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Confessions of a Beer Hoarder

Hi, my name is Jim and I have a beer problem.

It started out innocently enough.  On a whim, I purchased a Chimay Premiere (mostly because of the silly cork) and my mind was blown.  As a Bass drinker, I had no idea that beer could be so dizzyingly delicious.

Suddenly, I realized there were other beers with funny labels in big bottles out there.  So I started trying those, too.  I’d buy a bottle or two, drink them with my wife and then go back to try a couple of others.  At the time, my fridge was filled with meats and vegetables, and my garage was filled with lawn tools and children’s toys.  But that would soon change.   

I went from my local beer store to one down the road that had a better selection of craft beers. They even sold them as singles.  Now I’d buy several bottles, large and small, and bring them home to sample.  I’d keep them on the door of the garage fridge, the one we used for soda and other things too large to fit in the kitchen refrigerator.

The Beer Aisle in my favorite beer store, courtesy of Beertography, who's taking "beer porn" to an all new level! (Click the pic to visit his site)

Then I found a place by the highway that had an enormous selection of bombers, so big I was intimidated by it.  I was paralyzed by my choices and actually found it hard to concentrate.  So I’d buy stuff I knew I liked, along with a few other things that I hadn’t tried before.  My purchase size had doubled.  Soon the door of the garage fridge was full, and the bottles were creeping onto the shelves.

Then I started hanging with a new crowd.  Beer nerds.  The worst offender was Kevin, the beer guy at the mega-store by the highway.  He’d get in my ear as I shopped, recommending many new beers to me.  He was so enthusiastic, it was impossible to resist.  I soon learned that you got a 10% discount when buying 12 or more bombers, which had me shopping by the dozen every time I walked through the door.  Now the “garage fridge” was the ” beer fridge” and the middle shelf sagged under the weight of the bottles.

But what really did me in was when I discovered seasonality and limited releases. I’d get a beer and love it, go back for more only to find it was gone.  What do you mean Theobroma only comes out once a year?  Or I’d get laughed at when I’d ask if the beer store happened to have any Founders Nemesis – I heard it was good.  What do you mean I have to be “on the list?”

That’s when I found out you had to strike while the iron was hot and keep an eye on the horizon if you wanted the good stuff.  So I’d buy whatever was limited right away (I’d get two or more if I thought it’d be something I’d like).  If there was a seasonal I loved, I’d buy a case so I’d have them long after the shelves were bare.  I’d keep an eye on the Internet and look for what was about to be released and get on “the list.”

It has gotten to the point where my beer guy Kevin drops what he’s doing when I’m in the store so he can “help” me shop.  He has referred to me as a “whale” and “his best customer.”  I get random discounts from time-to-time, and he even gave me a gift for my birthday.  I don’t gamble, but I’m pretty sure this is what it’s like to be a high roller at a casino.  But at least I have excellent beer to show for my money.

If I keep it up, I'll wind up on A&E's "Hoarders" like this guy. (click the pic to see the "after" pic from A&E)

I have gone from having one or two beers in the kitchen fridge to having a full beer fridge and multiple boxes of beer in the garage. I’d say I now have over 40 different beers on hand, so many that I have forgotten what’s there.

The upside is I can now go beer shopping in my garage.  The other day I was thirsty for a hoppy imperial and dug out an Avery Maharaja I didn’t know I had.  A nice surprise, but a little scary, too.

So there you have it.  I don’t have a drinking problem, but I do have a beer buying problem.  I tell myself that most beers keep well, especially the big boozy ones I prefer.  And that if there’s some sort of zombie apocalypse, I have enough beer to last until they pull the boards off the windows.  I know it’ll all go eventually, and beer is my #1 hobby, so it’s not all that bad, right?  But then again, you can rationalize anything.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to reach out to Kevin to make sure he hold a couple of cases of Troegs Mad Elf for me.  I love that stuff!

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Tags: , ,

Categories: Beer, Lifestyle

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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46 Comments on “Confessions of a Beer Hoarder”

  1. November 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Wow, somebody has been reading my mind!

    Last night when I got home from work I started doing a complete physical inventory of all my beer. I didn’t quite finish because I ran out of the sheets that I printed off.

    I won’t throw out any numbers but let’s just say you don’t have to worry if you have “only 40” different beers on hand.

