Back when I could freely do road trips from Alberta into the western U.S., I would often stop at Trader Joe’s, a so-called “national chain of neighbourhood grocery stores.” Among other things, I would pick up a couple of bottles of Two-Buck Chuck ($2 red wine) and a few packages of freeze-dried raspberries, for my backcountry oatmeal.
But I was most enamoured by Trader Joe’s policy of letting customers mix and match craft beers. I could fill a little cardboard six-pack carrier with individual bottles or cans. That allowed me, while travelling through a new city, to sample a diversity of local brews with a single purchase. Thus was born my joy of drinking “solo”.
While most beer vendors sell some individual cans (usually 16 ounces) and bottles (usually 22-ounce bombers), it’s rare that one can curate a selection without buying a lot of brews. And there’s nothing worse than buying a six pack and discovering, on the first sip, you don’t like it.
So I was delighted, when I started ordering pandemic grocery deliveries from SPUD, that I could a) include liquor and b) choose from a lot of individual beer cans. Indeed, most of the 80-some, primarily local beers that SPUD offers are available only in individual, 473-millilitre/16.5-ounce cans. Sure, they cost a little more individually—ranging from about $4 to $5 plus—but that’s still a lot cheaper than ye old crapshoot of a four- or six-packer. And the selection is pretty darn good, including top local brewers like Annex, Cold Garden, Blindman, Dandy, Cabin and Banded Peak.
While I’ve tasted a lot of Calgary-area craft beers, there are simply too many available to keep up with. So it’s nice that through SPUD, I can fill in some gaps without filling my fridge.
The only downside to ordering online beer is I have to stick around home for up to 12 hours on my delivery day, just so I can show proof that I’m 18 years or older. In my case, much older. But at least I can cry in a variety of beers.