I’ll pretend that the last couple months of not posting is because of a chase. I’ll pretend that I did not forget to post or get bogged down with the insane amount of letter writing and checking off boxes I do during my one year as department chair. I’ll pretend all of that as excuse. And I’ll pretend that I’m chasing a beer: Avery Rumpkin. For most people, this is not too difficult a beer to obtain. Rumpkin has made its way to Lexington a few times. It has 305 reviews on RateBeer. I’m not typically excited about pumpkin beers, barrel aged or not. But I’ve been chasing this beer for some time.
Overall, I’m pretty good with a beer chase. I obtain beers that I am very clueless to how I got them. Sometimes, when a beer hits and I miss it, it still comes around at some point (a point at which I buy it). Take these two beers, for example, which arrived via a trade last Friday:
I consider these two Hill Farmstead beers somewhat whale-like since they are not in any kind of distribution and it takes awhile to get to the isolated brewery to purchase them. I have never been to Vermont, so someone has to go there and buy these beers. And now I have them. I have them with minimal if any chase.
For a year or so,I waited patiently for this $10.50 bottle of Pirate Bomb to make it to a shelf near me, and I scooped it up one Friday afternoon on my way home for work. I waited a long time for this bottle of Stickee Monkee to be offered up. Then, somewhere, it was offered. Chase ended.
A very generous Angelo sent me this Jester King, a beer long ago I gave up chasing under the impression that I would never taste it. Chase ended.
But Rumpkin, alas, eludes me. For the last few weeks, I have almost had it, but then not had it. I have seen it available, and then I’ve missed it. A friend sees that it might be in Frankfort, goes to get it for me, it’s not there. People are now chasing for me! Rumpkin became a chase that I, for some reason, become obsessed with. The mere chase overcame me more than the idea of a barrel aged pumpkin beer. As a final, desperate move to get Rumpkin, on the way to work this morning, I stopped at Good Foods and Unbridled Spirit to see if they had any Rumpkin, thinking that they are not on the average beer nerd’s radar. I knew, in my gut, that Rumpkin was sitting on a shelf at one of these two places because everyday shoppers at Good Foods or Unbridle Spirit don’t know beer and had passed it by. Neither store had Rumpkin.
There are different kinds of chases. Modern Times, an off the shelf L.A. beer, eluded me for a long time. Modern Times is not rare, but it takes the right mix of kairos for someone in Southern California to want to buy some Modern Times to ship to Kentucky, and for that same person to want something from where I live. This kind of timeliness or equilibrium is not easy to achieve. Trading is a delicate balance of desire. Even shelf beers can be difficult to obtain and worthy of a chase. I did, though, manage to acquire some nice Modern Times beers recently thanks to Justin. Chase ended.
But no Rumpkin. It will go on tap at The Beer Trappe on Halloween….but I am solo parenting that night and taking the kids out to fill their bellies on trash, er, candy. So, I cannot go to The Beer Trappe to have it either. A chase does not have to end in fulfillment for it to be worthwhile, and yet, as I chased and chased this expensive 12 ounce beer, I felt that I needed that fulfillment, that satisfaction of acquiring, of winning, of not losing out to the forces of scarcity and nerd behavior.
And then, suddenly, as I was writing this, I went to check RateBeer to see (for a paragraph above) how many people had rated Rumpkin. Is Rumpkin rare, I wondered. Does it have few or many ratings? It turns out, as I noted, that the beer has been rated 305 times. And it turns out, I discovered, that I, too, had rated it - earlier this year. One of those 305 ratings was mine! Chase? I had found this beer in April!
I was not on a chase for a beer after all. I was on a simple chase to chase. I had forgotten my rating, and I had forgotten the beer, but even more so, I had forgotten myself by chasing for the sake of chasing. You would think that I was relieved to have discovered a once successful chase. No. I was upset. Now there could be no resolution to the chase. I’ve had this beer already, it turns out.
Chasing is how my beer days progress. I chase. Can I get that? When will that arrive? Is that going to be distributed here? What time will it arrive? The chase never ends, it seems, even when I have forgotten that I already hunted this beer some time ago and got it. Even accomplishment means little, in the end, when we beer chase.