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When I open a cooler and see a bottle of Feather Edge IPA by Cold Harbor Brewing, I’ll need to open it.




Navigating a cooler
Don’t take the last brew

08/15/18



By Jeff Mucciarone
food@hippopress.com
 
I was at a cookout earlier this summer and as I peered inside the cooler I spotted a couple very hard-to-find brews. These were brews that someone waited in line for, perhaps for several hours. I wanted them immediately. 
But I chickened out. 
I had too many questions. Were those beers for me? While I’d like to think so, I feared they weren’t. Did the giver of this special beer want to share with others? Did he or she want to offer samples to multiple people? Did this person even understand the significance of the beer in question? 
Am I overthinking this? Yes, I am. But the craft beer boom has made grabbing a beer from the cooler a bit more complicated. If I open a cooler and see it’s full of Harpoon IPA, Budweiser or really any other brew you don’t have to wait in line for, I dive in without hesitation. But if the cooler is full of a variety of craft beers in growlers, single bottles or canned four-packs, some of which may be quite coveted, well, it’s not as simple. 
To be clear, I’m a firm believer that if it’s in the cooler it’s up for grabs, but no one wants to be the guy who grabs that one Heady Topper someone had given to the host while you were using the bathroom. That’s what I’m afraid of. I know, it’s a heavy burden. 
Do I need to get over it? Yes. Maybe, together, we can get through this. 
Here are some guiding principles to help you through these types of stressful situations life throws at you.
What are other people drinking? Seems basic, right? If you’re worried about taking that last can of Bissell Brothers, take a peek around the deck or the yard. If you see several people with a Bissell Brothers brew in hand, it’s time to dive in. But if you don’t see others drinking it, that might be a clue. 
It’s just beer In the age of craft beer, that can be difficult to remember. No matter how good a beer is, it’s still just a beer. This is not a rare Bordeaux that has been aged for two decades. It’s beer. What beer you choose will not make or break the party. And taking a coveted beer from the cooler will not or at least should not impact others’ impression of you. Despite the craft beer boom, most people still just don’t care that much. 
Someone else will take it Rest assured, if you don’t grab that Heady Topper, someone else will. You can’t expect others to overthink this scenario as much as I am. 
Ask the host Use your judgment here, as party hosts can be busy, but it’s not a bad idea to have a quick chat with the host. “Hey, I saw there’s some great stuff from Trillium Brewing in the cooler. I’d love to try it but I wanted to make sure that wasn’t a present.” Look, a cookout isn’t a job interview, but taking a moment to ask shows you’re a considerate person who thinks of others. So really, I’m not just offering you beer, I’m offering you life skills. 
Bring some beer You don’t have to show up with a rare craft brew, but if you were planning on drinking a few beers at a party, it’s a solid idea to show up with a four-pack or a six-pack. I know, this is basic, but it’s a lot easier to justify taking that “special” craft beer if you’ve made your own contribution to the cooler. 
Chill out Take the beer and enjoy. 
Jeff Mucciarone is a senior account executive with Montagne Communications, where he provides communications support to the New Hampshire wine and spirits industry. 





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