It's been a year-plus since I last saw a bottle of Sam Adams beer in an import-grocery store in Beijing. So when I found some in a store recently, at a reasonable-for-a-luxury-good-that-has-traveled-a-long-way 11.6 RMB/bottle ($1.70), naturally I ... bought every bottle they had:

 

It's hard to avoid such behavior when you confront erratic supply situations: buy now, because you have no idea when the chance will come again. Of course the next forlorn Westerner into the store will think: Jeez, I remember years ago when I saw some good, flavorful beer in this place. Guess they can't get it any more.

This behavior is made all the more painful on the heels of reading the great New Yorker story on extreme beer, which featured my former staple brew, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, and realizing that in some parts of the world people can walk into a store and buy any kind of beer they want! Ah, but they don't have the adventure I'm enjoying here on the frontier. Plus those 20 bottles to work through. Slowly.

Update: Via the Brezhnev.net blog from Shanghai, evidence that I'm not the only one to think and act this way. On the other hand, my wife and I have avoided the specific heartbreak described in that post by hauling Skippy and real mayo back with us on provisioning runs from the US. (Mayo visible in this linked picture, PB not because we'd brought a lot the previous time.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.