A couple weeks ago Maine Beer Company released their limited edition double IPA, Dinner, at their brewery in Freeport. The brewery opened at noon, and according to multiple sources people started to line up at the door before 8 AM in anticipation of this release. On a Thursday. I love Maine Beer Company’s beers. I stopped by the brewery last week on a trip to Maine and grabbed some of their signature IPA Lunch along with a variety of other favorites. I am sure Dinner is amazing. A friend of mine had some from their first batch and loved it. All of those things are true, but there is still no way in hell I would spend hours of my day standing in line to buy beer. This isn’t a one-time thing. At least once a month I see a local brewery release a limited edition beer that results in a mad rush of enthusiastic beer fans who line up and wait for hours to buy it. I am not one of those people, and I won’t be. Here are some of my reasons:
1. I have a busy life. I have a good career that has nothing to do with beer or brewing (this is all a hobby for me). I’m married, plus I have a strong circle of friends and family. All of these things take up a large amount of my time. Sometimes I wish I was at a place where I could take 5 hours out of my weekday to wait in line to buy beer, but then I realize that even if I did have that time I would hope to find a slightly more productive way to use it.
2. There are so many amazing beers that are available for purchase without waiting in line. Every time I walk into Craft Beer Cellar or another quality beer store I see hundreds of beers I’ve never tried. I also see hundreds of other selections that I know and love, and others I haven’t tasted in way too long. Some of the new beers won’t be great, others will. None of the beers requires hours of waiting. How much better could these rare beers be than my readily accessible favorites?
3. Wait-in-line beers tend to be over-rated. Some of these beers are incredible, but I feel like some beers get highly rated just because they are so hard to find. Do you know how many of the 50 highest rated beers in New England (according to Beer Advocate) are regularly available at your local liquor store, assuming you live in metro Boston? Zero. One that is occasionally available is the Trillium Fort Point Pale Ale, the rest are mostly wait-in-line or drive for hours beers. Are these beers really the best brewed in New England, or is there a selection bias because it is the same small group of people who wait in line to drink them? I think I need to write an entire rant about this subject alone.
Listen, if you want to wait in line for hours to get your hands on some rare beers, be my guest, I have no problem with that. To each their own. I’m sure some of the beers are even worth the wait. I just have a suggestion, the next time you do, also head to the store and buy a few readily available beers of a similar style. Set up a little blind tasting with your friends and see if the beer you spent all that time (and most likely more money) acquiring is really better than the great beers that are consistently available. I’d be interested to see what your conclusions are.