This guest series has actually been written by Howard, a reader and frequent commenter/educator here on Thank Heaven for Beer.  Since his experience far outweighs ours, we thought it only fitting to open up the floor.  Thanks Howard!

If you want to try something that’s not available at your local liquor stores, you have four options:

      1. Online Retailers
      2. Ebay
      3. Traveling
      4. Trading

The first three are very straightforward transactions: you pay the money, and you get your beer. The fourth option is a little trickier, but also more rewarding.

When you trade beer, you set up a deal with another beer enthusiast where you ship them the beer that they want, and they ship you the beer that you want.

What kind of beer you trade is really up to you, because there are people out there willing to trade the most rare and hard to find beer, or the year-round beer from their local brewery. Just looking at the first page of the trading forum right now, the following beers are up for grabs: Kate the Great, Dark Lord, Firestone Walker 10, 11 and 12, Mirror Mirror, Sculpin, Hopslam, Double Crooked Tree, Barrel Aged Blackout, New Glarus Unplugged, Brute, Behemoth Blonde, and Barrel Aged Borris.

First, a word of warning: trading beer is expensive and addictive. The costs go up because once you start trading, pretty much everything you ever wanted is now at your fingertips, and because the weight of beer can lead to some very high shipping charges. Also, there is no guarantee that the person you’re trading with will ship your beer. People don’t get screwed often, but it does happen.

There is a ton of information to cover, so I’m going to break it up into smaller chunks. First I will start with some discussion on the value of beer and trading etiquette, followed by how to setup a trade. I’ll then move on to some more complicated trades. We’ll wrap things up with packing and shipping. If you have any questions along the way, post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Written by Howard.