Beer and Pavement

Cellared Beers and Stacks of Records During Snowpocalypse 2011

Posted in Intersections by SM on February 4, 2011

The kid enjoying a snow fort.

As previously mentioned, we here in Middle Missouri were blanketed under 18-20 inches of snow. For those who live in Minnesota or Alaska, this might seem tame, but by Missouri standards, it’s downright apocalyptic[1]. The snow stopped sometime Tuesday night/Wednesday morning and as of Thursday afternoon, most of my neighborhood was still trapped by the snow[2].

At one point, while shoveling some of the white stuff, a neighbor trudged by on a beer run. Apparently someone down the street with 4-wheel drive was offering a trip to the store. I told him that’s why I have a cellar. He kept on going.

Sure, there’s the allure of a collection, but a beer cellar is really just a place to keep your beer. Because of this cellar, I never have to go traipsing through the snow for a nice brew. In fact, since the storm, I’ve had a Schlafly No. 20 Vol. 1 Imperial Pilsner, Great Lakes Nosferatu Stock Ale, Founders 2010 KBS, Boulevard Dark Truth Stout, 2008 Bell’s Old Ale, Stillwater Cellar Door, Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout, and Boulevard Tank 7. That’s quite a variety of great beers I wouldn’t be able to find at any store. I was prepared for Snowmageddon without even preparing[3]. The cellar serves this purpose as well as if not better than it does simply providing space for one’s collection.

The same can be said for records. Although I haven’t put on as many records as I would have liked over the past week[4], the option has been there. I do realize that this is different in that people have access to an infinite amount of music online, but vinyl warms the cockles and pops and crackles in time with your fireplace. Few collections can help you pass the time the way a record collection can.

What did I listen to? Well, it was mostly new stuff (to me). The KC Accidental double-LP has seen a lot of time in this house already, but I’ve also been playing the new Iron & Wine as well as Destroyer’s Kaputt. To mix it up, I pulled out The White Stripes’ De Stijl and White Blood Cells as a way to assist Detroit takes it final blow and say goodbye to the band forever[5].

Blizzards give you time for such pursuits[6]. You either do something with it, or you suffer the cabin fever. So, in preparation for the next blizzard or other natural catastrophe, go fill a closet with beer and buy a shit-ton of records[7].

1Columbia, a town of over 100,000 people, only has 18 snowplows. That’s not enough for 18 inches of snow.
2Just as I was about to dig a path to tracks left by neighborhood 4×4’s, a giant plow came down the street…and promptly got stuck at the bottom of the cul de sac. After finally working its way out, another plow made it’s way down the street…and promptly got stuck at the bottom of the cul de sac. The first plow pulled the second plow out.
3However, a little prepping would have been a good idea. I brewed some beer, but I started too late for this storm. Two batches are now in secondary dry-hopping. Also, my cellar is dwindling quickly. I’ve been more selective lately and a “shipment” from Ohio has yet to arrive. So, I had what I had and I made due.
4Two-year-olds with nothing to do make record listening rather difficult. I was lucky to play what I played.
5Honestly, I didn’t realize they were still a band.
6The beard still grows. I like how icicles form as I shovel snow.
7I intended to write something more substantial here, but I’ve been busy. Funny how much busier one can be when snowed in. Thank god my kid’s day care is open today. Otherwise, I don’t know how I would handle another day of this.


Posted in Intersections by SM on April 7, 2010

No matter how many records I buy, I can’t fill this void.

When I was younger, I collected baseball cards. I bought some complete sets and some valuable rookie cards1. I kept my cards in plastic sheets, locked in binders. To an outsider, my collection was an obsession. To someone who obsessed over baseball cards, my collection was a nice, little hobby. I collected those cards to fill time, shoe boxes, and to connect me with a community of collectors. I suppose the hobby filled a void, a void only Eric Davis could fill.

The same can be said about my two current collections. I collect beers and music with the same tempered affection2 with which I collected baseball cards in order to fill some sort of void or need/want. Collections do not rule me or put me into great debt. They are hobbies that provide me some enjoyment and something about which to talk. If that so-called void is filled, that’s OK too.

The music collection has gone on for a while. I gathered cassette tapes and records in my early days throughout the eighties3. This eventually shifted to CD’s as labels switched formats. Aside from the random 7″ or LP, I gathered hundreds of CD’s4. I also collected concert experiences which included ticket stubs, t-shirts, or just memories. As the LP came back into fashion, I’ve come full circle in limiting my collection to just vinyl5.

