Beer Beer Beer

Beer of the Week: Building Your Collection

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


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


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


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John Linn