Whales: Definition

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by mjshearer1, May 17, 2013.

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  1. mjshearer1

    mjshearer1 Aspirant (260) Dec 16, 2011 Michigan

    I don't remember who it was (and I'm too lazy to look :slight_smile:) but recently there was someone who posted a thread about a whale hunting bro being a douche at a bottle shop when he was looking for Parabola and KBS. The OP was subsequently mocked for calling those beers whales, and I didn't understand why. Is the term "whale" subjective to one's opinion, or their location and what does and does not distribute to their area?

    For me, I consider both of those beers whales. Highly sought after, limited release, and hard to get. Even living in the Grand Rapids area, I consider KBS to be a whale, because it flies off of the shelves here. Do most people only consider things like Westy 12 to be a whale because it's not distributed to the US save the one rare occasion, or are whales more like 50 year old guezes that were only brewed once in a dark alley of Belgium that you have to summon the spirits of dead monks to obtain?

    And speaking of shelves, I still don't know what constitutes a shelf turd. The term is just obscure to me. Is that a shitty beer that just sits on the shelves because no one wants it?

    I realize that I may be betraying a bit of newbism here, but I'd like to know if I look a jackass or not when I post a picture of my Rare and say "HAI GUISE LOOK AT MAI WAELZ LOL~!"
  2. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Zealot (565) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    They ARE both whales, and the term can be applied to any beer that is in limited supply or distro. It's a pretty broad term.
    hardy008, Hdredfern and Topher78 like this.
  3. Justinsosmart

    Justinsosmart Aspirant (249) May 14, 2013 California

    I would consider shelf turds to be All other beers that aren't whales.
    KS1297, mychalg9 and Gatch like this.
  4. LMT

    LMT Initiate (0) Oct 15, 2009 Virginia

    I can only respond to part of this. But a "shlef turd" seems to be any seasonal/limited release beer that hangs around on shelves well after its release. Like a Founder's Breakfast Stout would be right now...at least that's my understanding.

    And, I think it's a terrible term because many so-called "shelf turds" are great beers...like FBS, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, etc.

    I actually think the whole "shelf beer" concept is kind of funny. I ran into someone who mentioned he hadn't had many shelf beers (but was actively seeking some limited release). Huh? If you've never had something like Old Rasputin, how can you really appreciate the rarer Russian Imperial Stouts???
    JoEBoBpr, VTMoondog, Psykhe and 17 others like this.
  5. DStoked

    DStoked Initiate (173) Sep 28, 2011 Ohio

    It all depends on who you talk to. I consider those beers whales also, because where I'm from (Cleveland) you either have to know the shopowner or basically follow the delivery truck around to get them. Then, if you're lucky enough to lay eyes upon them, you're limited in what you're allowed to buy. If most shops don't get it, and the shops that do only get a case, then for me it's a whale.

    Also, I bet the people saying those aren't whales would say the same about Westy 12...

    But there definitely is another tier of "whales" that require some combination of a passport, reservation, lots of $, connections, and a job that lets you work (or not work) whenever you want.
  6. andrewinski1

    andrewinski1 Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 New Hampshire

    By the strictest definition, KBS and Westy 12 are not wales because with a modicum of effort and/or luck they can be got. Real wales may never ever be caught no matter how hard one tries.
  7. TheGoof

    TheGoof Initiate (0) Apr 10, 2013 Michigan

  8. DStoked

    DStoked Initiate (173) Sep 28, 2011 Ohio

  9. BrettHead

    BrettHead Zealot (504) Sep 18, 2010 Nebraska

    This is what people (newer members) have started to do more recently but it is NOT CORRECT. It isn't a broad term...

    It will not take much ammo/effort to land a KBS/Parabola/insert limited distro release you got shutout on this year, and as such they are not whales.

    Like that excel list shows, whales include things like "M" and HotD Dave.
  10. Dirtinabottle

