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What is a Bottle Share, and Why You Should Care

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What is a Bottle Share?

It sounds just like it is…an event where multiple people share bottles. But there’s a lot more to the experience that you might not realize.

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I didn’t start going to “official” bottle shares until only a year or two ago. Before that, I didn’t associate the term with what I was doing, and I never really even asked what is a bottle share until recently.

It was always more like “Hey, you have a bunch of beer. I have a bunch of beer. Let’s fix that.” And away we went.

Shares can be as small as a few guys getting together at someone’s house to a huge event at a local venue with dozens of people and hundreds of cans.

Regardless of the size, the idea is for fans of craft beer to get together, share bottles, and grow the passion that is the craft beer community.

So, how do these big events work?

Typically, you find out about them through word of mouth, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, or just people you know in the industry. Bottle shares are by no means an exclusive or “who you know” type of thing. But they aren’t aggressively advertised as you may expect. You kind of just stumble into them. If you become somewhat of a regular, people will start inviting you in the future.

The cost of entry to a share is whatever you bring in your cooler. No, don’t be that guy that brings macro beers, but shelfies are totally acceptable.

How many and what type of bottles you bring are entirely up to you.

For larger shares, I might bring more than the 2-3 I would bring to go to a buddy’s house. Bombers and crowlers are great since they give more people a chance to try what you’ve brought, but tallboys and singles are just as popular.

I’ve been to shares at all types of locations. Houses, bars, breweries…parking lots too (…yikes).

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Pop-up shares are my favorite because they’re never planned, even though most of us are always rolling with a cooler wherever we go. There are many places around Houston that are open to shares and welcome the boost in business, but there are also plenty that aren’t set up for them.

If you do end up at a share at a business, be sure to buy something while you’re there. Don’t be that person.

My overall experience with sharing has been extremely positive. It’s one of my favorite parts of the craft beer scene and something I look forward to any time a new event pops up.

But, like anything, there are pros and cons to bottle shares.

Let’s start with the good stuff

Bottle shares are the best opportunity to try new beers. It’s like showing up to a beer bar with endless flights. People bring beers from outside Houston, Texas, or even the country. These are beers that you likely can’t get on your own or don’t know how to (yet!)

If you’re a data nerd like me, it’s a huge chance to grow your beer list too.

You also get to meet great people. That’s how I’ve met a lot of my beer friends. We get together, swap beers and stories, and enjoy the best industry in the world. I’m constantly building my network and looking to partner with other beer connoisseurs to grow the spirit of craft beer.

Oftentimes, we end up trading later and we both get to try new beers outside of the share life.

If you’re a social media person, shares are a killer way to hone your photography skills and work on that perfect shot. Whether it’s a single bottle or a killshot picture, there are a plenty of opportunities to grab a great portrait.

Finally, homebrewers are increasing their presence at bottle shares because it gives a larger audience to sample their beers. Since home brews are limited in volume, bottle shares are the ideal place to catch the latest homebrewed beer.

So, what are the downsides?

Well, for starters, shares can be a LOT of beer. If it’s your first one, you might be overwhelmed. That’s why you should ALWAYS plan ahead with a DD, regardless of your experience.

At the same time, you might feel like you don’t have any beers that are good enough for a share. Those bigger shares can bring some serious beers and you might not feel worthy.

Shares can be expensive too, specifically if you’re trying to bring some real bangers in the bottle department. Finally, you might not get to try everything, even if you’re there from the first bottle pop. There’s a lot of people and a lot of beer, so you might miss something you really wanted, especially trying to record everything digitally.

Despite what may seem like downsides, I LOVE SHARES.

I get so pumped about them that I can barely contain myself. Anyways, enough about me…

If you’re looking to get into shares…

The first step is to ask around. If you don’t know anyone that loves awesome beer like us, there are plenty of Facebook groups in Houston that are looking for people like you.

Don’t worry about whether the beer in your fridge is good enough or not. As long as it’s not super macro, you’re good to go. There are plenty of shelfies that a lot of us have missed. Big beers are especially great for shares. Even I can’t drink an entire 750 by myself without the next day being awful.

Be social. Interact. Ask about the beers.

Ask where the beers came from. Take pics too! If not for you, tag others. They’ll appreciate it. I guarantee it.

If you find something local that you like, buy it from Hop Drop and save 10% using this link and our code “BEERCHRONICLE” at checkout.

Take notes too, if you’re into that kind of thing. Pictures are great for memory. Notes are better.

A great first impression would be to work the room with a bottle that you brought and share it with as many people as possible. It makes the share event much more relaxed and you get to meet a lot of great people!

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.

Finally, have a good time! Shares have a ton of benefits and they are definitely worth your time. Aside from the beer, it’s a great time to meet people just like you that love beer and want to learn more about it. What’s better than that?


Brent is originally from Ohio but has been in Houston for over 10 years. As an Aggie, musician, animal advocate, and Lego collector, he always has something going on. If you have an imperial stout, come find him. He’ll want to add it to his insatiable beer spreadsheet.

 


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Beer Chronicle Team
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