Beer of the Week: Building Your Collection

Categories: Beer Beer Beer
John Linn
My sad little beer stash as it stands at the moment.
Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it: How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

There's two types of beer I keep around the house: everyday drinking beer, and bottles I'm saving as part of my collection.

The everyday beer is simple enough to describe.
I usually keep a six-pack of something good in the fridge like a Bell's Two-Hearted Ale or a Brooklyn Lager. It's great if I get some unexpected company or just want to drink a cold one at the end of the day. Plus, as I'm learning, you need these kinds of beers on hand all the time if you ever want to build a real collection.

Let me explain: In addition to the beer in my fridge, I'm trying to grow a stash of specialty bottles that I'll only bust out if the mood strikes me. My collection of reserves, cellared bottles, and homebrews sit in a cabinet in one of my upstairs closets, waiting for the right moment to be popped open.

But growing a beer collection is harder than it sounds. Not drinking that bottle of oak-aged Allagash or Stone XS Imperial Stout you've been saving takes big-time restraint. More often than not, I dip into my collection when I'm out of everyday beer and, for whatever reason, can't get to the store. In those moments, I think to myself, "I'll just replace this bottle next time I go beer shopping."

The process, I'm afraid, is cyclical.

It's for that reason I can't ever seem to get my collection to grow. It usually fluctuates between five and ten bottles depending on how thirsty I get any given day of the week. What can I say; restraint isn't exactly my strong suit.

The only beers I seem to be able to legitimately hold onto are my homebrews. These bottles I tend to be most protective of since (a) they're in limited quantity, and (b) I made them myself. To give you an idea, I still have bottles from the first homebrew batch I made almost two years ago. Those two bomber-sized remnants of my first brew won't get opened unless there's something to celebrate. (Unsurprisingly, when I last opened one a few months ago, its flavor was the best in the bunch.)

But a bottle of some limited-edition Rogue or rare Belgian I bought? Those I can't seem to keep from drinking.

Lately I've resolved to drink a little bit less, and I think that will finally help my beer collection grow. But I think what may actually help me most is making sure I've got that everyday six-pack on hand in case my will breaks down. Otherwise, my collection may be in limbo for some time to come.

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