blogpost
Bottle Share Etiquette: A Beginner's Guide
Produced by Mark Iafrate with help from the BEX Community

What is a bottle share?
A bottle share is a gathering of individuals where each person brings beer to open and share with other attendees. These events can be spontaneous or planned weeks in advance. They range in size from a few close friends to large gatherings of people, sometime strangers. The idea is the same - to share good beer with good people.

How much beer should I bring?
Every attendee brings at least a bottle of good beer to share with others. Sometimes people may bring 2, 6 or even a dozen bottles depending on the event and number of people attending. It's all about what you're willing to provide, but just remember, be respectful and don't over indulge if you only brought single 12 ounce beer.

One way to hedge your bet is bring a couple of "extras" just in case. Just because you brought 4 beers does not mean you need to open all 4. If you are going to go that route it's probably best to keep them in a cooler and pull them out when you are ready to open.  

How much beer can I expect to try?
Since bottles are being shared with multiple people, expect to be sampling small amounts of a wide variety of beer. These won't be full pours! Sometimes you'll get 1 ounce of a beer, although it's common to get around 2 to 4 ounces depending on the size of the beer and number of people at the event. However keep in mind, small 4 ounce pours add up! Additionally, many of the beers you'll be drinking are high gravity (higher ABV), so make sure to stay hydrated and watch your intake.

What's the etiquette for opening or trying beers?
At smaller events with fewer people (and beers), it's common to designate a set order of when specific bottles will be opened; however, at larger events it's more about what people are in the mood to open. One safe bet is to take social ques from whoever is running the share and other guests. In general, the rules are simple:

  • If you brought it, feel free to open it at any time.
  • If you didn't bring it, don't open it and wait for the owner to do so.
  • If it's sitting out in the open, it's usually free game to sample, but be respectful of your pour size (especially if it's a smaller bottle or you already had some).

Do I have to bring a "rare" beer to attend?
Not at all! Many people bring rare, limited, aged, or special release beers because it's more likely other people have not tried them. Many of the beers you try may fall into that category, but it's also very common for people to bring easily accessible new or seasonal beers that were just released.

Another option is to bring a beer you traded for or from outside the local distribution area since there is a higher probability that people will not have tried it yet. The idea is to make sure you bring a quality beer (and make sure it's fresh if it's something that doesn't age well).

If you're in doubt, check with the person hosting to see what you may want to bring - every share is unique!

Do I need to bring my own glassware?
This varies from event to event, but it's usually good etiquette to ask the event coordinator. When in doubt, bringing your own tasting glass is a good idea.

What about food?
This completely varies from event to event. Sometimes a host will provide food for the people attending, other times it's "bring your own" or food may be available for purchase. When in doubt, ask, or at least have a good meal before you arrive.

Can I bring my homebrew?
Yes! It's not uncommon for people to bring home brewed beer to try and bottle shares.

In Closing
Bottle shares are meant to be a fun way to share good beer with good people. It's about experiencing something new and allowing other people to try beers they may never have experienced otherwise. In the end, like most things in life, being kind and showing respect are the most important things. Have fun, and drink responsibly!

Contact Information
Mark Iafrate mark@thebeerexchange.io

@BeerExchangeApp
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