    Dirtinabottle Initiate (0) Aug 21, 2012 New York

    One man's whale is another man's minnow.
  11. BrettHead

    BrettHead Zealot (504) Sep 18, 2010 Nebraska

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  12. Brenden

    Brenden Poo-Bah (3,885) Feb 25, 2008 Ohio
    Society Trader

    As I understand it, the term "whale" is for "white whale," a term spawned solely as a philosophy of sorts referring to Captain Ahab's obsession with Moby Dick. The idea is that he spends his entire life and all his resources hunting this one creature (regardless of motivation) and that it's his life's goal. His life may be destroyed, and he may have no real happiness, but it's all success if, in the end, he kills that stupid whale (to simplify). Really the derision comes from the absolute, unbridled obsessiveness of it. Real "whale hunters" may not even technically exist, though there are some who will focus on only a select few beers with no care for anything that isn't incredibly rare, highly rated, etc. In craft beer, there are people who don't care about exceptionally crafted beers in lighter styles, very well made mild beers, etc. Some only look for the highest-rated beers in the world and don't care at all what other incredible beers there are out there if they're not on a list. I work in a store selling beer and wine and we have one customer who looks for anything from FFF when he hears it's been released, but didn't give a damn that we had Jinx Proof on the shelf. He wasn't looking for any beer from a brewery that he likes, he was looking for the super-rare, huge stuff. There are all kinds.

    Sorry for the long post.
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  13. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Zealot (565) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    Yes it is. Its root in Moby Dick makes it so. If this board has been using the metaphor incorrectly for years, then I guess you're right.

    Whale = Personal Whale

    This means any difficult brew to obtain, and one that takes a great deal of time and effort to attain...is in fact a whale.
  14. Bonis

    Bonis Initiate (0) Jul 28, 2010 Ohio

    Whales are the beers your average craft drinker will almost never see without luck. Whales are caught by those obsessed with beer who have little life outside the world of beer (which I don't see as a problem, but I'm no whale hunter personally). Whales are only for drinkers with excessive time and money.

    Never really heard of a shelf turd, but if FBS is a "shelf turd" then I can't imagine what the label would be for some of the other bottles sitting on the shelves... "Aged shelf shit sicles" or maybe "Old bottles of toilet bowl stew".. C'mon, FBS is awesome even sitting on the shelf for a year (and please show me a place where FBS sits on a shelf that long).
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  15. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Defender (627) May 11, 2012 Missouri

    Agreed. Its all in the eye of the beholder
  16. BMitch

    BMitch Initiate (116) Jul 10, 2012 Virginia

    Agreed with this, although maybe it's a term that is slowly evolving into different "tiers" like another poster above mentioned. When I think of the beers on that list, my mind tends to classify them as "white whales".
  17. Duffman929

    Duffman929 Initiate (186) Nov 27, 2010 Illinois

    Walez....traveling to another country to go get a bottle that was originally 55 euro and is now 125 euro.....sound like something you have recently experienced?
  18. jbuddle

    jbuddle Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 New York

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  19. StoutSnob40

    StoutSnob40 Poo-Bah (2,640) Jan 4, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    It still is.. And nice fight against Soda Popinski.
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  20. TheGoof

    TheGoof Initiate (0) Apr 10, 2013 Michigan

    Everywhere in Michigan. I picked up a case a couple weeks ago for $35. I love living in Michigan.
  21. boney77

    boney77 Initiate (103) Nov 5, 2008 Canada

    Whale-definition: A term used by “professional” hobbyists that was initially intended to denote a particularly rare, difficult to obtain beer, but instead simply identifies those who indignantly attempt to qualify the definition as a douchebag.
    Said in jest :wink:
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  22. StoutSnob40

    StoutSnob40 Poo-Bah (2,640) Jan 4, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Coors Light NA is my whale.. It's.. it's my Everest.
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  23. DStoked

    DStoked Initiate (173) Sep 28, 2011 Ohio

    Ha! Yeah, I didn't even end up going to De Heeren. I landed a few bottles of 50N, some Westy 12s, and about a dozen other bottles of Cantillon, and I was perfectly fine with that.

    Also, we drank a 30-year Kriek Boon at Kulminator. Pricey, but a fun experience.
    Duffman929 likes this.
  24. Duffman929

    Duffman929 Initiate (186) Nov 27, 2010 Illinois

    Nice. We did Heerengueuze and then the 3 Westy bottles as a tasting. I made friends at the brewery and we went over after. They wanted 200 euro for Heerengueuze and 2 anniversary bottles. It was good, but not that good!
  25. Michigan

    Michigan Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2012 Michigan

    I will summon the commitee.


    But seriously, I think there are stages. There are whales, white whales, and ghost whales (I know I sound like a fucking idiot). The flavor-of-the-week does not fall into any of these categories. I would put most BA Dark Lords in the "Whale" category (I know that was a dangerous choice). Something that was a combination of high price, brewery-only, luck, and low bottle count would be a first-tier whale. A white whale takes several whales to land. Something that is a old (usually a specific range of vintages), small sales location, low bottle count, etc. Something like Zwanze, Cable Car Kriek, etc. Then there are ghost whales. This is the bottles only spoken of in hushed corners of the beer world. You can count the bottles on one hand, and usually know the people in possession of those bottles. These bottles lie in the hands of the top tier of the .01% of the beer community. In this category, there lies Selectie C, Soliel de Minuit, Spuyten Duyvil, Don Q, 1983 Dirty Horse.

    Call me an idiot, but that's how I see it.

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  26. Kinsman

    Kinsman Champion (853) Aug 26, 2009 California

    Believe it or not, there are places in this country that get both of those beers and they can sit on display for multiple days before being sold out. Just because you live in a big metro area and have to fight with thousands of other beer geeks to get your allotments, it does not make the beer a whale.

    Seems to me the trading community has had a pretty well understood definition of whales for a while now and it's only been within the last year or two that the definition has been expanded to include such relatively widely distributed beers as KBS and Parabola. I tend to favor the original definition of it being for truly rare and hard/nearly impossible to get beers with extremely limited bottle counts or draft only.
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  27. crushedvol

    crushedvol Initiate (0) Jan 29, 2008 Illinois

    Whale is in reference to Moby Dick, it was shortened from white whale, because internet people don't like to type out words. Even those who failed highschool english know the jist of the story. Captain so obsessed with capturing the whale he thinks of nothing else. This obsessive hunt eventually leads to his death. Would you go through that to drink a KBS? me either.
  28. Bonis

    Bonis Initiate (0) Jul 28, 2010 Ohio

    I still see it around here in Ohio every once in a while, but never at a discount. I'd eat up $35 cases of FBS all day. The supply must have well exceeded the demand of FBS this year.
    VTMoondog likes this.
  29. TheLostGringo

    TheLostGringo Aspirant (207) Dec 7, 2011 Connecticut

    To me those beers mentioned are not whales because they are easily obtainable by trade if you can't find any locally.

    To me a whale is something that is near impossible for me to trade for.
  30. SpeedwayJim

    SpeedwayJim Poo-Bah (2,995) Jun 19, 2009 New York

    First of all, its WALE... not WHALE... NO "H".

    This is what happens when guys like Levitation, Arbitrator, and Overlord decide to no longer post on BA... y'all noobs begin to run amok!
  31. palmdalethriller

    palmdalethriller Initiate (196) Dec 26, 2007 California

    I liked this post because you said "(I know I sound like a fucking idiot)." But continued on anyways. Well done, sir. Well done. For the record... I think I agree with you, maybe we're both idiots.
  32. palmdalethriller

    palmdalethriller Initiate (196) Dec 26, 2007 California

    They gon' love you for your ambition.
  33. palmdalethriller

    palmdalethriller Initiate (196) Dec 26, 2007 California

    cool photo. That's some legit beer porn there.
  34. SpeedwayJim

    SpeedwayJim Poo-Bah (2,995) Jun 19, 2009 New York

    Never ever in a million years thought I'd be fighting for the memory of Levitation.
  35. palmdalethriller

    palmdalethriller Initiate (196) Dec 26, 2007 California

    So don't. We are living in the digital age, my friend. Yesterday I was stressed out like a mug and just decided to rip on everybody I could for whatever imagined slight I felt they were guilty of. Today, I'm going to pretend like it never happened - and we will all be OK. Forget about him, move on, clear some friends off your facebook list while you're at it too.

    PS - how come nobody says "Never in in a million years thought I'd be fighting for the memory of Ding." (Kidding - I know why nobody says that)
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  36. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    There needs to be a term for limited release beers that sell out very quickly. I agree they are not in the same league as a true whale such as Don Q.

    I propose Narwhal for the instantly disappearing limited release beers. It's part unicorn and part whale.

  37. BdubleEdubleRUN

    BdubleEdubleRUN Initiate (0) Jul 28, 2009 California

    Beer whales have become such a burden. I now only hunt reuben whales. The good thing about reuben whales is rarity has no bearing whatsoever. Reuben whales are solely driven by taste thus creating the perfect whale. There is still hype involved but since scarcity isn't an issue your pallet can cut right through the hype and get down to business.
  38. jono0101

    jono0101 Aspirant (205) Aug 1, 2011 Missouri

    or the BEERholder, amiright???

    but seriously, i agree as well, anything that requires me stalking websites, waiting for the online reservation form to come up, or otherwise having to expend some real time. effort, or money to come across, i would consider a whale
  39. Danny1217

    Danny1217 Champion (826) Jul 15, 2011 Florida

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