Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Art of the Bottle Share

Line 'em up!
If you know me, you are probably aware that I very much enjoy arranging bottle share events. Heck, you've probably been to a few that I've co-hosted. If you don't know me, you might be saying to yourself, "What in the Sam Hill is a bottle share?" If that's the case, I'll do my best to clue you in.

I attended my very first bottle share in Portland more than a year ago. Really? Has it been that long? It was arranged by my friend Chris who is the master of the bottle share. I guess you could call him my Bottle Share Sensei. Chris operates by the Twitter handle @PDXbottleshare.

That first bottle share had a small turnout. I think it was a total of five guys and my wife (my trusty DD), sitting outside in the rain in front of a local brew pub. Still, it was a great time and the start of something awesome. I had some fantastic, rare, hard to find beers and I was hooked. Let the bottle share madness begin!

The idea is simple: A number of craft beer enthusiasts get together and bring along a bottle (or two) of their favorite beer. The bottles get opened and everyone shares! It's the best way I know to sample beers that you've always wanted to try or brews you've never heard of before. All have a good time and share their thoughts (or not) about the great beer they're drinking. It's a win for everybody!

Since that day, I've attended and helped arrange a number of very successful and fun bottle shares at various taprooms throughout the greater Portland area, and there's more to come! But perhaps you'd like to set up your own bottle share? Well, I have some tips and advice, if that's what you're looking for! Sorry, this advice is going to be very Portland, Oregon specific, since liquor laws are widely different all over everywhere!

Fun times for one and all!
1) Pick an appropriate venue. There are lots of brew pubs and taprooms in Portland. If you're a beer lover, you probably have your favorite. Strike up a conversation with the owner or manager and see if they have any interest in hosting your event. From my experience, some are and some just aren't, and they aren't usually shy about letting you know one way or the other. Of course, there's always your own home, if you've got the room and your neighbors aren't opposed to parties.

2) Advertise your event. I use social media and word of mouth. Twitter and Reddit are good places to get your message out there. If you're using Twitter, make sure you understand how to use hashtags "#" appropriately. The brew pub and taproom may also like to advertise the event on their own website or with flyers and posters. Expect a big crowd, if they do!

3) Be inclusive, not exclusive. If you know me, I don't have to tell you what I think about beer snobbery. For those unfamiliar...I don't like beer snobs. Beer is an inclusive, everyman (and everywoman) drink. It's meant to be joyfully shared. If you're a snotty, know-it-all snob, get a life and please don't invite me to your bottle share. I'm sure it won't be any fun anyway. If you graciously involve and include beer lovers of all levels--from newbies to master brewers--you'll be a good ambassador for our favorite beverage, you'll also make a lot of friends!

4) Be a good host. If you're the host of a party, you have to work the room and make everyone feel welcome. I'll admit that I'm a social clod. Luckily, I have a secret weapon--my wife. She's gregarious and friendly and always makes her dolt of a husband look good. Whether you're good with social situations or you know someone else who is, it's important that your guests know that you appreciate them taking the time to make your event a success!

Great friends sharing good beer!
5) Fill the bellies. Make sure your guests have plenty of snacks and water. Honestly, I've found that a few bowls of pretzels, chips and nuts are the most appreciated snacks you can serve. Cheap and easy, but if people are drinking a lot of beer, they need to be fed and watered.

6) Make it a short time frame. Trust me on this one. Set a start and FINISH time for your bottle share, and keep it short. Two hours is plenty of time.

7) Obey the OLCC rules. Basically, if you are having your share at a pub or taproom, a licensed OLCC server must open all of the bottles. After that, anyone can pour from any open bottle. I also wouldn't recommend having regular events at your private home. You don't want to get tagged as a speakeasy, or anything like that.

8) Make sure your guests understand bottle share etiquette. This seems like a no-brainer, but it needs to be put out there. Everyone should take a teeny, tiny taste from each bottle, just to make sure everyone gets some. There's nothing worse than having someone unthinkingly pour himself a full glass of the most popular brew. No bogarts, please!

9) TIP! If you have a professional beer server popping the caps on your bottles, please tip generously! Most bartenders live off their tips. If they spent two hours helping you make your event a success, make sure they get something for their time.

That's it! I'm sure I'm forgetting something important. If you're hosting a bottle share, and have questions, drop me an email or make a comment below. I'll be happy to help!


  1. Nice write up! If my first bottle share last weekend was any indication, you all have this down. Hope to make more in the future.

  2. Thanks, Mike! I need to find a good spot for April...and May...and... ;-)

  3. I know the westside may not be a great choice, but keep us in mind.

    1. I think your place would be a great spot when the weather is nice, with the door wide open! Let's set something up! :-)

    2. Sounds we have a window of about 2 weeks in July :) Definitely would be a great time.

    3. Perfect! Let's do it! Email me the dates and times that work best for you: