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How can I track down that one special beer?


How can I track down that one special beer?
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Question: How can I track down that one special beer?
So, your buddy tried a particular beer and loved it so much that he has convinced you that you must try it. Or, you heard about a new rare beer on BeerAdvocate.com and decided that if you can’t find a bottle of it for yourself, life simply would not be worth living. How can you find that rare beer?
Answer: The first stop for any beer quest is your local beer store. It doesn't have to be the best one or the store with the biggest selection. If you have already scoured the shelves of all the beer shops in your area and satisfied yourself that none of them have your beer, then any of them can help you with the next step. Stop by the store with the most accommodating staff. Try to pick a time when they are not very busy. Ask if they would check to see if their distributors carry the beer.

Every beer store has a number of big books under the counter with lists and lists of different alcoholic beverages that their distributors have on hand. If the clerk knows what he’s doing, he can find your beer quickly if it’s available in your area. If he does order it, you’ll probably have to buy a whole case. There’s a reason the store doesn’t carry the beer regularly and you probably can’t talk them into selling you just one six-pack then having to try to sell the other three themselves.

If the distributor route fails, it’s time for you to get to know the brewery. Some breweries these days have a lot of useful information on their website. A really good website will tell you where the beer is distributed regionally and some will even list the shops and bars where their beer is sold. You might just be lucky enough to learn that somewhere near you carries the beer and a short road trip is all it will take. Call ahead, though. Just because the brewery’s website says that Joe’s Package Liquor in a city three hours away carries their beer, that doesn’t mean that Joe is carrying the brand you want. Call Joe and see what you can arrange. I’d leave out the fact that you live out of town. Joe might be afraid that you’ll flake out and leave him stuck with a case of beer that neither he nor his customers want. Joe can be suspicious that way.

Another thing that you might learn from the brewery’s website is that, though the distribution area is too far to drive, it’s where your cousin Andrea lives. Well, then, problem solved. Find out for sure where your brand is sold and drop Andrea an email asking her to go pick it up and mail it to you. Now, remember that the laws about shipping alcohol vary from state to state and country to country. For example, check out how the residents get out of state wine shipped to them. Make sure that everything’s on the up and up. You don’t want to send Andrea to jail, do you? Well, maybe you do but that’s between you and her and that’s not what we’re talking about.

If Andrea doesn’t want to help you or when you emailed her you found out that she was transferred to Anchorage 8 months ago and why the hell don’t you keep up with your family? (I’m starting to see why you wouldn’t be too broken up if Andrea wound up in the hoosegow!) You’re next stop is the beer geek community. Go to BeerAdvocate.com and find some of the members there who have reviewed your beer. Drop them a line and see if they’d be willing to pick up a few bottles for you. Be sure to mention where you’re from because there might be a beer you could pick up for them for a straight swap. See above regarding staying legal when you ship alcohol.

If all of those things fail, try contacting the brewery directly. There’s probably not a lot that they can do for you but you might learn that they’re considering adding a distributor in your area or perhaps your phone call will inspire them to start thinking about distributing in your area. That’s all the stuff of fantasy but, you never know where contacting the brewer will get you.

In the end, you might just have to suck it up and do without. There are just some beers in the world that some of us will never get to try. Good luck!

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