A Year of Unique Beer - First Quarter Update

I'm a believer in making one's own fun, setting challenges, and turning life into a game whenever possible.  This year's game?  2017 will be a year of unique beer.  I don't mean that I'll try to drink interesting and different beers this year - I mean it literally.  Every beer in 2017 will be singular.  Today's post is the first quarter update, and I'll also lay out the rules.

Getting to Here 

I drank 381 pints of beer last year.  How do I know?  I was tracking it, thanks to a fun conversation I had with my wife.  The question we had was, "do I drink a barrel of beer per year?"  Turns out I do - about 1.54 barrels, to be precise.  

The "roughly one beer per day" average, though, started us down a different track: what if they were all different beers?  A new beer for every new day?  Not that I'd be limited to one per day or would HAVE to drink one a day, but just that there would be no repeats.  

Challenge accepted.  Why?  Well, because it might be interesting, but also because it struck me as a great way to test the depth and breadth of the craft beer world (at least in our area) in 2017.  If this is easy, then it says a lot about the variety of beers we get to choose from.  If not, then it might suggest that there's not as much choice out there as we think (what if bars all have roughly the SAME 25 beers on tap?).  

The Rules

Pretty simple, really - no repeated beers.  I'd better enjoy that one Celebration Ale, because it's the only one I'm getting all year.  Now, inevitably, we need to work out some kinks here, so here's the general setup (if you want to play along at home):

  • All beers will be tracked in Untappd, and checked-in when drank.
  • A "counted" beer is a pour of more than 6 ounces, but not more than 22 (unless poured into a liter mug or boot as part of a festival situation).  As a result, samplers are fine, as is a small pour of a shared bottle, but anything else checks it off the list for the year.
  • This applies to homebrew, too (even my own). 
  • Beers served in different ways (nitro, cask, etc.) ARE distinct, but ONLY if they exist separately in Untappd.
  • Beers that are tied to a specific year or version/batch number (Luponic Distortion, Black Ops, etc.) are distinct, but (again) only if they exist separately in Untappd.  

That's it.  

The Year So Far

BEER COUNT: 108

Bottom line up front?  So far this has been a breeze, with just one notable exception.  Even though (like most people, I imagine) I frequent the same 5-6 drinking establishments most of the time, I've found it to be no challenge at all finding new beers to try at each visit. Surprisingly, to me, this is true even at brewpubs; their seasonal rotations and one-off beers are more than enough to keep me covered, at least for now.  It's also interesting because I find myself ordering more beers from breweries I don't know well, or trying more seasonal beers, or going for that nitro-IPA even though I don't generally go in for that.  It's been a great excuse to drink outside my comfort zone a bit more!

I also found that most of the beer I drink at home tends to be the more unusual or rare beers, anyway.  I don't generally pop open something just to drink it while watching football or to unwind at the end of the day, so that's been no problem, either.

No, the only real problem is when I'm going calling on friends/family who aren't beer people, or when they visit us and there's social drinking going on.  Since we're talking about 12 oz. cans/bottles in most cases, it isn't that hard to check off four or five in a single happy hour/dinner situation.

Do you know how hard it is to keep a supply of single bottles on hand?  I mean, mixed cases usually give at LEAST three of each beer, so that's no solution.  For now I'm getting by with the "mix your own six-pack" option at Wegmans, but those bottles/cans aren't always in the best shape and I'm concerned about how much they rotate.  I've also been making a LITTLE progress with trading my "extra" beers with others, hunting for equitable trades for things I haven't had yet, and asking friends who are traveling to pick up something local and cut me out some single bottles from their haul.

I'm going to see if there's a more-systematic approach to this that I can utilize.  Maybe cut a deal with a local beer distributor for a full case of singles?  But in any case, it's interesting that so far the major challenge isn't variety, but logistics.  

Next update: July.  In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for how to source singles, please feel free to let me know at josh@beer-simple.com!

Keep it simple.

JJW