Friday, August 3, 2012

Beer and ebay

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Last weekend, the auction site ebay created a stir in response to their decision to remove some beer auctions from their website.. This took some people by surprise because, for some time now, people have been auctioning off beer on ebay despite ebays policy of  not allowing 'the sale of alcoholic beverages on its U.S. website, except for pre-approved sales of wine.' It seems the folks auctioning off beer were able to get around that rule by stating the 'value of the item is in the collectible container and not its contents' (an example of such a post can be found here). In other words, the bottle is more valuable than the beer within it. 

Now, I believe that ebay does not review every auction that is posted to its website, but how can a beer bottle (or any beverage container) be worth more than its contents? The lone exception, in my opinion, being OK soda cans. The soda within the can was terrible, but those cans were prrrty (regardless of what TIME magazine said)..

I understand why breweries such as Hill Farmsted and Russian River were angered when they learned their beers were being sold at incredibly high prices - they make beer for themselves and other beer fans to enjoy. Knowing that someone came and bought a bottle/bottles of their beer with no intention of drinking them, but rather to sell them at a mark up on ebay or somewhere else, keeps beer out of the hands of beer fans that may have traveled a great distance to try and purchase the beer with every intention of enjoying it. Thus, I think that the cracking down on beer auctions via ebay is a great thing. If that stance angers you because you make money by acquiring (rare) beer and then selling it on ebay, then fuck you. But if up until now, you used ebay to acquire beer to enjoy, then allow me to suggest other (probably cheaper) options for obtaining beer that is not available in your local market or that you were not able to acquire in your local market when it was released.

  • Trade for beer
    • It can be a bit unnerving trading beer with someone whom you have never met before, but you are lucky that beer people = good people. Trades can be arranged face-to-face with someone in your homebrew club or beer appreciation club. If you are looking to obtain a beer or beers that are not available in your local market, consider arranging a trade via beeradvocate (Beer Advocate's rules on beer trading can be found here). Keep in mind that it is understood, at least with trades arranged through, that the more inexperienced beer trader will ship their beer before the other trader will ship theirs. 
  • Make arrangement with a family member or friend that lives in a beer market that has the beer you are interested in
    • At this year's Dark Lord Day, I traded beer with a guy (lets call him Sam) who told me that he has a few Bruery Reserve Society Memberships that his sister (who lives near the Bruery) keeps tabs on. This same sister sends him the beer that the membership allotted for him. In addition, Sam (who lives in Ohio) asks his friends to travel to the Bells Eccentric Cafe for their beer releases to pick up a bottle (or more) for him.
  • Consider planning a trip/vacation around the release/obtaining of beer not available in your local market
    • My fiance and I are planning a pre-honeymoon trip before our actual honeymoon. The cities that we are considering are listed below. The thing they all have in common - great breweries that make beer that we cannot get in the midwest..
      • Portland, OR
      • NYC
      • San Francisco, CA
      • Seattle, WA
In addition to the reasons stated above, I think that the removal of beer auctions from ebay is a good thing because it may get people more interested in homebrewing due to the fact that some of the highly sought after beers (and other not so highly sought after beers) can be made at home as clones of the actual beer. A few examples are provided below.
If you would like to read a bit more about beer auctions on ebay, and the opinions of a few breweries, consider reading the posts at the other end of  the links provided below.

What are your thoughts on selling beer via ebay? Have you ever sold beer on ebay before? Have you ever traded beer via beeradvocate or other beer sites before? Let us know!

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