For the past 2 years, I’ve posted a year in review that contains Untappd, RateBeer and Cellar stats along with overall views of my spending both in beer and trading (shipping, packaging, etc). I’m going to include some stats in this post but this is more of an overview of 2014 in written form with some thoughts on 2015 both in the beer industry and how I’ll manage this blog. You probably noticed that I did post an overview to my RateBeer 2014 already.
It was my biggest year in beer ratings since joining RateBeer in January of 2012 as I completed 1,100 reviews in 2014 (2,900 total reviews) and traveled more than any other year in my life. Travel is the key to getting a lot of beer reviews. One day in 2014, I spent in Monterey and Santa Cruz California and nearly hit 100 beer reviews across 9 different brewpubs. That sort of marathon beer rating followed by weeks of downtime allowed me to keep my numbers high without having to constantly rate new beers.
In 2012, I spent $2,100 on beer shipping and in 2013, I spent $1,655. This year, I spent $1,120 and that includes Bruery & Crooked Stave beer clubs. It does not include beers I bought from Belgium which there were 3 total shipments this year amounting to $549, $585 and $180 respectively. So my beer shipping went up overall but my trade shipping accounted for only $250 USD versus $2100 USD in 2012. Trading has gone down significantly and overall shipping due to purchases has ballooned mostly propped up by the amount of bottles I bought overseas and from California (Bruery).
In 2014, the beer I drank the most of was Hill Farmstead Arthur (40) followed by Heady Topper (29) and Hill Farmstead Anna (20). In total, “Drink Local” became even more important to me with Hill Farmstead being 322 of the total beers of the 1696 total beers I drank (based on Untappd data). I don’t check in to every beer on Untappd but I’d say it’s around 80% of the total beers I drink are shared with Untappd. I’ve included Untappd stats below. As you can see below, Vermont beer still dominates my 12 month check-ins and this year was the year of sours, saisons and a few IPAs. My consumption of Imperial stouts as a ‘daily drinker’ dropped but BCS Coffee still made it into the top 5 because I just love that beer. If the plans for Hill Farmstead to allow public sales of Edward kegs in 2015, Edward will be guaranteed to be my top beer next year. I love Edward and kegs were impossible to get from Hill in 2014. That should be changing.
For reference, here are my most consumed beers from 2012-2014.
Since over 75% of the photos I upload to Flickr are beer, I thought I’d share that my photos on Flickr were viewed over 650,000 times this year with my total Flickr views since 2005 now being 3.65 Million! That’s a lot of photo views. Google Images was the top referrer to my photos with most of the pictures viewed being Hill Farmstead and Lambic bottles.
While we’re on web-stats, how did my blog do this year?
My beer blog still does about 20% less page views a month than my regular blog which is fine. The beer blog is not that important to me from an archival perspective. I actually doubt 20 years from now that I’ll care that I drank a butt-load of Arthur in 2014.
My top referrer was no surprise Google.com followed by the top beer forums, BeerAdvocate, TalklBeer and RateBeer followed by Twitter & Facebook. The most viewed posts of mine continue to be Beer Haul posts because shiny bottles are really appealing to people for some reason.
Summary of beer in 2014 and my constant evolution in this hobby:
In 2014, I bought more beer from less breweries with almost 90% of my spending being Lambic, Hill Farmstead, Crooked Stave, Bruery and local Vermont beers on draft or cans of Heady Topper. I’m very happy about this and don’t feel like I’ve missed out on much. I didn’t seek out Jester King, Side Project or Rare Barrel beers this year but did get to try a lot of the hyped releases at tastings. I’ll never know what Side Project Fuzzy tastes like and that’s okay because I have 2 cases of Fou Foune in the basement. An overly acetic peach sour that tastes like every other peach or apricot AWA isn’t a big deal anymore. I think I have an Apricot sour from Jester King downstairs that someone gave me and I’ll drink it and rate it here but don’t expect to like it very much. Most american wild ales taste like vinegar and give me bumps all over my tongue and throat.
I spent $5,500 @ Hill Farmstead this year based on my bank statements. That’s a lot of dough, but drinking 7-10 Hill Farmstead saisons a week with 2 growlers and opening one of their rarer beers once a month has treated me very well. I honestly don’t foresee spending less there in 2015. Very few of their beers are less than amazing for me, the drive up there is great and I’ve made enough friends in and around Greensboro that it’s never a bad time going up there. Finally, not dealing with trade forums, boxing up beer or driving all over New England for beer just makes my life simpler. I spent about $1,500 on Bruery and $600 on Crooked Stave this year. The rest of my spending went entirely to Lambic as I went to Europe twice this year and did a few trades as well as buy things in person. Any time I think Lambic is too much of a hassle, I open up an old bottle of Gueuze and that feeling completely fades away. I have zero regrets on my Belgian beer spending.