    I can completely relate to almost every stage of beer buying that you listed above.
    My problem is that when I get into a new hobby there’s no crawling or walking stages for me. I hit the ground running, then move to flying and eventually to a rocket blast. I realized that the journey of identifying beers that I wanted to try and tracking them down was half the fun for me, especially since it led to hours of conversation with beer store owners & fellow beer geeks.

    Eventually I got to the point of taking a deep breath and saying “I don’t need to try every release from every brewery that comes out” and eventually it sank in. The first notable beer that I remembered not going into “track it down” mode on was Bell’s Oracle. I’m sure I “missed out” but I somehow survived!

    That being said, having an impressive stockpile of beer is not the worst problem in the world especially when you realize that the solution is to just drink beer.

    Cheers!

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

      I’ve actually started to tone it down myself, realizing that most of the rare ones will be back. Plus I’ve had lots of beers, so the opportunities to try something new and appealing are fewer.

      Who am I kidding – I still buy ’em by the dozen!

  2. November 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    Poor Jim! My situation isn’t quite that bad as I’ve cut back quite a bit on my beer purchases lately, but…I can definitely see this happening. I’m making a point of finishing off the current stock before I buy anything else. Unless of course its for my birthday, or a limited seasonal, or…

    A whale, huh?

    • Don
      November 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

      He’s the biggest! He’s like the Moby Dick of Beer.

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

      Yes a whale. It’s a gambling term I think. Or all of that beer has gone to my belly.

  3. Don
    November 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Jim I noticed you didn’t actually have a picture of your garage. I’m guessing you have surpassed hoarder level. And 50 beers?….Please! There’s 100 if there is 1. You do have a problem. Funny thing Is I think the blood lines here play a factor. My beer bunker is brimming right now too. I have taken over the top shelf of the pantry with Whiskey, and The beer is now making its way onto the shelves of the garage fridge permanently. When i take one out I replace it so as not to loose its place in there. It’s a definite problem, but a good one to have I guess. I also find I’m aging beer too, but not on purpose, just because I forget I have them.

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

      That’s how I age them, too – I have a 2009 Founders Nemesis? Who knew?!

  4. November 11, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    I was like you Jim, until about 2 months ago when I realized I was broke! I had over 400 bottles of beer in my basement. I was, still am, better stocked then most liquor stores. Like you, Kevin was awesome to me at the Liquor Outlet in Booton NJ (plug for ya Kevin), He would let me know of cool stuff coming in, I’d drop 2 bills and head out a happy camper. I’ll probably get that way again when the money situation changes. But, it has been really nice over the last couple of months drinking all the awesome beer I’ve had tucked away in boxes.

    I’m glad someone took over my spot as “whale” at the liquor outlet 🙂

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

      Ha ha – yes, I am the new Beluga of Boonton!

      I don’t think I could get to the 400 level Peter. I know you trade and are hardwired into the east coast (and perhaps national by now) beer scene, which I sure creates more opportunities that make it hard to say “no.”

      Enjoy your bunker – that’s what it’s there for, right?

  5. November 11, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    That is hilarious. On one hand, I can relate quite a bit. On the other hand, once you got into the down and dirty of what the hoarding amounted to, I felt better because I’ve got it in check more than that (i.e. I’ve got the fridge part down pat, but not the garage).

    And then I became jealous.

    My friend in Wisconsin uses his basement as his “beer cellar”.

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

      Just wait, John. It creeps up on you, just like it does with real hoarders.

      “Oh, I don’t have anywhere to put this box of beers in the fridge. Well I just set them down over here…” Fast forward a year and you’re at 40. Fast forward two years and you’ll have nowhere to park the car.

      BTW, still digging your site.

      • November 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

        Thanks! And that’s a two-way street. This is becoming a daily visit for me. It really is re-kindling my love affair with beer.

        I’ve reached a point where people re-pay me for favors by buying unique beers. It’s a great gift to get. My brother even buys me good stuff AND a stretch beer to pair with it. But if I do lots of favors, sure enough there’ll be a corner of my kitchen dedicated strictly to overflow. Fortunately, overflow has never been more than a case worth (four different six packs). It’s kind of like when your DVR starts to fill up. You realize it’s time to dedicate some effort to cleaning it off. Once six packs are on my kitchen floor, it’s time to clean out the fridge.

        • November 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

          It’s probably good to constrain the space the beer can occupy in your house. I just stack the boxes up and up and up…

  6. November 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Oh yeah, I failed to mention that I have inventory at other people’s houses too…

    My parents, my wife’s parents & my best friend all have a bigger stash for me than most people have for themselves.

