Why do beer geeks not feel the same way when staring at a rare bottle? Dr. William Goldstein of the University of Chicago’s department of psychology believes it stems from a fear of “closing the account”—that is, when it’s gone, it’s gone. It seems the length in which we delay draining a bottle increasingly erodes our certainty of a special moment. So, maybe we’re headed for a Miles Raymond-esque breakdown after all? Or, maybe not—if we follow Spilman’s lead.
I started cellaring (yes, I have a real basement) to improve beers as they age then it became an issue that I simply was buying more than I could drink and now, I don’t really care how most of my beers improve, nor do I buy more than I can drink. The issue with some bottles is that I bought them with a special occasion in mind that will probably never come and ‘closing the account’ does raise a small level of anxiety. Very few guys who say, “everything in my basement is for opening” may say differently when you point at their KBS or Beatification vertical going back 5 years.
I buy Lambic to drink & cellar usually waiting until a bottle is 2 years old before I open it and even then, some specifically are for 10 years from now. I like Hill Farmstead saisons after 9 months so while I drink a lot of them, I keep 2-3 from each release until they’re older to open. Then, I just open them up.
So I can completely understand their analysis here.
One thing I do though is there are no non-Lambic bottles in my cellar older than maybe 18 months old. I have some Hill Farmstead from January of last year still and a 2012 Bourbon county so I guess that is pretty old but I do love me some aged BCS. My point is, most beer falls apart after 3 years, sometimes 5 but that’s pushing it.
Earlier this year, Arizona beer distributor Pitcher of Nectar experimented with the release of rare Cantillon lambics. To squelch the frenzy incited by past releases—when a few beer geeks gobbled up bottles as they hit shelves—owner Tony Piccini made a controversial call to limit the entire allotment to a few on-site tastings at beer bars. “I really wanted to reach more people than the hoarders,” reasons Piccini. “My intent was to approach local businesses and get people to actually visit these locations to try out this fantastic beer.”
This is happening in Vermont as well w/ our distributor. You don’t see shelf Cantillon anymore. Supply is lower, some stores might in fact just be drinking it themselves but shelf Cantillon was a thing in Vermont for a very long time. Now, you can only get it at quality beer bars / restaurants in out state because I believe the same principle is applied. Sell to bars who specialize in great beer and that promise not to overcharge for Lambic and then more people can enjoy the bottles instead of someone like me buying 2-3 cases and staring at the bottles for 2-3 years.
I think the hoarding of Lambic is a huge problem because lots of it does make it over here only be bought in bulk and stuck in basements or worse, hall-closets. I’m guilty of this but prefer old lambic to young stuff and when I see it on the shelf, I grab it.
I have nothing against distributors only selling to restaurants. I can drink Cantillon in Vermont at my top 5 favorite bars year-round and that’s pretty awesome.