just taste it, I write stuff down, and do the best I can. I don't like everything, but I try and be fair and respect the product. Run across something I don't understand, I will ask about it. Part of the fun for me is hitting the bottle shop with zero plan and just buying on impulse.

    I work in research and development in the food industry, so I understand pushing boundaries, but I think that goes too far sometimes. How many threads have there been lately about "is my palate ruined"? I love hot sauces...love them...but if I can't use a hot sauce to elevate the food flavor other than blow your head off hot, I am not interested. How much hops is too much? Does everything really need to be barrel aged?

    So yes...I think it can get crazy, no doubt.
  26. jhartley

    jhartley Poo-Bah (2,426) Aug 22, 2010 Florida
    Beer Trader

    I don't try new beers for the badge on Untappd or worrying about "ticking" either.
    Don't we want to try as many different styles and variations of those styles from as many different brewers as possible and discussing them with other BA's? That is what it's about, isn't it?
  27. jhartley

    jhartley Poo-Bah (2,426) Aug 22, 2010 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Amen, brother!
    creepinjeeper likes this.
  28. ColinStClaire

    ColinStClaire Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2012 Washington

    Yes, I do. There have been times when I have spent way too much money just to have some special or rare beers. While most of them were delicious, having expectations about them weakened the experience for me. Ultimately, drinking beer for me is about the pleasure of the taste and feeling, and mostly about sitting down with some friends and having a well crafted brew. Good beer is ridiculously easy to find for me, so why bother spend so much time, money and energy on some super hyped beer when something local and delicious is half the price and readily available? Not that I won't ever buy whales, but it doesn't need to be a focus.
    HoptimusMax1mus and fujindemon74 like this.
  29. jhartley

    jhartley Poo-Bah (2,426) Aug 22, 2010 Florida
    Beer Trader

    This whole thread has me thinking that 2013 should be the year of buying blind...?
  30. wesbray

    wesbray Disciple (355) Feb 29, 2012 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Or letting the missus pick...

    ...maybe not.
    fatboy91, MikeWard and creepinjeeper like this.
  31. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    I just like beer treking. Big or small. Rare or common.
    Sarlacc83, JxExM and wesbray like this.
  32. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,263) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    She who must be obeyed picks her own beers! I have given up trying to figure out what she likes. She likes wittes, but SN Ovila Quad she loved. Not too hoppy, not too high in ABV, a little sweet usually, but then she liked Vampire Slayer and drank half my Hoponius Union...go figure. Totally random.
    creepinjeeper likes this.
  33. Svendozen

    Svendozen Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2012 New Hampshire

    One of my favorite beer memories is of a friend and me driving 40 miles in the snow on our first venture into craft beers. We bought some really random brews that upon the return to my house we found to be totally foul. I mean some were just terrible! But my wife came home to find us in an inebriated state, laughing at our own inexperience. But...it was the best time I had in a while. That's all this is about, isn't? For me sharing the experience is probably 50% the of fun. Good beer or bad, whales or not.
  34. Brunite

    Brunite Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2009 Illinois

    Nice post by the OP.

    IMHO....whale chasing is for 20-somethings, noobs, and hipsters. I decided pretty early on in my craft career to not waste too much time or money chasing down beers that would have a 50% chance to disappoint, 100% chance of being overpriced, 95% chance of never having again, and 90% chance of finding something just as/almost as good readily available on the shelf for anytime purchase. My philosophy: Find 1-2 great beers in each of 20-30 styles that you enjoy, are easily obtainable, and are reasonably priced. Add in a few favorite seasonals that I grab IF/WHEN they are seen on the shelf. If I catch some BCBS for 16.00/4 or some Cantillon sitting around....I'll grab it. Otherwise....I stick with my rotation stuff. Makes my beer life easy and stress free....which should be the point after all!
    davelag, teal, LeRose and 5 others like this.
  35. Svendozen

    Svendozen Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2012 New Hampshire

    I know a little off subject, but about that beer fest. At the gate you paid your money and they gave you tickets to redeem inside for a beer. My buddy and I are walking around trying to decide which booth we were going to try first...we get in line, I take my tickets out and my buddy says "where did you get the raffle tickets?". He was totally oblivious to the fact that you had to buy the beer with tickets. So not thinking they would ever believe him that he "didn't get any tickets" I gave him half of mine. We found that half the venders weren't even taking them. At the Smuttynose booth the girl was drinking one glass for every three she was pouring! We had a good time. I enjoy sharing with my friends. And in another 20 years we'll still be laughing about it, and I'll still tease him about the raffle tickets. Hell with the whales. They might have drank and enjoyed them, but did they experience them?
  36. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Totally agree. I almost never drink lagers at all and just the other day picked up a single Scrimshaw Pilsner and it almost single-handedly reversed my entire mindset on buying ever-increasingly big beers. Not that it was so "spectacular", just that it reminded me that quality beer-craftsmanship is quality beer-craftsmanship, no matter the style.
  37. Rutager

    Rutager Poo-Bah (2,188) Oct 18, 2010 British Columbia (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Do what makes you happy and try not to worry about what others do. There's no right way to enjoy beer. You don't enjoy beer better than anyone, no matter how smart or enlightend you may think you are.
    (Not directed at the OP)
  38. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,433) Mar 18, 2010 California

    The majority of the beer I drink is "basic" shelf beer. It gives me a good opportunity to sample a lot of good and bad beer and understand my likes and dislikes.
  39. SStein

    SStein Zealot (509) Dec 26, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I never got into whale hunting. If I can find a hard to find beer, I will pick it up but I am not into hunting them out. I have always been about trying new beers: some will be good, some will be bad, some in-between. I would rather drink a bad beer with a buddy, then have a whale to myself. Drinking beer is a social act. Sometimes it may be just sharing a beer I found with my wife or a buddy, other times it is sharing a random discussion at a bar. Beer should be an experience not just a tick mark.
    RobertColianni likes this.
  40. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    I only buy off the shelf beers and buy whatever is at the store at the time i happen to be there... oh wait,
    my store just posted they got a case of Stone Enjoy by in, gotta run...
    Rutager likes this.
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