Special Release? Bring Grandma

Driving down the street at 6:00 am on a rainy, cold day you encounter a very long line-up wrapping around a warehouse. Is this an election polling station? A warehouse shoe sale? A really early concert? Nope, it’s just your typical much-anticipated specialty beer release.

Dark Lord Day, Hunahpu’s Day, Jester King’s Atrial Rubicite release – these and many, many more beer releases come with great anticipate, long line-ups, after-release trading and probably, some shenanigans. You hear of people bringing multiple family members (hey Grandma, want to go to Denny’s – we just need to make a quick pit stop), changing their clothes and getting in line again. selling the beer from their trunk in the brewery’s parking lot (yes, seriously) and, of course, selling the beer for a huge premium on various beer sites. Insert collective eye-roll and groan from the breweries here.

Breweries put in various measures to make distribution as fair as possible for their beer fans as well as to stop the black market sales but in reality, they don’t have much control over what their “fans” do with the beer.

A common solution is to put restrictions on the number of bottles each person can buy. When it’s kept to one or two bottles per person, this is probably an effective method to allow multiple people an opportunity to try the beer. When the limit is six bottles or more, it’s more likely that the **FULL LIMIT** purchaser is buying to trade or sell. This probably isn’t the fan you’re trying to cater to.

Jester King, for one, has resorted to stamping the purchaser’s arm multiple times with ink that can only be seen with an ultraviolet light. This stops the person who has a trunk full of t-shirts, wigs and funky glasses from scamming a second, third and fourth bottle. It’s sad that it has to resort to this but releasing only one bottle per person spreads the wealth amongst their beer fans.

Each brewery will set their own parameters for special releases to weigh the potential issues around black-market sales and purchasing solely to trade. Disappointing your local fans when they miss out on a release, due to the aforementioned issues, is something that should be considered. We all know that you won’t be able to please everyone and ultimately, some loyal fans will miss out on a special release. Managing the release in a way that your team feels is fair and will cause you the least amount of sad face twitter emoticons is usually a good starting plan.

Good luck and get Grandma to send us a bottle 😉


Post by: Lynn McIlwee