Beer releases can be quite a controversial topic. Ask multiple beer lovers what their preferred way to score beer at a release is and you will most likely receive two very differing opinions. The two strong contenders in the beer release debate are tickets vs. lines. Obviously the beer at a release is sought after, or there wouldn’t need to be a release to purchase bottles. So keep that in mind while we talk about the pros and cons of each. Of course, I have my own opinion, so while I will attempt to be fair, my personal bias will most likely be involved.
A ticket guarantees you will be able to purchase the beer. Founders has recently begun to release their beers using the ticket system. Customers go online on a certain day and time and purchase tickets. Those tickets are your guarantee that if you arrive at the brewery on that particular day, you will receive your full allotment of beer.
A guaranteed ticket allows you to make better plans. If you know that you will definitely be receiving beer, you can make plans. Whether those plans are for that day (what time to pick up the beer and what to do with the rest of your day), that weekend (vacation around a brewery release – if you know you are guaranteed beer on Saturday between 11 – 6, you can visit other breweries on Friday and Sunday, eat at local restaurants, go to local attractions, etc.), or the long-run (plan trades, plan tastings, etc.).
Ticket systems are sterile. Walk into the brewery, buy the beer, and leave. There may be delicious beers on tap at the brewery, but that isn’t always the case. The beer that you are buying may not even be on tap. Founders recently sold tickets to their KBS bottle release days. The beer is being sold at the brewery on Wednesday - Saturday. If you bought tickets for Saturday, you are in great shape because that is the day that KBS will be on tap at the brewery. If you purchased Wednesday tickets, you won’t get to drink KBS on tap. There will of course be other beers on tap, but not KBS. *That being said: If you don’t care about the party and just want your beer, then this isn’t a deal breaker.*
The line is the fun. At most beer releases when lines are involved, impromptu tastings occur. Since you never know who you will be standing near in line, you also never know where those people come from and what new beers you will get to try just because of where you happened to get in line. And people tend to bring whales to beer releases. Whether they plan to trade or simply impress those around them, the beers that are cracked open are not ones you typically find at the local grocery store. In fact, we have had the opportunity to taste many rare beers while waiting in a beer release line.
The official beer release day has that beer on tap and/or a party to go along with it. At last year’s CBS release, CBS was on tap along with Backwoods Bastard and Blushing Monk. At the Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th bottle release, Dark Horse had its 4 Elf party with 46 Dark Horse beers on tap.
You meet the best people while waiting in line. Beer people, in general, are fun people. They aren’t pretentious, they don’t judge, they simply want to enjoy the beer and whatever event that goes along with it. *Disclaimer: Yes, there are snobby beer people who are pretentious, but they are the minority and they don’t typically wait in lines.* We have met people that we still communicate with and consider good friends while waiting in line. You can’t help but form a friendship with people when you are standing in line with them for 6 hours.
Weather may not be beautiful, especially if the release is in a cold weather state or month. At all the releases we have been to, it has been 30 degrees or below for the entire time we were in line. Snow fell during one release. It rained at one, but only for a short period of time. *That being said: If you dress for the weather, it isn’t that big of a deal.*
Lines do not guarantee you beer. At the KBS release last year, we were 530th in line. Technically we shouldn’t have received any beer. But Founders saw the line and decided to reduce the allotment that everyone was allowed to purchase. I’m sure that made the people who had gotten there at 11:00 PM angry, but it made the people who were further back in line happy. *That being said: Would it have sucked if we didn’t get any KBS, yes, but we still would have had fun in line, gotten to drink tons of delicious beer, and gotten to drink KBS on tap at the brewery that day.*
I am a line kind of girl. I absolutely want to buy the beer that is being released, but I am also in it for the fun, the friends, and the overall experience. Beer, in my opinion, is a shared experience. Beer release lines are the epitome of that experience for me.
This picture was found on someone else’s blog post. Ha ha!