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Delirium TremensBargain Bin Bounty

I am no cheapskate, not by any means, but I also tend to lack money. This can sometimes pose a dilemma such as: should I buy food or beer? It’s that kind of problem that can ruin a guy’s day as it has mine, oh, so many times. It’s those sad moments that can drag you past row upon row of fresh hops and new ideas to a place some folk fear to roam; I speak of the bargain bin. The sad back corner of your local liquor store where many of the uppity, snobbish types fear to glance at, lest they be blackballed from the next hoity-toity wine and cheese soiree. Some believe that nothing of value could come from such a place. They imagine that it must be filled with the swill even the lowest oaf would not touch to his lips. Ah, but this is not so. The fun fact of the bargain bin is that its primary use is to rid the store of slow moving items. Products that have been on the rack for too long or no one seems to buy in that particular area usually get moved to the bargain bin at a considerable markdown. If you think about what moves the fastest through your local store, I am sure you will find that the best sellers are also the worst beers. The big pissy beers with no personality or flavor fly off the shelves, leaving the good beers sitting alone, waiting for you. If you don’t come soon, some of those lovelies will end up in the bin. Of course, you may worry that these beers are past their prime, and most likely they are, but many times I have found a few lucky bottles that got to my cellar in time and survived. Why, just the other day I landed several bottles of a chocolate bock that had been taken off the shelf. These were 750 ml bottles that once went for fourteen bucks, now dropped to two dollars. Needless to say, I bought them all. Even if they were past prime, they would still be good. I got lucky, they were not fouled in any way and are resting nicely in my cellar. This is a wonderful beer, but in the part of suburban Minneapolis that I am in now they just didn’t sell.

The same goes for wines. I love my little cellar... it’s so wonderful to poke my head in and see who is ready to go. However, I get very sad indeed when there is not much to choose from. That is when the bin comes in. You can regularly find amazing deals on things that the average wine drinker doesn’t want to take a risk on. I recently came across eight bottles of really good Shiraz that I would not normally have purchased. I bought one for three dollars, tried it, went back the next day and bought the rest. I would have never tried that wine before, but now I will buy it again at its normal, higher price. By the way, I am an average wine drinker. Beer and whiskey are more of my thing, but I would never snub good wine and getting a deal on it is even better.

If you have never checked your bargain bins before you really should. Many larger stores will also have a hard liquor bin. Many lesser known but truly wonderful boozes get thrown into these spots for liquidation. Usually the odd, foreign liquor ends up here, spirits you have never seen, flavored with things you’ve never heard of, which can be fun to buy anyway... hell, as long as they’re marked down, why not? The great part is when you find a really nice bottle of tequila or vodka that you would have simply avoided at its full price. Whiskeys and rums rarely land in the bins but vodka and tequila are regulars, probably due to the fact that many people can’t really tell the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff so they go with name recognition. That is the area I live in and it suits me just fine. Go ahead and drink your rotgut and pseudo-lager rice experiment. Stay away from the shiny frightening bottles in the back of the building. Avoid paying the extra couple of dollars for a six pack of beer. Then, one day, when you are too low on cash to even buy your regular barely malted, hardly hopped water replacement, go to the bargain bin. Reach in, grab something scary and new, take it home, pour it in a glass, realize that there is more to alcohol than just getting wasted and start spending the extra couple bucks. That’s how it happened with me so many years ago and I have never gone back.

--Joe Bjorklund