Posted on April 27th, 2010
Trading beer through the mail can be a great way to try brews from far away that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to experience. There is a robust online community of beer traders that make it easy to try beers from all over the world. Here’s what you need to know to start trading beer.
1. Most shipping is done through private companies such as UPS and FedEx.
Shipping through the United States Postal service is generally discouraged due to certain restrictions when it comes to shipping alcohol. If you stick to private companies you shouldn’t have too many problems. UPS even offers custom boxes and Styrofoam molds for shipping wine bottles, which fit larger beer bottles nicely too. Because your dealing with contents under pressure, packing your goods up tight and secure is extremely important.
2. No money can change hand
Beer trading is just that- trading. Although sometimes you can find someone interested in trading beer for other goods, it’s usually a bottle of beer for a bottle of beer- no reselling. As we’ve mentioned before there is a separate black market for selling bottles of beer on sites like eBay, but that is illegal in most places and kept apart from beer trading. Most beer sold on eBay is marked as “collectible bottles” not alcohol, a loophole that’s dubious at best.
3. Include something extra
Frequently when trading with someone it’s customary to include an extra goodie, like a bumper sticker, extra bottle of beer or something similar. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a great way to make a good impression on your trading partner.
4. Limited releases and exotic ingredients are hot items
While beers with limited distributions, such as local microbrews, do reasonable well on the trading circuit, the items which are in the highest demand are ones with limited releases and exotic ingredients. Take for example Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire, which sold out at 5:25am the day it was released. You might have to make a few trades before you work your way up to the type of beers you’re really after.
5. Find a trustworthy community for beer trade
There are numerous online forums for discussing and trading beer. Our favorites for friendly, helpful advice and honest trades include the forums of BeerAdvocate and RateBeer as well as the beer trading group on Reddit.