Although it is a term used in common law, quid pro quo is probably most well known from the scene in Silence of the Lambs. There is something unnerving about a psychopath speaking Latin. It’s also a term that has never really stuck in English like some other Latin phrases like per se, de facto, status quo, Et cetera (see what I did there). So after spending two weeks sitting on a jury a lot of legalese starting running through my head and I decided to combine these experiences with craft beer for this write up. Criminal Justice degree – don’t fail me now!
“This for that” is the most basic meaning of quid pro quo. Something for something, but it’s not just anything. More specifically it’s something of equal value, which is the key. These days it easy, we all agree that money is the medium of exchange. We trade goods and services for money. Carrying around a twenty dollar bill is much easier than hauling around a bunch of chickens to trade for a sheep and then you have to hope that the other party is willing to trade for what you have. They say money is the root of all evil but it has sure made things a hell of a lot easier.
Since this is a beer blog I am sure you see where this is going by now, I’m talking about beer trading. Admittedly I do not do a lot of trading, but, I have experienced the normal transactions; beer for beer, beer for money, beer for nothing. This isn’t a new concept as beer has always been a form of currency. I am willing to bet that everyone reading this has been offered beer and pizza to help someone move. Any capable mechanic has worked on a car for a case of beer. I don’t see how you could trust anyone who wouldn’t take beer as payment, it’s inhuman! I have even received a beer for this blog, but I am positive that counts as fraud. I may have even traded an appropriately named Pie Thief from Wren House to be on a podcast and that’s just plain robbery. I should be the one on trial.
Truth is, the secondary beer market exists simply because there is an abundance of quality beer and it’s impossible to get it all. Many craft beer fans see it as a necessity. I missed two can releases because of jury duty. So I went above and beyond my civic duty as far as I’m concerned.
Trading is also a great way to expose the local breweries to a wider audience but that can also be a double edged sword. Talk to any brewer – protecting the integrity of their product is one of the first things they will voice concerns about. The majority of them are wary of having their product shipped around and traded. I would say that most people handle beer with care and make the effort to maintain that integrity because they feel a sense of ownership too, but there are no guarantees.
For the most part people barter for beer in good faith. It may seem like a generic term but many legally binding contracts contain those words. In fact, the case I was involved in the term, “in good faith” played a role in the verdict.
So what about that small minority of people that look to profit from this secondary market?
It’s poor writing form to start with a question.
Let me rephrase, this would be the point where I would go on a tirade about people who put in zero extra effort to get beer and then add some sort of surcharge like they provided a significant service. Or those that demand what they consider equal value because they put some arbitrary value on a can or bottle of beer. When in truth their goal is to make sure that they come out ahead in the trade. Solely blaming them wouldn’t be fair. Those who fall into these trade traps should be responsible for some of the blame, if not an equal share. If you think this is worth it – fair play to you.
On that point I will say this – enjoy craft beer however you want. Trade, tap or travel – Just make sure your money is going directly to the breweries. Chase your dragons, unicorns and whales, whatever the hell you want to call them. Don’t take advantage of people and let’s make sure the beer and the people who make it possible come first.
Those that feign support for the craft community while trying to manipulate and profit from the hard work of others that’s fine … all I have to say to you is E CHUTA… and that’s not Latin.
I rest my case.