February 28th, 2010, Christie and I departed for Portsmouth, NH. This trip was inspired by an invitation from 2beerguys.com to come down for a craft beer weekend, which happened to coincide with Kate the Great Day.
For those unfamiliar with KTG, like me prior to that invitation, Kate the Great is an imperial stout. It is made by the Portsmouth Brewing Company, and is a limited release. I thought it would be fun to go down the day before, get a hotel, and get up early to go get some beer that had been hyped up.
Boy, did I not have any idea what I was getting myself into. But let’s start with the happy.
Portsmouth is a pretty cool town for craft beer. We visited several bars the night of the 28th, and Portsmouth Brewing Company was one of them. They offered a substantial flight of samplers, including their own in-house beers, some Smuttynose Beers (I was told they are both owned by the same individuals), and some out of state beers. This sampler was a very nice gathering of beer, wide in variety, and while not all remarkable, they were all *good*.
We were out late drinking, and on the way back to the hotel, we passed two guys, standing in the sleet outside the Portsmouth Brewing Company. Standing in line already? I thought — these guys are crazy. I went home, and set the alarm fairly early for a morning after drinking, eight o’clock.
I woke up, opened the laptop to see if there was anything buzzing about the day already, doubtful, but what the heck. I woke to a very disapointing message:
Kate the Great tickets all handed out by 5:25AM
I was flabbergasted. 5:25AM? That’s insane. How many people had to be up that early for it to sell out? How are normal people supposed to compete with that?
Well, it turns out that I was able to try Kate the Great. After standing in line for a mere 90 minutes, I got to try some on draft. It was good — I had two glasses. It was exceptionally well balanced, had roastiness, chocolate, caramel sweetness, and a beautiful vanilla from the oaking. But worth camping out on the sidewalk overnight? No way.
This brings me to a quandary. There are friends of mine that are interested in this beer, and without making the pilgrimage themselves, they have two ways to get to try it.
- Get someone they know to share (who is crazy enough to make the trip and camp out)
- Buy it on Ebay for $100/bottle
I don’t personally like either option. There should be a way for a well prepared adult to get to try different beers without sleeping on a sidewalk, or without paying 10x what the brewery makes on a bottle. I don’t know the solution, and there is currently some buzz in the craft beer community on what to do about these situations that are getting out of hand (in some peoples’ view).
If you have an opinion, chime in. I’m interested to hear ideas. Because what I did didn’t work for me, and I’m not sure I like my options next time.