The beer thing hasn’t been a hobby until the past couple of years. Sure, age and availability was a factor, but I didn’t really get into craft beer until I started trying more kinds of beer, spending a little more for something a lot better6. Now, I even have a beer cellar7 where some beers have sat for nearly two years. Some bottles contain beer that is actively evolving into a drinkable beverage8. And I collect through drinking9, not just holding. There are beer dinners and tastings. I break open something that’s been sitting around all the time. Beer is to be consumed not contained.

The key to collecting is the enjoyment. It’s not the conquest or filling an emptiness. It’s not compensation for something you’re lacking. A collection is only worthwhile if you can enjoy it.

That’s why I’ve taken more to the collecting of experiences rather than things. With music, I love the experience of placing the needle on the record only to get up twenty minutes later to flip the record and do it again. Although I love the ritual of playing an LP, nothing beats a great live show. Similarly, sampling a rare beer at a nice beer-centric bar with a buddy makes it all the more enjoyable. I also don’t believe in holding onto a beer too long just for the sake of the collection. If it’s been in the cellar for a couple of weeks10, it needs to be consumed.

With boys and men, the quantity is often the goal. We one-up each other all the time with the number of beers in our cellar or records on the shelf. Whole rooms are dedicated to collections. This, however, is not usually my goal. Sure, I am running out of room for records, CD’s, t-shirts11, etc. And there are more beers in my cellar than I can realistically consume on my own over the next several months. Any collection is about quantity, but the key is not to let that rule your life.

More importantly, a collection is about quality. I only buy the records I believe are good and that I actually want to hear12. I choose rock shows that I really want to see12. The beers I buy anymore are primarily because I know the style and/or brewery is good. I only want my collections to represent what I feel is the best. Quality also has its limits. I don’t own every record I want or think I should have13. There just isn’t room in my basement nor wallet to buy all those records. Same goes for the beer. Most of the beer I can’t have costs almost as much to ship as it does just to buy. So, I temper my beer mania and join a group order now and again or go without14.

If the size or character of a collection is too much, it ceases to be enjoyable. I’ve gone through periods where this was the case. Most of the credit card debt in my life is directly attributable to spending sprees at record stores, sometimes for a bunch of material I don’t even listen to anymore15. At times, my beer cellar is overflowing with beers of a shelf-life of six months or less. I’ve since learned to limit these sorts of brews as I stock up on beers that can stand to sit on a shelf for a year or two.

I could go on and on about the specifics of my collections. I could inventory my entire vinyl stockpile, but I won’t16. I could do as the guy below did and record my beer cellar7 for all to see, but I won’t do that either.

My collections pale in comparison to those mentioned above, but I’m OK with that. My music and beer collections are what I can handle. It’s all I need for enjoyment outside of my family and friends. There’s still that Flaming Lips t-shirt from 1995 to remind me of one of the two or three best shows I’ve ever seen. All of my Dogfish Head 120-minute IPA’s have been consumed and savored17. There are records still to play and some beers to drink in the near future. The enjoyment is not over.

Consume your collections. Don’t let them consume you. That’s what I’m trying to do anyway.

1Eric Davis was my favorite. Too bad he was so injury-prone.
2I don’t love them any less than the next guy. I have just learned to control my obsessions.
3Of which I have almost none. Between selling them to used record shops and being redistributed to my family, I have very little to show for this period of my life.
4Which, oddly enough, are kept in binders much like those still holding my baseball cards.
5And the digital downloads which accompany the vinyl.
6This is the obstacle for everyone to get over when starting a hobby in craft beer. You will spend more than $4 for a sixer of a good beer. You may even spend $10 for a bomber which is the equivalent of two beers. Think about that for a moment, PBR drinker.
7Really, it’s just a closet under the stairs. Did I mention this before?
8Homebrewing represents something I was never able to do with music: create my own.
9as evidenced by my expanding belly.
10Or up to two years if the beer is cellar-able. This would primarily be anything imperial, stouts, barley wines, certain Belgian brews, Lambics, etc. Beers to drink ASAP, for me, are primarily low ABV and highly hopped. Hops lose their potency as a beer ages.
11I recently retired a pile of rock concert t’s to a bin for my daughter to have when she gets older. How cool will it be when Lucia shows up in art class with an Archers of Loaf t-shirt featuring the hockey player from Vs. the Greatest of All-Time EP? Actually, no one will get it. I better just hang on to that one.
12Although, this does not always work out.
13I really wanted that vinyl copy of Gentlemen I found on eBay last year.
14Or empty the local shelves.
15Shuffle reveals embarrassing material all the time.
16There is nothing wrong with Nardy’s list. I am amazed not at just the breadth of his collection, but the depth as well. He not only has one Marvin Gaye album, but three; Led Zeppelin occupies six spots; and the Beatles – yes, those Beatles – provide 12 LP’s. I’ve seen it in-person. It’s quite impressive.
17I’ll get more.

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