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One box, so much potential. The variety pack was my bane and my savior when I used to buy beer in my home state of Pennsylvania. There, backwards liquor laws meant most beer was sold by the case in state-owned shops; six-packs cost $15 and were available only at special “delis”; and I’m pretty sure drinking was illegal on Tuesdays. But the beer box, with its 6-bottle x 4-variety configuration, let you sneak around the no-sixers loophole. Thus the variety pack was double-edged: it was both a boon to curious drinkers and a constant reminder of our restrictive state.

Now I live in D.C., where we enjoy one of the largest beer selections in the country. The weird thing is, outside of backwards states like Pennsylvania, variety packs are mostly embraced by benign, “beginner” craft breweries, such as Saranac and Samuel Adams (if you want to make some enemies, you could include Magic Hat in that category). That’s why it’s exciting to see high-quality breweries like Great Lakes market 12-bottle variety packs to D.C. — whether you’re discovering new styles of beer, joining a party with mixed tastes, or you’re just thirsty and indecisive, it’s an inexpensive way to try new things without committing to even a six-pack. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have 12 new beers to commit to myself.