When I first got into beer I was introduced to a whole world of merchandise that I wasn’t ever aware of. Going to a beer fest and strolling up to a breweries table you are not only getting your glass filled with a beer but you may be lucky enough to have free game of a number of items of swag. Stickers are probably the most common item you will see but now coozies, bottle openers, buttons and coasters have become regulars at the brewery booth. That last one will be important later on. Of course I was taking a lot of these items. Many of them were cool and, most importantly, they were free. I didn’t need any of these little trinkets but I grabbed them anyway. Eventually I realized I didn’t use most of this stuff and gave it all away to friends or trash cans.
Beer trading is a thing. I tried it very briefly a long time ago and quickly realized it wasn’t my thing. I hated practically every aspect of trading beer except for the getting beer part. I hated having to find a trading partner. I hated making ISO/FT forum posts that would lead to awkward conversations with people. It was beer, not the stock market.
I hated having to pack up a box containing glass bottles that, themselves, contained liquid. You needed to pack that shit good because one wrong move from a delivery person, and there are a lot of those, and your package is kaput. It should be noted that sending beer between private citizens through any type of post is frowned upon. All the major shipping companies (UPS, Fedex, DHL) have policies against it and it’s actually illegal to ship alcohol through the USPS. So in order to partake in this hobby (really?) you have to be sneaky about this whole thing. If you go into a shipping company location to send out that box they are going to ask you what’s in the box, especially when they hear a sloshing sound coming from within. I just don’t have it in me anymore to tell a UPS store employee that it’s yeast samples or lava lamps in those boxes. Who the fuck is shipping lava lamps anyway? Is there a big market for them that I’m unaware of?
Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time and you are gifted a free beer. These should be cherished and always followed with a huge thank you to whoever has provided you with such an amazing act of kindness.
The keg of the beer you ordered kicked 3/4 of the way through pouring your pint and there is no back up keg. FREE BEER! One of your buddies decides to be a standup person and buy everyone a round. FREE BEER! You go to a BBQ at Todd’s house and you fucking hate Todd but he has a huge cooler full of cold ones. FREE BEER!
Free beer, no matter the beer, is almost always a good thing.
Free mixed culture saison? Good thing.
Free hazy IPA? Good thing.
Free homebrew brown ale from you friend’s neighbor? Good thing.
Free macro lager? Good thing.
Free diacetyl laden beer? Ehh, I’ll draw a line there.
But are you seeing a trend here? Free beer = good thing. So don’t be a fucking snob and be like “Oh it’s Bud Light, I don’t drink that crap.” It’s free! Shut up, thank the person and drink it!