First Mail Trade

People do crazy things for beer. Take trips across the country to other states and get hotel rooms, wait in lines for hours for a chance at entering a lottery, follow distribution trucks around town, take vacation days to head to limited releases, meet strangers from the Internet to trade… there is seemingly no limit to what people will do. I’ve done some of these things myself, but had never done a mail trade until recently.

I managed to get my hands on about 1750 different beers in Ohio, on work trips and vacations, and while I still have options here, I’ve always known that this is something I wanted to try. I didn’t really put it off, because I didn’t have a trade partner, but I never actively sought one. An opportunity arose to join a group trade and I thought about it for about a week. I didn’t think I was going to do it, but changed my mind and signed up.

The match that I sent to was located in Texas. I used this website to compare what is available there to what is available in Ohio. When filling out the signup they said that they loved IPAs, but enjoyed saisons and pretty much every type of beer. I sent the following:
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The match that sent to me was located in Arizona. I gave him the same basic info, and we talked a little about what I liked. A couple weeks later I had an impressive haul on my counter, including snacks!FullSizeRender

Now, some of the boring details about cost, shipping, and things I learned:

  • Yes, this was absolutely worth doing.
  • Don’t buy shipping (moving) supplies from Lowe’s, it’s way overpriced.
  • Wrap bottle caps and can tabs with electrical tape to prevent them from getting snagged and opening.
  • Place bottles inside of ziploc bags incase anything does break and leak, as the entire box will be thrown away.
  • Wrap bottles and cans with bubble wrap, held on with rubberbands so that the bubble wrap can be re-used.
  • Fill in space between items to prevent shifting, continuous, and especially hard collisions between glass bottles.
  • Place box inside of garbage bag and close. Place box/bag inside of a slightly larger box, with a little more packaging.
  • It is illegal to ship beer through USPS (I didn’t try this), where it is a gray area with UPS/FedEx.
  • FedEx is a little more gentle with boxes than UPS, and has weekend delivery.
  • It cost a little over $20 to ship a 17-18lb box.
  • Print the label and drop it off at the store to avoid questions.

Update

I haven’t wrote for a while but had the itch. I don’t have a specific topic, but figured that I could touch on a handful of small things.

Walking

I had the idea of purchasing a treadmill a couple weeks ago. I looked into the cost, and sat on it for a couple days. I decided to buy it based on the fact that it really wasn’t that much money and it would allow me to get my walking done more efficiently and whenever I choose. In Ohio, now that it is not snowing, it’s too hot to go outside. A treadmill allows me to avoid going outside altogether. It allows me to avoid people. It minimizes discomfort by being in my own home. I don’t have to worry about getting bit by someone’s lost/stray dog, or a snake or something. Yeah, these are actually things I worry about.

I’ve never owned any kind of fitness equipment, mainly because I’ve never needed it. Not only that, it’s so unsightly and most of the time people buy that stuff and use it for a week and then stop. Then it just sits around, looking ugly – a permanent eyesore and reminder of how to not spend money. It’s almost as bad as wasting money on a gym membership. So, hopefully that’s not what this becomes. Seeing that I’ve been walking more for the last 2-3 years I think my habits are pretty solid, which helped justify the cost. I also bought some dumbbells because they’re cheap and apparently a really good/versatile thing to own if you want to take care of yourself just a little bit better than the average person. Too bad I don’t really know what to do with those, but at least I won’t be embarrassing myself in public and wasting money to do it. Anyway, now that I have the treadmill, 25,000 step days are common. I’m making decent progress towards the 100,000 goal.

