Thursday, June 2, 2011

Beer For Food Bartering

On a regular basis people who sample my beers will ask 'can you sell this?' and I have to concede that, no, you can't sell homebrew.  Even if I wanted to, it's against the law to commercially produce and market beer to the public without a license. Actually, several licenses from local, state and federal authorities. Authorities that make a sincere effort to prevent most people from doing as they please.
But for me, more importantly is that I don't want a job as a brewer, it's too much work and besides, it's not about making money. I'm content to keep my brewing at the level of hobby. To brew for the enjoyment of the process and take pleasure in the results of my efforts. To share with family and friends and gain the satisfaction of seeing the delight that crosses their surprised faces when they ask 'Is this really home made?' But man does not live on beer bread alone. A certain quantity of protein is needed in his diet to keep him in the upright position and fully functioning. This brings me to my most recent endeavour, trading homebrew for food. Not just trading but trading locally. I like the idea of keeping within the local economy and doing my small part to create a common cause that brings the community together. Think sustainable.

The question then becomes, where can I find these community minded people that produce local food and also would be willing to trade for homemade beer. Oh yeah, the farmers market a few blocks up the street.

Local food to be had

I figured hey, these are hard working people who can appreciate a well made and hand crafted food product. Not to mention, we share similar passions, but where I'm pulled to brew beer they venture just as enthusiastically in a different direction. They may be producing honey from their own hives in the back yard or raising grass fed beef, growing organic vegetables on a few acres near their home. How about fresh fish caught that morning from the bay that I can see from the market parking lot, talk about local. If this trading plan were to work out, the list of possibilities for food is endless, sausage, eggs, chicken, beef, veggies of all kinds, jams, nuts.

My plan was simple, bottle up a variety of ales from my kegerator. Fill up a cooler with said beer and wander through the booths on Saturday. I'd size up the vendors and their product for a good match to trade and offer them a sample beer or two to take home to try out. Then, follow up the next week to see if they have any interest. They did.

At this point in time I have a weekly trade going on with the producers of a selection of excellent small batch cheeses produced at a family farmstead  that has been in the dairy business for generations. These artisan cheeses are by far some of the best I've had. This family business that started as a cheese making hobby a couple of years ago now produces one to two hundred pounds of cheese a week.

The other vendor that I trade with has fresh fish out of Santa Cruz. This is a company that only sells at farmers markets and specializes in sustainable seafood focusing mostly on line-caught local species. They also have some exotics like Ahi which I had last week which I rolled in sesame seeds and pan seared to lay over rice, yum!

I've still got my feelers out for some red meat but it's just a matter of time. Besides the meat, I was thinking that trading for honey might be a good match. I could then use this local honey to brew a honey ale of some sort. A little icing on the cake so to speak, icing is always nice. Then I could trade the honey beer back to the honey vendor to show them how their product can be utilized in my product. Ooh, a win, win, win.

Suffice to say that there are no limits to how far this could go to supplement my diet with needed protein, without having to sell beer to make money in order to buy food.

If you're in the habit of producing more beer than you can consume, like me, I would recommend you form your own food connections in your area as well, I would encourage it. The only requirement is quality homebrew. Everyone likes good beer and food.

Do you trade beer for food? Tell us about it in the comment section below. Let's help each other get back to the basics of local bartering for a healthy community.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Hello from your friends in Vancouver. How about trading some beer for some puzzle? People like the "tooth and nail" puzzle you gave me so many years ago. Went to San Francisco several weeks ago and came back with three new puzzles. Now I am adapting the mechanisms to my money fund raising boxes. Not enough hours in the day. Hello to Susan. Go Canucks Go! Wayne Helfrich.

Edward said...

Genius, truly! Can't wait to try it out! Id love to put out some beer and get milk/cream in trade!

Unknown said...

I am doing self contained living trades in several areas and would love to do a beer/food/other trade with you. Currently, I am preparing my food forest which should produce seasonal veggies and fruits year round. I will have tradeables in late Spring onward. I also have a line of hand crafted soaps and other herbal bath items. Currently, I am working on solar stuff: outdoor oven, heating unit (I'm using them for studio work space and greenhouse), also putting together some "The Lights Went Out" Ready Kits.

My goal is to do trade on all levels and am going to hit up the local mom and pop gas station to see what kind of barter I can do with them. I bet they'd like your beer! Linda

Unknown said...

Just realized that it didn't give a way for you to contact me. Let's see if this fixes it. Linda

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