Craft Your Own 6 Pack

Featured Contributor Matt  @SportsNCraftBeer

You stand there among the multitude of beer choices in your favorite grocery store or liquor store.  It is like being a kid and going to a place that sells puppies — you want to take them all home. Admit it, a small part of you feels guilty for selecting one brew over another. “I’m sorry Mr. Stout, but I already have one of you. I need an IPA for my home.” I’ll bet they cry at night if they don’t get picked.

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You’ve been there. I’ve been there. It’s overwhelming.  You love them all.  What do you buy?  West Coast or East Coast — or something from the heartland? IPA, DIPA, or maybe an IPL? Session or Seasonal? Stout or Porter? Black lager? Is it on sale or not? Is it rated high or not? 4 pack or 6 pack or maybe a bomber?

You think, “maybe I should buy a few six packs.” But then, you think, “maybe I should get the 12-pack variety pack from [pick your favorite brewer]?”

You stand there.  It’s like you can’t move.  You came in for beer and you are now puzzled, stressed. It’s a tough decision. This decision will make or break your evenings for the next week or two or three.  My God the pressure!

Sometimes you go into a craft beer section of a liquor store and you can tell the beer geeks — they look like meerkats with their heads poking out above the shelves, looking around and not sure of what to do.

And then you see it. The “craft your own six pack.” The moment you see it, the chorus of singers serenade you as the light shines upon this magical wonderment that allows you to pick whatever you want. It seems cheap and the variety is amazing — different brands and types galore!

MixMAtch

But then,  like a thirsty man traversing the Sahara with  hopes of finding the magical oasis, you discoverer that what you thought it was, in fact, was not.  You have been duped! A look at the date on the bottle and you realize the beer has either passed it’s “best buy” date or very close to it. It’s not fresh.  This is no puppy you’ve discovered, it’s a old dog with bad hips that can’t see.  Poor guy.

You often find this same story at places like Walgreen’s or non-traditional locations for buying craft beer. I recently came across a six-pack, while waiting for a prescription, that was six months past its “freshness” date.

Many brands make finding the date of bottling impossible to find, or it is non-existent.  I avoid these.  The simple fact is, many “create your owns,” “mix and matches,” and “craft your own six packs,” are old beers that have been removed from the main aisle and sold individually as a way of moving merchandise.

Always check the bottling dates, no matter where you are shopping or what part of the store your beer resides. If you want to experience great beer, experience it when the beer is still great.  Better yet, go to your local brewery and order a flight — that’s the way to “mix and match.”

The decision is never easy. You can only buy and store so many beers. You’ll just have to deal with the fact that some of the beers will have to wait for someone else to provide them with a good home.  And, sadly, some beers get old and never find a good owner, so they get put down — the drain.
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Matt’s Bio:

Writer, beer lover, and sports aficionado.

Chicago

Twitter Bio  @SportsChipsnDip

#craftbeer #beer  #sommbeer

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Mathew Powers

Mathew Powers

Forever part of the Sommbeer family, Matt's journey from beer geek to beer writer has included regular contributions to Chilled Magazine, Thrillist.com, and his blog, "A Pint of Chicago," for the Chicago Tribune Media Group. He's also published non-beer-related items on various magazines, "webzines," and Ebooks. But, Sommbeer was, is, and always will be his home.
Mathew Powers

4 thoughts on “Craft Your Own 6 Pack”

  1. Great comments, one and all. I wrote in this submission, “Always check the bottling dates, no matter where you are shopping or what part of the store your beer resides,” but in retrospect I should have emphasized that part of my point more clearly. Quite often the mix&match sections are, as I described, the left-overs or the stuff that’s been in the store the longest. However, many times the bottles on the shelves are quite old, too. In contrast, as others have mentioned, some stores are adamant about making sure every bottle in every section is fresh and have great mix&match sections/policies — those are a gem!
    In the end, I just wanted to get people to check dates, but I probably shouldn’t have been so jumpy on craft your own 6 pack sections, although I still think in many stores, that is where one is most likely to find an old product.
    Thanks for the input — Cheers!!

     
  2. I was always a big fan of make your own 6 packs as a great way to try new beers without committing to a full 6 pack. This article got me thinking more about how fresh of a beer I am actually getting. While some stores (as one comment states) allows you to pull from existing 6 packs (one local store does that) I was at a rather large Liquor Store in Louisville yesterday. They had a large selection of make your own 6 packs. Then I saw the Atwater Hop A Peel, with a bottled date of 10/2014.

    Always a buyer beware, as may, or may not, be getting the freshest beer.

     
  3. We have an awesome local craft beer only store in our area that allows you to take a single from any 4 or 6 pack in the store. They use the shelves above the 4/6 packs to put the singles left over from packs that have been broken up. You are guaranteed freshness, and you can literally take 1 of anything instead of having to buy an entire pack. Love that store…

     
  4. That’s a shame. My local stores all have a pick and mix section, but it’s not the old stuff. Craft is only just taking off here so singles is the easiest way to entice people to try something new.

    Lucky me, I can grab one from each brewery, from pale ale to Russian Imperial Stout!

    Would you be more interested if they were on sale?

     

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