Waiting in line for a limited edition beer release is a rite of passage in the world of beer snobbery. With it comes a whole subset of baggage – is the beer worth the hype that necessitates getting up early and waiting in line for it? Can you be objective about a value judgement with the added investment of time? Are we all just sheep for having been made to think it’s worth it because everyone has to wait in line? Somehow, I have not yet been baptized in this grand tradition. Until now.
Every year, Goose Island releases their celebrated Bourbon County Brand Stout (and host of variants) on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Ever since I started paying attention to this, I’ve been otherwise indisposed with work or inconvenient geography. With an open Black Friday this year, I decided to be a little more proactive about figuring out if I could snag a bottle or two.
The last couple of Thanksgivings have brought my wife and I to my mother-in-law’s beach house in the tiny coastal town of Lewes, Delaware. It’s a quaint village, but it hardly lends itself to dependable BCBS acquisition points like Total Wine and More. The one thing it does have is a little beer and wine shop with a die hard beer fan who bends over backwards to talk shop with anyone and everyone with which he comes in contact. A quick call to this fellow gave me a couple leads. On my second call, Outlet Liquors right down the road confirmed they had a couple cases of BCBS ready for purchase on Friday. With a 9 AM open, I decided I would arrive at 8 AM sharp, having no idea if I would arrive to a completely empty parking lot or a line around the joint.
I arrived at 8 AM and, lo and behold, not a soul in sight. I even beat all the employees. It’s not like I was planning on doing anything else at 8 in the morning, so I patiently sat in my car waiting for any real need to actually queue up. Finally, at 8:45, I was joined by a few others. Second in line was a gentleman from Chicago (hometown of Goose Island) who knew the usual madness associated with BCBS release. He regaled me with stories of having to line up at 5 AM to have any shot at grabbing a bottle, and bars that would open at 9 AM to crack full kegs of BCBS for the waiting masses. By 9 AM open here at Outlet Liquors, the line had burgeoned to 6 or 7, at which point we calmly walked to the back of the store and grabbed our limit two per customer. I anticlimactically sauntered over to the checkout, paid, and departed.
Clearly, I’ll have to document a crazier limited release event that better matches my expectations. In Richmond, Virginia, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery puts out some rare releases from time to time, and of course I’ll have to eventually get around to attempting to obtain Heady Topper up at Alchemist in Vermont. Until then, I’ll just enjoy bounty. Having never enjoyed BCBS, I plan to crack a bottle within the next few weeks. The other of the two bottles will join several other special release beers in my basement, aging and awaiting an occasion befitting of a fancy beer.