More misinformation on how I handle trading. Clarification on how I trade almost 100% of the time:
- Half of my trades aren’t trades. They’re muling for friends and strangers. All I ask for is $5 for gas and packing materials and I do this regularly for anyone that asks. If you ask and I say no, just ask again in a few months. Sometimes, I’m just “muled out”
- Almost all of my trades are $4$. If we do a 1st trade, I’ll ask that we keep things at that and under $30. That’s why I am not trading for King Henry. I won’t send $70 in beer for a bottle that cost $20 or less.
- I often underquote how much shipping costs me when muling. This is a problem I should resolve by using online shipping calculators.
- I only do non $4$ trades with regular trading partners that I trust and know. If you think an $8 Lawson’s IPA is worth the same as a $20 Crooked Stave beer, I’ll offer extras and try to balance it out. Uneven dollar value trades weigh on me and I try to trade with those people again to make it up to them. Some traders get random boxes from me because I like sharing beer.
- The majority of my trades to others are for shelf beers that I can get in my area. White Birch, Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s, Alchemist and other less-known breweries and off-the-shelf beers from my local Co-Op from Founder’s, Cantillon, Mikkeller.
- I have “mules” (I hate that term) near a lot of breweries. When you see my “haul” photos. I have So-Cal, Nor-Cal, Chicago, Indiana, NYC, Boston, Tampa, Atlanta, Austin, Portland and Phoenix covered. These are each 1 person per city who have 6 bottle shippers from me and when beers come out, I ask if they mind picking it up for me and, when the shipper is full, they send it to me. A lot of my hauls aren’t trades but these friends sending me my boxes on my dime.
Who I trade with:
- Regular trading partners. There are about 12 of you. I send each of you a box at an average of once every 2 months.
- Blog Readers / Facebook Friends. There are a lot of you. I LOVE the Locals 4 Locals trades from guys who aren’t on RateBeer or Beer Advocate that find my blog and email me randomly asking to do a trade. I generally send shelf IPAs and they do the same. It is a lot of fun and low stress aside from the fact anyone could scam me using this method. I sometimes ask them to ship first if they aren’t a user on a beer community site.
- People who message me on RateBeer asking me for Vermont beers. These are a small group but I still get them quite often but don’t do a lot of them or offer to mule for them instead.
What I don’t do: Things I’ve heard that I do that is simply not true.
- Respond to FT / ISO threads on RateBeer or BeerAdvocate. I’m not even a user on BA so that point is moot. I think I’ve responded to 4 threads all summer that are ISO and most are when I have a beer in the cellar I got in a trade that I don’t plan on drinking so I respond to these. I don’t think any of these have worked out. Also, sometimes I know someone who has the beer you’re looking for so I try to connect traders that could work something out.
- Ransom Vermont Beers. Lawson’s Farmhouse Rye is $30. Cantillon Saint Lamvinus is $30. That’s a $4$ trade that I got done last month. I don’t put a value on these beers beyond what I paid for them. If a beer is limit 1 per person, I simply don’t trade it because, usually, I want to try it myself. You won’t see me trading special release Hill Farmstead beers.
- Buy beer from Vermont for the sole purpose of trading it.
- Make good on trades. If a bottle breaks in a trade I sent you, I always make it right. I’ve heard I don’t complete trades or make good on trades. This has never happened.
There’s one case recently where bullet 2 is a different case. I’m doing a very large trade with a guy in Chicago. We have exchanged over 175 emails in the last month. He LOVES beers from HFS. He doesn’t really have a lot of interest in other non-HFS beers. So, I’ve promised him some beers and he has been very personable and transparent with things as have I. I am sending him 12 bottles of beer all “shelf” beers from Vermont and from my cellar over the next 2 months and he’s sending me beers such as Cigar City Leon, BCBS and Cascade Sours. Naturally, I put more value on his beers and some of these are not $4$. However, the start of this trade was me offering to send a lot of beer to him from my cellar in order to score his Black Raspberry Lambic from Southhampton as a Christmas / Birthday gift for my Girlfriend. It’s the only beer I’ve actually sought out this year because it means a lot to her and it would make her birthday great to give this to her as a gift.
The primary thing I keep hearing is that I visit Hill Farmstead a lot (almost every 2 weeks) and that I’m getting all of these growlers and trading for whales. Not true. As I stated earlier, I am muling a lot more now. Regular trading partners ping me about trading but I’m trying to save money so, most of the time, I have them give me a box of their HFS growlers and I wash them, go up to the Hill, fill them and give them back to my friends. That’s that is happening almost every time. I have them tell me what they want and get it for them. The “Go and pick it up for me bro” is pretty much all this is.
I’ve actually told brewers in Vermont that I do this. I don’t go to Alchemist and get 10 cases of Heady Topper and pretend it’s all for me. I get 2 cases a month and tell them “My buddy in California loves this stuff”. I’m transparent about it. When it comes to growlers, I’m picky. I only send people swing-top growlers and only smaller sizes (1L or 750ML). I usually ship the same day or next day the growlers and, if I don’t ship for 24 hours, I keep the growler in the fridge and out of sunlight. I’m very careful about growler shares. Friends say they’re good for months. I don’t believe that and, in personal experience, 1-3 day old growlers are never as good as hour old growlers.
So, the muling is something that I do for people who ask. It’s a lot of work and sometimes, I drive 4 hours for beer and get nothing for myself. I don’t make any money but don’t mind driving and have a backlog of audio books so it’s fine for me. Muling is a way of spreading beer love and most of my mule / trading partners have indicated many times that I’m the only person that doesn’t ransom Vermont beers. I don’t pretend like going up to a Farmer’s market in Montpelier and buying some beer and locally raised beef and fresh maple syrup with my girlfriend was some insanely hard experience that warrants “rare whales” in exchange for an $8 IPA. A lot of traders in Vermont have extensive cellars because they ransom their state’s beers. I don’t do that.
My cellar which isn’t that extensive compared to a lot of you guys is big because I do a LOT of trading. I do less now than before but I don’t get “rare whales” for my Vermont beers. I get standard beers and sometimes trade those up for better beers and I trade up quite often. I honestly only favor about 3 styles of beers, Stouts, Saisons and Wild ales. The others I’ll give away to friends, extras or only open when people come to my place for tastings.
The notion that I’m taking advantage of Vermont brewers to slay rare whales is simply not true. I haven’t posted any FT threads for Vermont beers. The only FT I ever did has been for a Toronado 25 bottle and didn’t want anything rare in return, just “quality wild / sour beers”. I realize now what a mistake that was because I received over 50 messages in 24 hours. I guess for rare beers for trade, you should actually be specific about what you’re looking for. That was news to me. I have never ISOed any beer other than black raspberry lambic so wasn’t aware of that.
I guess in short, beer lovers can crash at my house for free and I host someone here every 2 weeks and we open beers and I generally cook a lot and give them beers to take home. I mule a lot for people and $4$ trade with people I trust and locals 4 locals trades with strangers who email me through this site.
Overall, trading is a lot of fun. The misinformation is annoying because it makes me look like I’m taking advantage of brewers who I actually respect and get along with quite well and would help out any time they needed a favor. This post was written a bit defensively. I realize that now but I hope it clarifies my trading style and how I try to do things. Most people in this community aren’t as transparent. I do things a bit differently and hope this helps shed light on my personal style for trading.
Thanks for reading this blog. I’ve met a few of my readers lately and everyone has been awesome.