Overview of my 2015 Goals:
- Go to Akkurat in Stockholm
- Complete my 3 Fonteinen ratings
- Visit Champagne and Burgundy
- Continue buying Hill Farmstead and Bruery beer along with Lambic
- Trade Less or trade at the same rate as last year
- Move more beer off-site for long term storage
- Make this blog more mainstream with less uber-beer-geek content
- An unspoken goal was to drink less and lose some weight
How did I do? Well, everything above worked out except the 3 items in bold. I still haven’t rated 3 Fonteinen Malvasia but a bottle will be opened in 3 weeks so I will rate that beer just a few weeks too late to meet my goal. Then, I’m only missing the draft 3F beers that were available once and never again like Schaerbeekse Kriekenlambiek. I feel like I traded less but my UPS bill seems to disagree with that. I did buy a lot of Bruery beers this year so maybe the Bruery boxes were just more frequent and thus increased my UPS spending. I also have an inflated UPS bill due to the buying and selling of some aftermarket car parts so perhaps trading was a flat-line but with my trading moving off RateBeer and onto Reddit and direct emails with past traders, it would take hours to determine the actual count of trades compared to previous years.
I fully failed at making this blog more mainstream. Most of it was laziness where it was the end of a week and I just decided to post photos along with some lazy notes on some of the beers I tasted. I did next to zero posts on travel, beer guides or opinion pieces. I could have done better at that but I don’t really force myself to write and since I’m not selling ads, there’s no requirement to publish anything at all. My lack of investment in this blog has led to a flat-line in visitors from 2014. That’s not a bad thing but it does show that there is a lot of room for improvement.
Read More Below…
Beer Reviews, 2015:
I started this year with a goal of not putting up huge numbers but I lucked out in January when I found a once a month tasting group with 4 other RateBeer members. There are now 6-7 of us that meet once every 4 weeks and that’s been our deal for an entire 12 months. What’s great about this is I can rate 10-20 beers a month (roughly one per day) and still get 40-50 new ticks in a single day with this group. Heck, I could take an entire month off drinking and still have 50 beers rated that month. It’s a really good thing because I’m not drinking much during the week anymore.
Here’s a summary according to RateBeer of my 2015:
…and here’s my RateBeer All-Time stats according to their script monkeys:
My average rating given stayed the same and I was 25 beers short of beating my 2014 ‘most in a year’ score of 1128 beers rated.
I created a chart that showcases my top 10 beer styles after one year in beer (2012-2013) and comparing these style counts to 2014 and 2015:
Initially, I was heavy on the Double IPA, Strong Ales and I had a lot of unblended Lambic in 2012 and 2013 and then Stouts, Saisons, Sours and Lambic Fruit came on strong in 2014 and 2015.
Below is a total all-time view of my top styles (by rating count, not by score) so this is a mix of styles that are both accessible and preferred. Just because there are thousands of Brown Ales doesn’t mean I’ll willingly buy a bottle:
Here are the raw counts of my favorite beer-styles by year:
My most-rated brewery is no-surprise Hill Farmstead. Mikkeller is easy because getting their beers is very simple and I’ve been to their Copenhagen beer festival as well as visiting their bars in San Francisco and Copenhagen (3x) over the past few years. Bruery is high due to my Hoarders Society Membership and De Struise is high due to the number of Belgian beer festivals I’ve attended for which the Struise – trailer is a permanent installation. No surprises on this list.
What was surprising was my top rated breweries by average score given:
I love De Dolle beers so this is cool to see I’ve rated them so high. Two ciders and 1 meadery are on this list. 3 Fonteinen is my favorite Lambic blender so I’m happy it scores far ahead of Cantillon. My love of Imperial Stouts shows through as Alesmith, Cycle, Jackie O’s and Fifty/Fifty make the list.
Below is my top states of all time for which I’ve rated beers from. California beats out Vermont because I’ve been to the state a dozen times since I joined RateBeer in 2012 and did nothing but rate beer. Pair that with Bruery Hoarders and California having more breweries than any other state and it’s no surprise they beat out Vermont.I never ever knowingly buy New Hampshire beer so no surprise my home state is so low. I leave my house and cross the border into Vermont every day. The state also just doesn’t have great beer. Before 2015 and the launch of Schilling Beer Company in Littleton, NH was lower than New York in total beers rated.
