The Beer Whisperer’s 2011 Year in Review

Today is the last day of 2011.  It was a great beer year for me, here are some of the highlights:

Legedary!

Legedary!

Untappd

I reached 500 beers on Untappd this year, achieving the “Legendary” badge.  An awesome accomplishment considering I am a father of 3 and don’t drink that much during the week.  Of course, Murphy’s Law kicked in, and only days after I achieved Legendary status on Untappd, they went and created two more badges; one for 1000 beers and one for 2500 beer.  Goals for 2012 and beyond, I guess…

GABF

I’ve been going to the Great American Beer Festival for about 15 years now.  When I moved to Colorado in 1997, I started attending the GABF and have attended almost every year since.  But this year was the first year I took full advantage of the GABF and the events surrounding it.  My brother and his friend came out, we went to the Rare Beer tasting, attended lots of events around Denver and stayed at a hotel in Denver. This has started a new annual tradition.  My brother and his friend will come out to Denver from Florida every year from now on, and my Dad and some other family friends are even coming out in 2012.  A new family tradition has begun.

Pliny the Younger

I finally tried Pliny the Younger (PtY)…a beer that some consider the best beer in the world.  PtY eluded me for many years, but this year I finally caught it and drank 3 glasses.  Admittedly, while I think it was a great beer, I think the experience and excitement of the release was greater than the beer itself.

Beer Cellaring

My cellar is growing.  At the beginning of 2011, I had maybe 5 beers in my cellar.  I now have 40, and have plans to grow it to 100 by the end of 2012.

New Blog

I started out with my own blog which had a major identity crisis.  I was asked to join Brewing Some Fun which allowed me to focus on beer blogging much more.  I also started writing for Drunk & Unemployed, a fun blog that allowed me to venture into writing outside of beer.  I finally settled on The Beer Whisperer, the blog you are now reading.  This blog is allowing me to focus my writing the way I want to do it.  I introduced the “Anti-Review”, which is a work in progress and allows me to tell the world what I think about beers in an unstructured way.  I don’t write often, usually once per month, but I like it this way.

Spreading the Word

I have introduced a number of people, about a dozen, to Dry Dock Brewing Co, and some of them now go there regularly.  I also have 2 friends that I am getting into craft beer pretty hardcore.  Soon, they will be like me…

Reserve Society

I joined Crooked Stave’s Cellar Reserve Society.  Even though this should be more of a 2012 accomplishment, I did join in 2011.  I am so, so, so looking forward to the releases from Crooked Stave…I can’t wait!

Everything Else

In general, I have grown as a beer connoisseur.  I  no longer consider myself “just a beer drinker”.  Taste and experience is now more important to me than “the buzz”.  I have become a beer hunter, tracking down exactly what I want.  I have become a beer traveler, seeking out new beer and new experiences in every city to which I travel.  I have become a beer trader.  A beer gifter.  A true beer lover.

Hey Beer Whisperer, how about some “best of” lists?

No.  Seriously, I cannot choose the best beers I had this year.  I had many, many great beers this year.  So many different styles and so many exciting beers, no single beer stands out.  Sure, I can name a dozen of the best tasting beers and beer experiences, but that’s not how I roll.  Like music, my mood, setting, the people I’m with, and so many other factors come into place when deciding what I like best.  But feel free to check out my Untappd feed from the past year and ask me what I thought of beer X.

I’m looking forward to 2012…but not sure it can top 2011.  It was a great beer year!

An Open Letter to Purveyors of Beer (aka, liquor stores) in Colorado

When I want to buy music, the first website I go to is Twist & Shout’s website.  The reason I go to there is they have a section on their website that highlights the best releases of the week, usually the non-pop, under the radar, indy stuff.

When I want to know which new restaurants opened around town, I check out Westword.  Not only do they talk about recently opened restaurants, they also talk about rumored restaurants.  They are the best resources for what’s coming and what’s current in food to Denver.

The best resource for upcoming beer releases in Colorado is…well, I wish I knew.

About two years ago, I used to follow an anonymous website at www.denverbeerblog.com, which now appears to be defunct (also see @denverbeerblog).  This website used to list all of the upcoming releases (in-state and out-of-state breweries) on a weekly basis.  Their last tweet was in February of 2010…a looooong time ago.

After that, I used to just watch Twitter and see what various people were saying had been released in so-and-so liquor store, then make the trek to said store in hopes that the beer was still there.  I found out the delivery dates for beer from my favorite liquor store, and would go there on those dates hoping to find some nuggets.  What a pain in the ass, especially when you show up someplace 30+ miles away expecting a beer to be there and it sold out.

A beacon of hope showed up in April of 2011 in the form of Colorado Beer News.  This is the blog for Lukas Liquor in Lone Tree (near Park Meadows Mall).  They are a great liquor store and a fantastic beer resource.  They listed a comprehensive list of beers they received that week  They also listed their “special” beer release times (usually Saturday’s at 2 PM).  I was happy.

But still, Lukas wasn’t always consistent; they don’t get the same beers as all the other stores, and not at the same time…often later than other stores.

So I continue to watch.  I watch Twitter.  I watch Facebook.  I subscribe to about a dozen liquor stores on Facebook.  I subscribe to newsletters of various liquor stores.

And I become fucking frustrated.

No one is consistent.  No one posts their entire list, or at least the highlights of their best releases.  Even my beloved Colorado Beer News took off a few weeks between GABF and the week after Thanksgiving.  I had to scramble to get Firestone Walker XV, The Bruery’s 4 Calling Birds, and others.  I [almost] missed out on some good shit!

My point?  Purveyors of beer in Colorado need to make a better effort.  Keep your newsletters coming with more complete information, update your websites, update your Facebook pages and post releases on your Twitter feeds.

Please stop making me come in to leave empty handed because you have nothing I want.  I’d rather know before I walk in the door.  Otherwise, I don’t want to come back.  Please stop making me post on your Facebook page asking what has been released, only to go unanswered.  Please don’t make me call to find out if you have beer X.  It’s a waste of your time and mine.

Of course, the other side of the coin is, everyone will have access to this information.  The newbies. The wannabees.  Etc.  But I’m willing to take that risk to avoid calling/posting/coming in at random times and find nothing.  Besides, only the truly die-hard usually pay attention to this type of information for any length of time, and we should be the ones to reap the benefits of the knowledge that these new releases are available.

Also on the other side of the coin; there are those of us that love the hunt, to find the rarity and to win the award of finding the beer that many others missed out on.  It is a great feeling and I do love that.

And so, I am providing an alternate solution.  Don’t listen to anything I said above.  Keep doing what you are doing. Don’t update us anymore than you already do on Fecebook, Twitter, newsletters, etc.  Instead, come together on a single website and provide to us, the consumers, with a comprehensive list of all the coming releases.  Create a website, or go to one of our already great local websites like Denver Off the Wagon, and provide this information to them.

By doing this, you keep us updated on what’s coming, plus still keep it interesting.  Don’t tell us where…or even when.  Give us a general time frame and what is being released.  Nothing else.

Can it be done?  Let’s give it a try!