Beer

It has been a good few months beer-wise. All of the best IPAs come out early in the year, stouts are easy to find, and April beings Founder’s chaos. One thing I’ve realized is that rare and popular beers really are not worth the time it takes to hunt them down. It’s a pain in the ass, and beer nerds are some of the worst people on the planet. I attended a CBS release, which consumed way too much of my day and required me to endure hours of stress. Was the beer good? Yes, of course. Would I do it again? No. For me, once I’ve tried it once, I am good. I’ll save the next event for those who didn’t make it to one yet this year. It helps that they had 2 other beers from Founders that I’ve been trying to get my hands on, so I do not regret going at all. But for me, things become unenjoyable once it becomes repetitive and stressful. Sure, I drink a lot of beer more than once if I enjoy it. I can go to the store and buy at least 5 different beers that are pretty damned good whenever I feel like it. It makes waiting in lines and being breathed on at the bar really unappealing in comparison. Maybe I’ll go to another next year, maybe not. Who knows. I will continue to buy as many different beers as I can, though.. always searching for hidden gems and avoiding hype. In Ohio, distribution includes a few breweries that I’ve found make consistently great beers that you can buy pretty much anytime:

  • Fat Heads
  • Boulevard
  • Left Hand
  • Sixpoint
  • Stone
  • Clown Shoes
  • Ommegang

I am sure there are a few more, but those are the ones that come to mind right now. I will buy anything that these companies put on a shelf in my local store.

Homebrewing

I spent my entire budget this month before I ever finished planning for the Hefe I want to brew for this summer. Brewing this will happen in early May, and it should be ready for June. I don’t really have a lot planned for it, just going to make a decent quality hefeweizen. 5-6%, maybe a little more on the banana side, less on the clove. No funny business.

Sports

Hockey playoffs are going, which is always great.. but better when your team is in it. I still watch every game, but meh. I hope the Caps win, but realistically think the Canadiens have a very good shot. Goaltender is my favorite position, goaltending is so important in the playoffs… and Carey Price is the best goaltender in the world right now. So, there we go. Not going to focus on the teams I don’t want to win and players that I don’t like.. no need.

But I will say that Edmonton winning the draft lottery is terrible (and pretty much killed any belief that it is fixed). Edmonton getting McDavid doesn’t benefit anybody. It’s bad for McDavid, it’s bad for the league, and it’s bad for Edmonton as long as they keep getting fed top-tier talent to waste. The team needs an overhaul, I hope that happens sooner rather than later. A lot of good forwards on that team.. now if they had some defensemen, a goaltender, new coaching staff, and new management they’d be dangerous.

Football (soccer) has started. It’s my second sport after hockey, and seeing that hockey is still going on that still has priority. I have made it to a few crew games, though. They’ve been playing great and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. Not much else to say there. However, I did have an absolutely terrible experience with their team shop right as the season started.

They sent me a jersey with a hole in it and numbers stuck together. Apparently they outsourced the labor and whoever they hired obviously didn’t give a shit. To make matters worse, they waited until the start of the season to hire some new company to handle food/retail/merchandise at the stadium. I called, and called, left voicemails, sent emails.. nothing. Finally I started looking up individuals that worked there since they weren’t monitoring their store number/email. So, after it took days to get a hold of someone, I was relieved when they told me to bring it up and they would “take care of me.” So I did, then found out that they don’t have a press there. Okay, fine.. I’ll wait for it.

About a month after I placed the original order I realized that I still hadn’t heard anything. So I wrote back, asking if there was any update. That’s when they decided to tell me that they were unable to get any more of the jersey I bought in. They offered me a replica and partial refund, or another authentic jersey. In so many words, I told them no thanks and then asked for a full refund.

“I have to admit that I am very disappointed. This level of customer service is not representative of an organization that values its fans. It has been 3 weeks since I dropped it off, when were you planning on letting me know that you were out of stock?”

This was the reply: “We just found out that we cannot get the jersey back in. There has been a big transition with the merch department and we have been trying to work through all the issues as quickly as possible.” 

At which point I asked them to please issue me a refund or I would contact my credit card company to dispute the charge. They issued the refund and I eventually purchased gear elsewhere after I calmed down.

I was pretty pissed off about it at the time, though. Enough that I questioned if I would even follow the team anymore. After a few days I calmed down and realized that would be a pretty harsh reaction to a bad experience with their retail store. It’s not like I don’t enjoy the sport or the experience of attending games. The players themselves didn’t do anything to me. While I really wanted that jersey at the time, and I could still order one from the league, I no longer wanted it. I would always associate it with this extremely negative experience. Maybe I’ll order another next season… if I do, it certainly won’t be from the team store.