Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rare beer becoming a target for theft

Rare beerThe huge underground market for rare craft beers is quickly becoming more visible. And in the case of Avery Brewing Company, a local leader in the production of rare beers, some of their beer had been disappearing until recently when an arrest was made of a former employee who is now charged with the alleged theft of thousands of dollars worth of rare beers and seen selling some of that on eBay.

Individual bottles of craft beer has become quite the commodity. Some individual bottles becoming as rare as some bottles of wine and selling for upwards of $300 per bottle in some cases.

Craft beer enthusiasts know that some small batch and limited edition beers are worth collecting and there is a huge secondary market for many of these rare beers. Beer trading and selling is nothing new, but when these beers become the target of theft and the source of big money - it then becomes a bigger issue.

9 News in Denver recently aired a story about a former Avery Brewing Company employee who allegedly stole thousands of dollars of rare beer from the Boulder brewing company. Police found hundreds of bottles of rare beers in the suspects home in Fort Collins and even found listings of some of that beer being sold on eBay.

For years, craft beer enthusiasts have been known to stockpile rare beers. One beer lover, the late Danny Williams from Boulder, even had an entire gold-mine cave dedicated to storing rare and vintage craft beers.

Beer fans know that some limited edition beers are extremely popular here in America. Rare beer fest tickets sell out in a matter of minutes these days. Waiting lines for limited edition or small batch beer releases are becoming commonplace all across the country. Some rare beers even have a "cult-like" following like Westvleteren XII, Russian River's Pliny the Younger, Three Floyds Dark Lord, Founder's KBS and The Bruery's Black Tuesday. Those lucky enough to get a hold of these rare beers can ask for a lot of money for a single bottle. Beer trading is becoming more and more popular and the internet has been the place for the swapping and selling of these beers. posted an article about "The Underworld of Beer Trading" back in 2010. Sites like BeerAdvocate and RateBeer have become a gathering place for people who are looking to trade for rare bottles of beer.

Shipping beer through the US Postal Service is illegal unless you are a licensed distributor, yet it happens all the time between beer traders.

As the perceived value of limited edition beers continue to rise, the occurrences of theft and underground selling will continue to rise. What do you do to safeguard your precious collection of rare beers? Some have started storing their rare beers and wines in offsite secured cellars. Businesses such as Wine Storage of Denver offer secure and temperature controlled storage lockers for collectors' private stashes. This might be a good idea in this age of coveting rare and valuable bottles of craft beer.

Related articles:
- Inaugural Denver Rare Beer Tasting. (2009)
- New Belgium Brewing embraces sour notes.
- Prognosticating Colorado Craft Beer for 2013.

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