The Rare Release Cult Following...

As markets throughout the east coast hoppily happily get their (sometimes) fair share of the awesome beer that is Bell's Brewery HopSlam (an imperial IPA that's drawn quite the cult following), I continue to be amazed at the fervor with which the general craft enthusiast brings to such a release. I'll actually be attending a rare release here in the near future (Cigar City's Hunahpu Day) with Tyler of Broken Cog. I've discussed Hunahpu in the past and how its popularity has absolutely soared within the last few years.

I believe this will be the fourth year that Cigar City has held this event, which has steadily increased its attendance (as well as its complexity) in the past two-three years alone. It's enough that local hotels are paying attention and either offering discounted block rates or simply jacking up the prices of their rooms because of the event's increased notoriety. An event such as this gives the brewery that holds it some clout within its respective communities - and often times the little rope they're normally given for events is extended a little more. As a result, the support of the beer enthusiast crowd for the release of rarer beers like Hopslam and Hunahpu (and these are just a few of the many that are celebrated across the country and throughout the world) has greatly increased. You know what? We totally embrace it :)

I tossed the notion out there this week that I hope GrassLands gets enthusiasts (as well as distributors and vendors) as excited as they are for these rare releases. That's one of the numerous reasons I love the potential of our Black Rose Immortal Imperial Stout - as well as some other current experiments that could possibly turn out to be similarly focused releases.

This got me thinking: What's the threshold between what a brewery constitutes a "flagship" vs. a "seasonal" vs a "limited release"? I suppose cost of production (ingredients/fermentation+aging time/etc.) has a lot to do with it...as well as general interest from the beer enthusiasts at large. I imagine it'd be quite entertaining to compare what a brewery originally thinks its flagships will be vs. what the public determines its flagships to be. I'd consider a more inaccessible beer like Hopslam to be a high-end seasonal release, where a specific amount of production capacity is allocated solely for the brewing of the imperial IPA. The limited amount of availability allows for the beer to be actively sought after in the craft community, hence its typical steep price per pint, six-pack or case. I will admit though, Hopslam is worth its sticker price - even in years where the perceived quality isn't consistent with previous releases.

This whole thought process has driven me to ponder the label I should assign to one of my babies: LeeRoy the Red Imperial Amber. The GrassHoppers are familiar with this beer. The boys at Pensacola Beer are VERY familiar with its evolution toward an eventual final product :) (and for that I'm very grateful). But in what category does LeeRoy fit? Is he a seasonal/limited release? Is he potentially a flagship? I know he's garnered some high praise among our awesome reviewers, but how might the general beer-consumer react to him? How is that determined?

These are just a few of the numerous questions that fly through my head (seemingly) every night. Brewing is an awesome hobby to have, but there is so much more that goes into a brewery's actual operation. I believe we've got the core recipes in place to possibly put GrassLands out there among the real players, but that will surely take time and effort...and consistency in quality and production.

We'll promise yet again, when GrassLands finally takes off, it'll be due to the work we'll be putting in ahead of time to make sure the risk of leaping into small business ownership is justified. We love beer and brewing beer; and love what GrassLands can become. That's why we want to do it right. We owe it to you and to ourselves to put in the work ahead of time. That we can promise.

As GrassLands progresses toward an eventual reality, its friends & family can point back to articles like these as evidence that we're leaving no stone unturned when it comes to making sure we're as prepared as possible to make this thing work. Because without that level of preparation, without that level of knowledge, without doing your homework ahead of time; there simply won't ever be any GrassLands' rare or limited release events...let alone a flagship for others to enjoy. We're doing what we can to make those exciting things possible - and your never-ending support has been exceptionally encouraging for us going forward!

Sooooooo...that was a long one, eh? Still reading? Still excited? That's what we like to hear! We're still 100% stoked that this thing is moving forward in the right direction and in the right way! Have a (pun definitely intended) "Super" weekend, my dear readers; because you definitely deserve it!

Prost!