Would You Stand In Line 17 Hours for A Barrel Aged Imperial Stout?
This past weekend marked the return of Churchill’s Finest Hour (A barrel aged Imperial Stout brewed by Lost Abbey for Churchill’s Pub and Grille) and the release party, Churchill’s Renaissance. For the past few years, this event has drawn quite a crowd, made up of local diehards and Southern California based opportunists.
In a nutshell, Lost Abbey is famous for creating very rare, sought after beers with notoriously a low bottle counts. This is particularly attractive to folks new to craft beer who have heard the hype surrounding it (#NewMoney #DDB), traders who understand they can “flip” or command a hefty one-sided trade, and sadly, the secondary market who look to sell this beer for triple the retail price.
I often wondered if any particular beer like Churchill’s Finest Hour, or 3 Floyds DarkLord or Goose Island Bourbon County stout would eventually get passed around enough to where the hype would die down. After following along on my Facebook news feed all weekend, I can say that the phenomenon of lining up for low bottle count runs of craft beer is here to stay. I kept hearing the number 17 hours in line. 17 HOURS!! Much like the latest and greatest iPhone, there will always be a new wave of fanatics and a strong group of opportunists who will ride that initial wave. While I could not imagine camping out on a sidewalk in San Marcos, California, many people did, and did so with great pride. While I will never go to that extreme for beer, and have been cutting back on bottle releases in general (due to lack of time), I find all of this very fascinating. I am also proud to say that while I used to get mild anxiety from missing out on these events, I am now numb to it, and look forward to somebody cracking any of these rare beers at a tasting.
I’d like to throw out a few questions that I’d love feedback on. I think of these particular questions every time there is one of these super hyped releases.
1. If Lost Abbey brewed and bottled as much Churchill’s Finest Hour as Firestone Walker Brewed of Parabola 2014 (3,500 Cases or 42,000 bottles), would people line up for it?
2. Why do people love Barrel Aged Imperial Stout so much? I know why I do, but this style in particular commands a level of enthusiasm like none other.
3. Has this collecting/hoarding/waiting/lining up sub culture of craft beer made it more or less enjoyable for you?
4. Do you think the collecting/hoarding/waiting/lining up will eventually settle or intensify over the next 3 years?
5. Is it more than just lining up for a bottle? Is it an enjoyable community based experience?
As a final thought, this culture does not bother me, it’s just interesting to me. It does bother some, but you will find this type of consumer behavior in video games, movie releases, music releases and more.