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Unpopular Opinion: Big Bottle Shares are Trash

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Are big bottle shares just code language for adults to get wasted, or is it genuinely about trying new things and making new friends? Brent and Tony debate via text for your reading pleasure.

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This may be the most unpopular opinion of all, so we had to step it up a bit from Facebook to the site. This is literally a text convo between Brent and Tony. They don’t text with 100% perfect grammar, so we edited it for your reading ease. Enjoy.

Tony:
Alright. Let’s do this already.

I think bottle shares are trash.

Why do they even need to be called bottle shares? That makes it lame from the jump. We drink beer. We hang out. If we hang out, we’re gonna drink beer. Why does it need a name??

Brent Topa:
Sharing is caring. Same fundamentals as beer trade. I’m sharing part of my collection in return for yours, maybe even throwing in an extra or two for you try. Sharing anything these days is harder and harder despite what we were taught in elementary school. I love the name.

Tony:
So corny, but such a good reply. But let’s be real for a minute. Isn’t it just a bunch of dudes getting drunk?

Brent Topa:
Certainly can be but that’s never my intention and I would avoid any share that has that goal. What takes shares closer to their name are the people that bring beers and walk around offering samples and introducing themselves. Bringing cans and setting them on the table is the cost of admission. Offering samples is next level.

I’ve seen it a hundred times. Monster turn-off. I’m more interested in meeting people, learning about the beers, how they got them, and growing a community. If I get so drunk that I blow that goal, I failed.

Tony:
Hahah that’s epic. One more reason I’ll never be at a big share. Even if folks aren’t going with the intention of getting wasted, how can you tell me the graveyard pics with DOZENS of cans/bottles lined up don’t equal sloppy drunk?

Brent Topa:
Without being there, I have no idea. Aside from one or two shares, I can remember in some level of detail every beer I sample.

Tony:
What happened at those one or two?

Brent Topa:
First one was my first share ever. Had no idea what I was walking into. Second one was at night but we started brewery hopping at noon.

Second one I remember most of the beers, but it was still a shitshow. Learned a lot from both.

Tony:
Hah! I can only imagine! Despite loving beer, one of my pet peeves is drunk people. Even if you’re not the one getting totally wasted, how do you know what you’re getting into with the others? ESPECIALLY since they’re open invite… I see visions of political arguments, jokes being misconstrued, sucker punches, and the likes…

Brent Topa:
You have no idea unless you know people there. I also try not to stay the whole time and get there when it starts to avoid a lot of that. Shares often rotate people so an Irish exit is very common. Just gotta read the situation like most things.

Tony:
Man. I don’t know. It still just doesn’t seem like it’s for me. Let’s say it’s how you view it: No drunks, bail if so, no foolishness or BS… Isn’t it just an excuse for tickers to tick more?? I tick because I’m a true Poke-master at heart, and ya gotta catch ’em all. But I’m not going out of my way like that to do it.

Brent Topa:
More or less. Lots of people get excited to share. They want others to try what they have. Maybe it’s bragging, maybe it’s just being nice. But I get to try beers I’ll never find on my own. I get to meet local legends and gain beer knowledge. I get to unload my fridge a little. Maybe feel like a VIP a little too.

Tony:
Fair enough. Since starting this site, I’ve never been to one of these big shares. I’ve had folks over and shared beer with them just like when we get together for team meetings. But never a big, open share with strangers. When I get invited to them, I’m always tempted to go just because I was invited, but the temptation is fleeting once I consider all of the stuff I’ve asked you.

You mentioned being most interested in meeting people. Be honest. Have you ever cultivated a meaningful, lasting relationship with somebody that you met at a big share? Josh and I met for the first time at Backyard Grill. Ultimately we shared some beers, and we’ve become good friends. But this ain’t that. You really have share buddies that you’d lean on in hard times… that you met through big beer shares?

Brent Topa:
I haven’t been sharing long enough or have established anything like that. But I met Keith (IG: @bkmyers22) at that very first share and he’s the center of our Spring group. Great guy, my wife loves him. He’s hooked me up huge in the beer scene and we swap cans all the time.

Tony:
That’s what’s up. In some ways beer is conversation lubrication. When you’re as much of a beer nerd as us, it’s more than that. It’s literally a hobby and common ground. So if both of you stopped drinking beer tomorrow, you think y’all would still be friends?

Brent Topa:
I think so and would hope so. Most of my friends are clustered by hobbies and I’m not a best friend guy, outside of my wife of course. So Keith and I would just find a new hobby.

Tony:
I think that’s pretty normal. I also think it’s pretty cool that you’ve made a friend like that through one of the big bottle shares. I’ve basically been interviewing you this whole time. Not sure if you’ve noticed. You have any questions for me before I hit you with my closer?

Brent Topa:
I’m more of a listener than a talker so I wait till the end. So, being with a bunch of drunks would definitely suck since you respect the craft. Take that away, what would get you to a share?

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Tony:
Uhhh. Less people. Also, not people I don’t know.

As much as I love good beer, I have an airtight schedule. I can only commit time to things that I really value, and even then, sometimes I can’t commit the time to do some of those things. I’ve been trying to get lunch with my guy James In the Radio Simpson from What’s on Tap Radio since like March of 2019, and here we are in February 2020. Stuff keeps coming up, and I keep canceling on him. I feel like a dick even though it’s largely been stuff outside of my control.

Knowing I can only commit a little bit of time to beer, I feel like I make more impact hanging with y’all, doing interviews, or working on the site. I’m also on Untappd, and I have a Pokémon approach to beer, gotta try em all, but that takes a back seat to everything else beer related.

Brent Topa:
That makes sense and aligns with a lot of other people I know. Those people that rotate in and out usually only have a little bit of time then have to bounce. So you do share but not a public way, which is my preference at least half the time. Missing shares is missing Pokémon for me, but I have to get past that with all of my other goals.

Tony:
As it relates to missing out on beer, don’t I have to bring something rare? I’m not an avid trader. And when I travel and mule stuff home, I usually give it all away to my friends like you. I don’t feel like I’d pull up with anything that everybody hadn’t already had before. Could I just pull up and throw $20 into the jar or something? Hah!

Brent Topa:
Lol! Shelfies are perfectly acceptable maybe even your favorite… bombers. Bigger bottles = more people to try.

Even the latest Houston brewery hazy is cool because not everyone gets it. Or maybe they’re excited to try it twice. You just never know.

Tony:
Ok. So I have this weird paradox. I’m shy yet outgoing. Shy if I have my way. Outgoing when I need to turn it on. It’s one of the many reasons why I don’t show my face when it comes to this site. The people that need to know me know me, but other than that, I can go out with my family and be totally anonymous as long as I’m not wearing my Beer Chronicle hat. I’ve even been able to secret shop some beer spots and get paid to drink beer because of my anonymity. So how does somebody that’s an introvert like me convince themselves to go to something like this?

Brent Topa:
Go with somebody you know, at least digitally. The people there will want to meet you, share beers, and try yours. 1000 ways to start a conversation. Don’t stay longer than you want. Admit you’ve never done this before. Ask questions. It’s all about learning and community.


Here’s a somewhat random end-note, but I wonder if we’ll ever stop calling them bottle shares since most beer is in cans now. If you’ve ever wondered why most breweries are switching to cans, there are many reasons, but one is quality. Cans protect beer better. Here are 4 lies you may have been told about skunked beer, and some of them has to do with bottles.

Pick a side? Beers to you, Houston.

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Beer Chronicle Team
beerchronicle@gmail.com
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