Featured Contributor Bill Mayeroff @bill_mayeroff
Well, folks, we did it. We survived Thanksgiving weekend. You survived the gluttony, the racist relatives you only see once a year, the airports and the travel.
And if you’re a beer fan, especially in Chicago, you may also have survived the long lines at liquor stores to get hold of a beer that to many beer fans is the official taste of Black Friday. I’m talking, of course, of Goose Island‘s Bourbon County Brand Stout and its variants – Proprietors’, Coffee Stout, Barleywine, Regal Rye and the ever-elusive Rare.
The annual Black Friday release of Bourbon County and its variants has become a massive event here in Chicago. Beer geeks citywide converge on Chicago’s best beer emporiums, some even camping overnight, to get their hands on a bottle or two. And a lot of those people will leave without getting the variant they wanted or with no Bourbon County at all.
For some beer geeks, the annual release of Bourbon County becomes an obsession. They spend the time leading up to Black Friday strategizing about where to go to have the best chance of getting hold of all the variants. And if they don’t get what they’re after, many will turn to trading, scouring beer-related message boards and Facebook groups and trying to figure out what in their collection they are willing to part with in order to obtain a bottle of Bourbon County.
Don’t get me wrong – Bourbon County is great beer. I call the 2012 version of Coffee Stout a life-changing beer. And I’ve been among those waiting in line at Binny’s on a cold November morning to get hold of a couple of bottles.
But what I realized after spending a morning freezing my ample butt in line is that while the beer I obtained was really good, it’s just beer and if the process of getting it is too arduous or uncomfortable, it can actually take away from the enjoyment of it. And because it was so tough to obtain the beer, you almost don’t want to drink it. You feel like you should save it as some sort of trophy.
That’s not what beer’s all about, guys. It’s not about winning and losing. It’s not about having that one bottle that none of your beer geek friends have. It’s not about being able to post pictures on Facebook and bragging to the Internet about the efforts you went to in order to obtain a bottle of something few others have.
It’s just beer. Beer is meant to be enjoyed. It’s meant to be shared. It’s meant, above all, to be consumed. It’s not meant to sit as a trophy on your shelf or in your cellar (unless you’re aging it, but I would hope that even if you’re aging a beer, you ultimately intend to drink it).
Not only that, but there’s no shortage of great beer. We beer geeks live in a great age. There’s fantastic beer available all over the country. No matter what flavors, tastes and styles you like, there are a ton of great examples of it. So many, in fact, that it’s unlikely you’ll ever try them all, especially since new ones are always being created.
But if you focus too intently on obtaining or finding a certain beer, you can become blind to the other examples of that type of beer that might be as good or better as the one you’re seeking. And nobody wants to miss out on a great beer that may have been right in front of them.
Our motto here at SommBeer is “We don’t take serious beer too seriously.” And frankly, that’s a philosophy a lot of beer geeks need to adopt. Beer is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not having fun with it, if you’re not enjoying it, if you’re more focused on getting beer than you are on actually drinking it, you’re really missing out.
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Check out my opinions on various beers at www.sommbeer.com