When I was invited to my first bottle share I actually had no idea what it was. I knew there would be beer and that’s about it. My rudimentary google search was filled with articles telling me to bring “good” beer. Well, thanks, that’s helpful I guess. I had a bottle of Blushing Monk from Founders and a few of the Deep Woods Series bottles from Revolution (these bottles come in boxes with little stories, so in my mind that meant they’re “good”). I doubled checked with an out of state friend who assured me it was no big deal and I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself to bring the “right” bottle of beer.
For reference, the group of us attending the bottle share are all members of the Mikkeller Running Club. When I joined I thought it was a running club that liked beer. I have now come to realize we are more of a beer club who happen to run. When I arrived the table was overflowing with bottles of beer I had never even heard of. Everyone kept whispering about something called Black Fist which sounded both ominous and intriguing.
As we opened bottle after bottle and passed them around I became more and more intimidated about opening the ones I had brought. At first I thought everyone just wanted to show off since this was our first bottle share but I have since learned that these folks are actually really serious beer drinkers and this is their norm. We went through somewhere around 40 bottles of beer in just about every style and from various regions. I discovered some beer styles I didn’t know I enjoyed until that day. We never did get to the bottles I brought but I wasn’t disappointed at all. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in a completely foreign situation and learning from everyone around me. Oh, and that Black Fist, mother.of.god. why didn’t anyone warn me that such things existed? My body was not ready for that 26% abv beer.
A few important lessons I learned from observing:
- If it isn’t your bottle, don’t open it
- If you want to share your bottle, open it
- Be mindful of your pour size, this is about sharing
- Wait until the owner of the bottle comments before saying anything about their beer (it is impolite to tell them their beer gave you Forest Whitaker eye, save it for your untappd check-in)
- Let others be the one to praise your beer, stay humble
- Eat. Drink water. Eat some more. Seriously, stay hydrated, your future self will thank you
- Don’t be afraid to try new things (i.e. new styles or even mixing beers together which is especially tasty with Founders Rubaeus and Breakfast Stout)
A few weeks ago I was invited to another bottle share with the same group and this time I was ready. I knew we would have a few members from our San Diego chapter visiting so I decided to grab some local Chicago beers for them to try. I picked a brewery that I know is solid and got 2 bottles (one beer I had tried and enjoyed and another I had not tried but wanted to). This proved to be a great choice as both bottles were open (and enjoyed!). I felt like I had graduated to the big leagues that day but my moment was cut short when the next round of bottles appeared. We did a vertical of Dark Lord years 2012-current. Sweet baby Jesus. So much goodness. As if that wasn’t enough, someone nonchalantly placed a 2008 bottle of Bourbon County Stout on the table to finish off the night. While the whales were incredible, I’m so glad I brought some lighter options so that we didn’t die that night. The variety in beers was also nice since we had a mix of sours, stouts, and more. So I guess what I’m saying is, don’t be afraid of bringing something that isn’t “worthy” to a bottle share. I probably had the least rare beers there and no one judged me for it, I survived, I enjoyed a lot of delicious beer and next time I’ll have to remember to bring more snacks.