USA for obvious reasons is dominating my highest country rated with no surprises seeing Belgium, Denmark and then Canada. Having only rated 14 German beers is probably the only crime here.
Here’s a visual view to how I am doing in exploring the world:
I threw together a few additional data points for you:
Here is the total count of beers rated, 2012-2015 divided out by month. The value here is debatable but it is interesting to see in my biggest average month of August where I usually rate 125 beers at least, the stats are evenly distributed whereas my months are really hard to find a trend. From this data, I could determine I’ll have a pretty good indication of how many beers I’ll be rating in February, April, June, August and December but the rest of the months will be a toss-up.
Untappd unfortunately is not a reliable source and I have only myself to blame. I check into beers on Untappd at tastings and at home. If I’m going to a beer festival or brewery, I don’t use Untappd. Taking notes on 15 brew-pub red & brown ales and then checking into 15 red and brown ales and spamming the 400 people that follow me would just be a waste of everyone’s time. So Untappd has more raw-checkins than RateBeer reviews because if I drink Hill Farmstead Arthur 50 times, that’s only 1 RateBeer review so I use it to track how many times I’ve had my favorite beer but it does look like 2014 was by far my biggest year for drinking and 2015 is lower than 2014.
The only thing we can really gather from this is to quantify the actualization of my goals of drinking less in 2015 and even though I kept my RateBeer count up with monthly tastings, my total times I opened a beer is down significantly from 2014 to 2015. I was drinking less cellar-beers on a monthly basis. It does mean that my cellar has grown significantly this year to which I’ll have to simply buy less beer next year to match the amount of beers I’m now drinking.
Here is my Untappd “last 365 days” scores. My Unique Beers scores is MUCH higher than last year because of the beer tastings and less weekday drinking. Note, the unique beers are 345 short than my RateBeer total because I don’t check-in to Brewpub beers.
I average 4 beers a day at 71 unique venues, 11 of each were brand new.
Let’s dive in to those top-beers:
I’d say that I have been drinking pretty damn well. Lots of local but this screenshot is not surprising and it’s basically in line with my stats from last year.
Here are my raw Untappd Check-IN numbers for you data nerds
Before we move on to Trading, Blogging and 2016 Goals, let’s look at my top rated beers during 2015 in some of my favorite styles:
Top Rated Beers in 2015 (All Styles): Top Rated Imperial Stouts (2015): Top Rated Saisons (2015): Top Rated Sour/Wild Ales (2015): Top Rated IPA (India Pale Ale) (2015): Top Rated Lambic Style-Fruit (2015):
Beer Trading in 2015:
Here’s what I spent in UPS in 2015:
This doesn’t tell the full story. The total spent was $1,840 but I also dealt in the car-parts trading market for my new car and I bought Bourbon, Mead, Cider and Beer from various reserve society’s and clubs and stores throughout the year so think of this at 80% alcohol and 20% other hobbies and among the 80% beer ($1440), 50% of that was shipping things I bought, not traded.
Still, I won’t rationalize this as okay for a total in 2015. No matter what I shipped, the total shipping cost was way too high for me and greatly exceeded my goals of under $100 a month in spending which was only achieved 4 out of 12 months. A total failure in my eyes. Here are previous UPS shipping years:
- 2012 – $2,100 – $175 a month
- 2013 – $1,655 – $138 a month
- 2014 – 1,120 – $93 a month
- 2015 – $1,840 – $153 a month
Yes, shipping rates did go up but I clearly went over what I should have spent and without beer trading, this blog probably wouldn’t exist but I’d have $6,700 USD in my pocked today if I wasn’t trading beer. That’s real money…significant money. Down payment on a car money…2 maxed out MacBook Pros money or a Canon 5D Mark II w/ 3 L-Glass lenses.
My point is, beer-trading is the single biggest impact on my beer budget. Yeah, I can look at my top-rated breweries and notice that only 2 in the top 10 are local to me. The rest require I fly somewhere or trade to get them. So I either deal with this necessary expense in my drinking budget or I stop trading. I’m leaning toward the latter.
