Beer nuts: Connoisseurs stand in line to grab limited quantities of rare craft brews
“The more educated beer lovers are as hard-core as any NFL fan tailgating at a game or someone waiting in line for tickets for the U2 show,” said Julia Herz, spokeswoman for the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo.-based craft beer trade organization. “It’s a growing phenomenon with more beer enthusiasts growing into beer geekdom.”
The phenomenon has spread throughout the industry. The Goose Island release this week was preceded by months of online chatter about the beer. Many beer festivals — like Saturday’s first-ever Winter Brew in Lincoln Square — are selling out in record time, leading to brisk secondhand online markets. Also, brewery tours are increasingly popular. At Lincoln Square’s Half Acre Beer Co., they have been booked for more than a year.
The real prize, though, is the beer. Goose Island will incite the masses again in early February with Bramble Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout — an imperial stout aged in rye whiskey barrels with raspberries and blackberries.
Drinkers routinely stand in line for hours at Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Ind., each spring for a shot at the brewery’s iconic Dark Lord, a Russian imperial stout brewed with coffee and vanilla. More recently, the brewery’s Zombie Dust — a robust, easy-drinking pale ale — has garnered equal adoration, which as recently as Friday saw people overflowing the parking lot to buy cases minutes after the bottles were filled. Literally.
“It’s pandemonium,” Nick Floyd, Three Floyds president and founder said Friday. “People are doing all this crazy stuff, driving from all over. It’s bizarre.”
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