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

      Wow – you win!! Beer caches scattered about the country! And I thought I was ready for the zombie apocalypse!!

      • November 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

        Scattered about North America actually, my wife’s parents are in Canada 😉

        • November 12, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

          Nice!

          Action Hero Leader-Type Guy: “We’ve got to get to Canada to escape the Zombies.”

          Mikey: “Hey, you don’t drink a lot of beer do you?”

          Action Hero Leader-Type Guy: “Never touch the stuff.”

          Mikey: “Perfect! I know just the place – follow me to freedom!!”

  7. Bill Bennett
    November 11, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    It is pretty interesting when you have 4 cases of varied beer in your fridge and you start to worry that your running low… or that the variety is not quite diverse enough… and then you go out and buy another couple of bombers and six packs just to have as regular drinkers so as not to touch the reserves.

    • Bill Bennett
      November 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

      And a related but different thought…. How hard is it to pass by a beer store without stopping in? Just to see if…

      • November 11, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

        I just keep her in fifth…

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

      That’s how it works, Bill. I always go to the beer store on a mission to get stuff I’m in the mood for even though I know I have other stuff at home. While I’m there I pick up the “everyday” beers along with some special stuff. At least half of that special stuff goes untouched and eventually gets absorbed into the “collection.”

  8. Mark
    November 11, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    I can totally relate – I’m up in Westchester county where we don’t have the same type of shopping opportunities you have in Jersey. My current mission is finding the new Pappy Van Winkle release (get the 15yr bourbon or 13 yr rye if you see it.

    Just found the blog and enjoy it a lot.

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks for reading and commenting Mark!

      Have you been to Cable Beverage in Rockland County? It’s a crazy place, but they have a great beer selection. Definitely worth a trip across the Tap, maybe if you go to the Pallisades Center, which is pretty close to it. I did a post on it: https://beerandwhiskeybros.com/2010/06/28/crazy-beer-store/

      I’ll keep an eye out for the PVW, but Don’s the whiskey guy and he’s out in Idaho.

      • Mark
        November 11, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

        Thanks for the tip Jim, I’ll check that out for sure. Sounds like a place I hit on my way into the city…Flair Distributors, just off the Deegan, about 2 miles north of Yankee Stadium. Bring cash cause they don’t take credit, but great selection and very cheap – Brooklyn Local 1&2 for $6.29!!

        • November 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

          Nice! Cable is a trip because it’s a rat’s nest, but it’s made of beer!! There’s lots to discover and it has a certain hoarder’s charm. They even fill growlers, so plan ahead.

    • Don
      November 11, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

      I’ve had the 13 year rye, and love it, I’ve had the Lot B 12 year Wheat bourbon, but haven’t sprung for the 15, 20, or 23 yet.

  9. Matt
    November 11, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    The progression of a beer enthusiast – sounds like a great poster, Jim! I picture one of those evolution of the caveman type illustrations where you start with a BMC, move to a single craft beer and eventually you surround yourself with all of the breweries and styles you can afford/manage.

    I’m still in the early stages where I go by the beer store “just to see what’s new” when I know damn well what’s new. I already spend $40-50 a batch to brew and then I go out and spend more on commercial stuff. I don’t have a fridge in the garage, which is the only thing holding me back from a real, “you need help,” problem.

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

      That is a GREAT idea, Matt!! It’s on the “to do” list for sure!! Evolution of the beer nerd!!

      My beer fridge was the kitchen fridge from our fist house, which accompanied us when we moved. It spent a cuple of years mostly empty until I had that Chimay. Now it’s a must have, especially because my wife enjoys good beer, too. I think we’d just drink it warm if we had to!

    • December 6, 2010 at 9:54 am #

      Hey Matt, I took your suggestion for making a poster to heart – here’s the Evolution of the Beer Geek!: https://beerandwhiskeybros.com/2010/12/06/evolution-of-the-beer-geek/#comment-9157

      Great idea!

  10. November 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    Hello Jim,

    Great Article!

    I also have a beer buying problem. (Sounds like there should be a meeting for someone like us.) 🙂

    Altough I have cut back recently, I have what termed as a “beer wall”. I guess that I have a couple of hundred beers (in boxes) in the beer wall.

    I also have tried to create an inventory list, but it’s too daunting and changes all of the time. At one point, I have thought about finding a barcode scanning and hooking it up to a database. Then I could scan a bottle in and a bottle out.