For cellaring, I reduced the amount of random bottles I was intentionally aging and now that I have a good idea how long to keep beers from the breweries listed above, I just drink things in order they should be consumed. There’s not much of a stress toward cellaring anymore. In 2014, I did start drinking more mead, ice cider and Bourbon and continued to drink my backlog of homebrewed beers. I didn’t home-brew at all in 2014 because I had 8 kegs worth of home-brew at the start of this year and have 4 left to drink so until those kegs are empty, I won’t be home brewing. It’s just not a good idea to make more beer when I have so much backlog to drink.
In my two locked 6 foot tall cabinets in the cellar, 3 of the shelves are loaded up with 50 or so Hill Farmstead beers per shelf. Another is devoted to bruery, another to Mead and Crooked Stave and another to Bourbon. The last shelf is Wine & Champagne. There is a small bit of the wine shelf that has some ales I’m aging (less than 30). In the Lambic closet and my off-site storage, I have just over 300 bottles with 75 of those being 37.5CL and the rest being 75CL to 1.5L bottles. I have more Lambic than I do non-Lambic and I think I want to continue buying Lambic aggressively until I reach 500 bottles and then I’ll slow down to buying only what I drink per year. I’d like to drink 1 bottle of Lambic once a week (52 a year) and basically drink from my stock that’s 5-10 years old and replace it with fresh bottles that sit for 5 years. Right now I drink 2 bottles a month but that number will go up as Lambic reaches that magical 500 number.
Saying 500 bottles of Lambic is my minimum seems crazy but having 50 bottles a year going back 10 years seems excellent. Drinking 10 year old Lambic once a week is heaven in my opinion so that’s what I’ll keep doing.
I spent a lot of time in California this year which kept my beer ratings higher but I won’t be in CA as much in 2015 so it’s hard to tell if my beer ratings will be high this year but we’ll see.
What’s in mind for 2015?
The main thing I want to do this year is go to Akkurat in Stockholm and complete my top 50 Lambic/Gueuze list of ratings and complete my 3 Fonteinen ratings as well as a few one-off bottles from Boon and Cantillon that I’ve yet to taste. I think Akkurat will happen in April. Also this year, a visit to Burgundy or Champagne in France and of course visit Belgium at least once to buy beer and drink with my friends there. I actually have more drinking buddies in California and Belgium than I do in New England which is a testament to how much travel I did since 2011 to other beer-centric parts of the world.
I’ll continue to buy Hill Farmstead and Lambic. Crooked Stave’s Cellar Reserve program ended so I won’t be getting new beers from them but I do have access to Bruery Hoarders next year through my friend Eric so I’ll be buying new releases (ticks) through him. That’s pretty much beer plans for 2014 buying. Oh, I also joined Schramm’s Mazer Club this year and since they’re making the best mead in the world, that will be an expense as well. I have a trustee there who grabs bottles for me.
Trading will continue to be minimal. I have a few setup with Sweden and Belgium already for early 2015 but no domestic trades happening. I’m not on Beer Advocate since 2012 and TalkBeer I stopped visiting in 2014. RateBeer I continue to visit because of the beer rating system and I do help out with admin duties there on the database. Because I’m not on beer forums much anymore, I don’t really know much about the hottest releases. I’m sure this will make my content boring to some of you but I write this for myself as an archival.
I’m going to move more of my Lambic off-site to a house that is perfect for cellaring beer. Very dry basement in a 150 year old house with a stone wall all around, zero light and 40-55 Degrees F year-round. Every 2012-2014 Lambic I own will go there because the conditions are simply perfect. They can keep the bottles for 10 years. It’ll be perfect.
As for this blog, I have some thoughts on how to open it up to a broader audience. The majority of even the most hardcore (mainstream) beer fans that know about Heady Topper don’t know of most of the beers I review here, they don’t spend anywhere near what I do and don’t travel for beer. There are millions of people in that group and only a few thousand in the group I write for currently. The hardcore beer nerds that know what Hill Farmstead Ann is is in the small range of around 10,000 people. If I want more traffic, I’ll have to open up to more mainstream beer writing which I find to be really boring and those same people will probably stop reading once I talk about Lambic or other subjects. So I’m trying to find more of a balance this year in the topics I cover. We’ll see if I succeed.
Sorry for this post being so text heavy but I was feeling lazy on the whole charts & graphs creation that I usually do for these EOY posts. Thanks to all of you who drop by sometimes to read what I have to say. I don’t know why you do it but it’s appreciated.
As we close out 2014, I hope you all have a great 2015 and all of your goals and aspirations in beer are met and exceeded. As always, I have an open door to anyone that wants to drop in and have a few beers. I hope to meet a few more readers this year. Thank you.