Make limited batches of top-rated beer and you’re going to create high demand — which is the sort of problem no brewery, including Jester King, minds having.
Until people start breaking the rules to get that beer, that is.
Jester King recently published a blog post about last weekend’s release of the Hill Country brewery’s Montmorency vs. Balaton beer, a barrel-aged sour refermented with cherries. Only the second blend of the sour cherry beer, its 500 ml bottles were offered to-go at the Jester King taproom with a pretty standard purchasing limit for such a small batch of beer: one bottle per person per day.
But only 480 bottles out of the original 3,000 remain for this coming weekend, and that’s not because 2,520 people each stood in line to buy Montmorency vs. Balaton. According to the blog post, “Certain individuals managed to go through the line more than once by removing the ink stamp applied to each customer’s hand upon purchasing a bottle and/or by using disguises to fool our staff.”
Getting other people to buy the bottle for you was another problem that Jester King staffers noticed. “Additionally, we will be attempting to stop a rather unfortunate practice where individuals move from table to table in our courtyard, attempting to recruit our guests to act as ‘mules’ for them, in order to secure as many bottles as possible,” the blog post said.
The idea that people wanted extra bottles of the rare release so badly that they actually returned to the line in disguise is almost comical — but also a sad reflection of the current craft beer industry. Hundreds of people flock to Jester King’s picturesque Hill Country taproom each weekend for a taste of the brewery’s signature farmhouse ales because of both these beers, which aren’t easy to find elsewhere, and the gorgeous setting at which to drink them. If you can’t make a regular outing of it (which is becoming increasingly more warranted, since a limited release seems to happen almost every weekend), it makes sense that you’d want to stock up.
But by trying to dupe the brewery staff? By coaxing other visitors at the taproom to use up their stamp for you? That’s uncalled for. It’s a practice that Jester King has struggled with before, and to handle it, the brewery is “staffing an employee whose sole job is to be on the lookout for violators.”
Such a bummer gig, huh?
Obviously just enough people out there think the beers are worth all that deceit. Many of them simply want a bottle for themselves and a bottle (or two) to trade for other good beer, since Jester King’s one of those breweries sought-out around the country.
By trying to cheat their way into extra bottles, however, these folks are revealing their lack of respect for the people who make them or the other fans who love their beer and want a bottle of their own to take home. Bottom line: If the brewers don’t create enough for more than a one-bottle limit, that simply means you’ll have to savor every last drop of your single Montmorency vs. Balaton bottle — or any other Jester King beer that’s released.