Take One Down… Many Bottles on Beer Blogger's Wall
Craft beer blogger and connoisseur Eric Strader tells Edible Michiana about the bottles in his collection, what he keeps in the fridge and the best beer he’s ever had.
Tell us about your beer collection.
I started trading beer about six or seven years ago. And as my friends and I traveled farther and farther around the country, I started collecting bottles that were more cellar-able (being high-gravity, higher alcohol content, higher malt content—imperial stouts, barleywines, things like that). I just started putting them in boxes and putting them in the back of the basement, and it’s grown over time. Every once in a while I discover something I had forgotten about, so that’s kind of fun.
How many beers do you currently have on hand?
I don’t really know. I started off being very organized with spreadsheets and a dating system, but it became hard to keep track of it all. It’s big enough that once in a while I lose a specific bottle.
What beers do you always keep on hand?
I always have a Bell’s product on hand. As a potter, I make mugs for a few breweries, including Bell’s, and I get a few beers as a perk. When I think about what I actually have in my fridge right now, I have Bell’s Mars Double IPA, Two Hearted Ale and Batch 3000 Barleywine and Founders Dark Penance Imperial Black IPA and Mosaic Promise IPA.
What is your favorite beer?
Beer is such a situational thing for me. I generally keep five or six different styles in my fridge because at any given time, with specific people, with different temperatures or foods, I might choose a different beer. Generally, my favorite beer is the one in front of me.
What are you most excited about in your beer collection?
Goose Island’s 2010 Rare Bourbon County Stout. It was barrel aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels for two years. I’ve had the opportunity to drink it about three different times, and it’s probably the best beer that I’ve had. A good number of my bottles are barrel aged.
Also, my Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale from the early 1990s. I have two bottles from 1992, two from 1993 and four from 1994. They are from around the time that I discovered Bell’s—and craft beer. At that time, for my palate a good beer was probably a Molson or a Moosehead, so that was my first Bell’s beer. I recently acquired the bottles from a friend who was a brewer at Bell’s. It’s the oldest beer I have.
What is your favorite style of beer?
I really like a good, juicy, resinous, dank IPA. I’m not a fan of Double IPAs as much since the malt tends to muddy up the hop profile, but there have been some good ones. I love the fruity, floral, piney IPAs.
I also like the really dark, higher-alcohol imperial stouts and Russian imperial stouts, probably because you can age them and the flavors are so complex.
What will you be drinking around the holidays?
I’m likely to open up a Russian imperial stout or a barrel-aged barleywine. I might be drinking some of a vintage sour that I received from Upland brewery. Or one of my favorite beers, Bell’s Expedition Stout. I could see myself opening a bottle of that.