    I haven’t gone there yet, by maybe sometime soon.

    Sean
    2Beerguys.com

    • November 11, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

      I think if you start a barcode system, it’s time to join BHA (Beer Hoarder’s Anonymous). 🙂

    • Don
      November 11, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

      If you go the scanner route, just open a store! That way you will constantly be getting new and good inventory, and can make some $$ off the deal! Seriously, a scanner? Hoarders look at you and say…”well at least he’s organized.”

    • Don
      November 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

      Actually this could be an app on I phone. They already have scanner apps, why not one that loads it into a database on you phone? Should be easy enough to do.

  11. Don
    November 11, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    This is freakin’ crazy! I just told myself last night that I was getting too much of a stockpile in the bunker and that I needed to cool off purchases. So what am I about to do? Run out to Brewforia to get two limited releases over lunch before anyone else does! I’M DOWN WITH THE SICKNESS!! HELP!

    • November 11, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

      Just saw that comment on FB, Don, and I was going to give you shit about it! But hey, I’ll be stopping by after work to grab my limiteds, too!

      I stockpile in the garage in the winter, when it’s cold. As it warms up, and the threat beer going bad out there pops up, I start drinking my cache. That usually keeps me in check.

      • November 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

        So we should call you BearPoet, as you come out of hibernation and drink your stockpile as the weather warms?

    • Mark
      November 11, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

      I just bookmarked their site the other day, but I couldn’t find any info about shipping costs. They have some great pours you can’t in NY.

  12. paulette
    November 11, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    I can relate in a small way, all I can say is it’s a good thing we live in a tiny one bedroom apt. and have a beer budget. There is not any extra space to keep more than a shelf in the linen closet and a six pack or so in the fridge.
    Look out if we ever move and have extra space, I’m sure we will fill up in no time if we increase the beer budget.

    • November 11, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

      I’m in a house with a one car garage that’s too small for a car, but plenty big for too much beer.

      I’d be on a beer budget, but my wife is a beer nerd, too, so it’s our one indulgence.

  13. November 11, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    Ha! Yes. And if I could get more sleep during those cold months, that would be ideal.

  14. Mark S.
    November 11, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    My hoard is nowhere near a fraction of yours, but after this past weekend I’ve vowed to buy only what I can drink in the very near future. This past weekend I discovered that some of the beers I’ve been saving down in my relatively cool and dry basement had become skunked. The last of my Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale and Fireside Ale that I bought a month or two ago. Hardly treasures, but still disappointing. Now I’m very worried about the Schafly’s Reserve that I just acquired.

    So drink up!

    • November 12, 2010 at 11:14 am #

      Yikes! You now have me paranoid about spoilage, and therefore, let the binge begin!!!

      Kidding, but I should probably start working through my inventory, especially because my storage conditions are less than ideal.

      And you should drink that Schlafly’s Reserve right way. And then go get another one and do it again. And again. I have, and cannot recommend it highly enough!

  15. November 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    Jim,

    You just described the unknown disease that many brew and spirits enthusiasts have. For me, it started with bourbon. Back in the day, I would buy a single bottle of WT Kentucky Spirit on my birthday which would last me the whole year. Fast forward today and I have somewhere north of 450 bottles of bourbon and rye (not counting the much, much smaller collection of Scotch and Irish). Now I’ve been struck by the beer bug and have been on a buying frenzy. A friend recently introduced me to Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, I loved it and bought a case while it was available. Last night I attended a Founders Beer and food pairing at a local restaurant and was blown away by their Backwoods Bastard. I was lucky enough to find one local small store that had a single 4 pack on the shelf and through begging and pleading on the phone, they agreed to set it aside for me. I’m hopelessly lost in bourbon and and beer and pleased as punch at new found delights almost weekly. As an example of my stage 4 disease, I no longer buy bourbon off the shelf, I now travel to KY, taste through a couple dozen barrels over the course of two days and make my selection.

    • November 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

      You’ve got it bad.

      But what I really thought when I read your comment was “I want some Backwoods Bastard!! Enough to drink now and save for later.”

      I love that stuff.

  16. Fred Colby
    February 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    I really dont see this as a problem, really I dont

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  1. Guys Weekend: Houston, We Have a Problem! « Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - November 11, 2010

    […] By the way I’m bringing the Beer too…I have a similar problem as my brother. […]

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