I don’t have exact trading counts due to the 5 different places that my beer trades take place these days. What I do know is that I continue to spend way too much on trading.
Beer Cellar (a rough update):
Looking at my spreadsheets, this year I moved 250 bottles off-site to a very nice and cool, dark rock cellar about 25 miles north. I have another 400 bottles that need to move there this year. My “rot box” has exceeded 600 bottles mostly because of the lower amount of beers consumed on average. I’m always drinking new things (new rates) because of our healthy tasting group but I’m not drinking the 150 bottles of Hill Saisons I have stored up or 50 bottles of Mead, 60 Bruery beers, 40 bottles of Bourbon or 400 bottles of Lambic. Luckily, everything I have has a 2 year remaining shelf life and most of the bottles are good for another 10 years.
The only ‘drink now’ beers are the 60 I have set aside to bring to this year’s tastings and the 80 Hill Farmstead Saisons I should consume over the next 18 months. Everything else has at least a 2 year shelf life for sure. The kegs and cases of 2015 BCS are good for 5 years, etc.
I think the priority is moving all of my Lambic off-site this year.
One of my goals last year was making my blog more main-stream. As indicated at the start of this post, I completely failed at that and it shows in the stats:
My visitors dropped and page views flat-lined.
My top-post and only real saving grace were 2 ‘mainstream’ blog posts so it’s telling that the only reason I flat-lined was a review of Bud Light Lemon-ade-Rita and how to French Press Bourbon County Stout.
Google was generous with referrers but my Twitter presence of auto-tweeting new blog post was very positive. When I started tweeting blog posts as they’re published, I did it to satisfy a few people who asked for it. Now that account has quite a few followers and drives a lot of traffic here.
The Beer Groups on Facebook continue to send traffic my way (thanks Nerds).
Flickr Pro removed their yearly stats but 3.5 million views on my photos is pretty exciting with 4.4 million total views on all of my Flickr pages but that’s since I joined Flickr.
2016 Goals in Beer:
Let’s get one thing fully clear. I have no issue with how I did 2015 except for what I spent in beer-trading. The styles I rated were my favorite styles and I “scrolled past” styles I didn’t like unless they showed up at tastings.
I had a great year and missed my mark on beating last year’s review total by 25 but I knew going into this year I’d rate less than last year, I didn’t know I’d just barely miss it but without the tasting group in Mass that I drive down for every month, there’s no doubt that I would have rated about 600 beers instead of 1100. If I had not done any beer trading, that figure would have been 400 and if I hadn’t gone to Belgium Twice and to Chicago for Rare-Day, the count would have been only 100 new ratings. Those figures are completely accurate by a few dozen margin of error.
Unfortunately, traveling, trading and spending gas money to go to beer tastings is becoming more difficult as I get more adult financial goals and budget for more expensive acquisitions like houses, cars, camera gear and a new desktop computer since my 2012 iMac is getting long in the tooth.
I’ll keep meeting up with our tasting group, I’ll continue my Bruery membership for one last year and I’ll probably respond to people emailing me with trade-offers if they’re asking for a beer I already have and one I have multiples of. I’ll continue buying shelf-bourbon and 3-4 barrel picks from Four Roses a year and I’ll continue drinking beer (on the weekends). I have another 50 pounds to lose this year and the holidays were not good to me where I went from 250 to 260 from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
I don’t have a lot of hard-fast goals here. Spend less, lose weight and continue drinking local as much as I can. Very similar to my beer goals in 2015. I love beer and I enjoy the locals that I drink with. I just gotta be an adult and ya know, this year I’ll turn 30.
Big deal, huh? 🙂
Thank you all for dropping by my blog this year. Yeah, I know this post is 2500 words and I’m sorry about that. Last year’s review blog post was very short and I assume everyone reading this except my mom skimped every other word. This yearly exercise is for me to look through all of the data I generate and determine changes I can make. If no one reads it, that’s okay with me.
Everyone I drank with, traded with, met, spoke to through email or on Forums. You all made this a great year. Thank you sincerely for your support and guidance. There are a lot of politics in the beer community but if you ignore those and just drink your damn beer, it’s not so bad. It can even be a lot of fun.
Happy New Year