A BEER SNOB'S Guide to the B.A.R. Beer Gift Exchange

On Thursday nights, I often run in a group event called BAR = Beer Appreciation Run. It's usually 5-7 miles of running in the woods, in the dark, in a group. Then afterwards we hang out at Shelter #14 and drink beer.

A few weeks ago, things got even better. They told me on the week before Christmas they do a beer gift exchange. I was definitely in! But this being my first time, I made a few rookie mistakes. So, as a public service announcement, here are three tips on what to do at your first Trail Nerds BAR Holiday Beer gift exchange, so your learning curve doesn't have to be as steep as mine.

Here's what I did. I created a mixed six-pack with two AWESOME beers, two really good beers and two not so good beers. Then I wrapped the six-pack in some festive paper. I was particularly proud of the way I tied the ribbon through the handle of the six-pack carton.

But here's the way it played out. Out of the almost 20 participants, exactly two had bothered with wrapping paper. Most were simply placed in multiple plastic sacks so you couldn't see what was inside. One guy wrapped his in a sweatshirt, but he did make it pretty clear that he needed the sweatshirt back. Nicely wrapped packages were picked close to the end. I think there was a common distrust among the group that the better the packaging, the worse the beer.

1. KEEP THE WRAPPING SIMPLE > I'm thinking plain brown, paper bag next year. Basic enough to fit in, yet unique enough to stand out in the sea of white plastic. The runner who picked my six-pack pulled out the Funky Pumpkin first and that killed anyone else from wanting to steal it. That's why I recommend you...

2. GO WITH A STRAIGHT SIX PACK > Cans over bottles, and the hoppier, the better with this group. When it was my turn to pick, I opted to steal a six pack of HopNosh from a guy, then a few rounds later somebody stole it from me. Since he was the third owner, no one else could steal from him, so he immediately opened it and started drinking it. And he offered me one of the cans. Classy move! Thanks HopNosh stealing guy. Instead of stealing again, I went to the unopened bags and drew a six-pack of Blue Moon Gingerbread Spice Ale. How do I be polite about this? It would not have been my first pick. I would call it wimpy beer. And just as social validation, nobody was interested in stealing it from me. See my video about a simple solution for what to do with crappy beer. After all the "unwrapping" and stealing were over, a fellow runner did ask about my beer. I offered him one and he traded me with one of his. Then another did the same. Which is why next time, I'll...

3. TRADE BEERS AT THE END > Treat it like kids with halloween candy. That's the beauty of giving a full six pack of the same. Everybody can create their own sampler pack through trading instead of the gift giver creating the mix.

Fantastic time! Fun group! And next time, I'll know better what to do.