Friday, March 1, 2013

The Session #73: Beer Audit

A fitting way to begin my regular (hopefully, really hopefully) contribution to The Session.

The beer cellar is a strange and beautiful beast and it's one that's particularly enjoyable, albeit impossible to tame.

I'm a good collector of beer. I've got good willpower to not drink something special that will benefit from some time to gather it's thoughts, though to be honest my cellar has a closing door so very often it's 'out of sight, out of mind'. And there I was, telling you how good my willpower was.

You saw through that, I know.

But in truth I definitely buy more beer than I drink, and this has resulted in a fairly substantial collection of ales that is just sitting there. Waiting. Glorifying themselves.

It's something that I've done deliberately. I thought the idea of squirrelling away some beers that were conducive to ageing would be something that I could do (given the aforementioned willpower that you didn't believe for a second...) and something that would be cool once I'd got something established.

I mean, who among you wouldn't want to be able to go to your stash at any given time and pull out a big barleywine or Belgian quad that has 3 years behind it?

I defy you to say you don't think that would be cool. Defy.

So for a little while I was buying beer with the express intention of targeting beers that would cellar well, and obviously this meant I was buying beer that I knew I wouldn't be drinking and given that a lot of them were a high ABV, I was handing over a lot of coin too.

I didn't mind this so much because I knew that my little project of padding out a cellar was getting some solid inclusions during this period.

It was an investment.*

Now here's where some of the questions arise.

What event is worthy of selecting a cellared beer to enjoy? How the hell can I enjoy a cellared beer in the summer months when everything is over 8% ABV and RIS and barleywines? Who will enjoy these beers with me, as most of them are large bottles? Why the hell do I do this?

Well these are all questions that have plagued me.

And then another phenomenon occurs. It occurs frequently actually.

It's Friday night and I decide I'll have a beer. It's been a tough week, I need something to quench my thirst. I need a pale ale, or an IPA, or a pilsner.

So I walk away from the 150+ beers that I have in my house and I go and buy more beer.

I walk away and I buy 'beer for drinking'.

The fact that I do this and use that term is a little bit mental. And I know that. I really do.

But I'm not going to stop. I like it.

There's also the issue of FOMO (fear of missing out).

If a new beer comes out I want it. If it seems like it will age well I want three. If it's limited release WHERE'S MY CREDIT CARD?

Even after all these negative elements go through my head rationally, I don't care.

It is awesome to be able to grab something that hasn't been available for two years, or grab that RIS that is three or four years old and is now tasting mind blowing.

A few times a year I'll go through them to see what I have, usually reshuffling because I've run out of room, but this is a pretty fun time to take stock of what I have. Sometimes I find beers that I forgot I picked up in the first place and this gives me some renewed enthusiasm for that beer, and I'm not ashamed to tell you that once I catalogued my cellar in an Excel spreadsheet.

It was quickly forgotten about because aside from it constantly having items come in a go out, it was utterly pointless and not useful at all.

If I could take back the thirty or so minutes it took me to compile that spreadsheet, I would.

Ultimately it's totally worth it for the very reason that I started it in the first place. I have a collection of amazing beers that are getting better, and at any given moment I can go and drink something that's really quite exceptional.

Vive la bier!

*This is obviously rich with irony. 


  1. Ahh, the fear of missing out. I can so identify with that.

  2. The rate at which new and rare beers are produced around here these days has helped quash my "fear of missing out" factor.

    There's just too much super special and expensive goodness to keep up with now, so I am must less phased by missing out because I don't ever want to be stressed by the impossible.

    Like when Our Dark Secret came out, I just couldn't justify the effort to get it over the value of the one off drinking experience. There needed to be something more to the experience on life's relative scale to drive me there.

    So yeah...once a big issue for me...I'm not more than happy to sit back and take it as it comes. I enjoy stuff more that way.

  3. Great first Session post! I can relate to so much of this - "How the hell can I enjoy a cellared beer in the summer months when everything is over 8% ABV and RIS and barleywines?" - but I haven't gone as far as a spreadsheet yet and I think you just convinced me not to bother!

    Thanks for contributing

  4. You raise a very good point - the difficulty of finding the balance between when/where/why to finally crack open a bottle or two. I was terrible about cellaring beers until I started homebrewing, which gave me so many bottles just laying around it was easier to ignore the good ones I was saving.

    Thanks for contributing to this month's Session!

  5. For most of the beer in my cellar, I want to save it for a "special day". Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a day special enough. That being said, I'm turning 40 in a month and that day will be special enough for a few of my cellared bottles. I also have fridge bottles that need to be drunk sooner. Although I know these are nice, I often feel that I need to drink these "albatrosses" before I can get to something with some age on it.