Sunday, March 4, 2012

Exponential Insanity

I now mourn the limited availability of a beer I have never had: Exponential Hoppiness by Alpine Beer Company. Brewer Pat McIlhenney has stated in an e-mail that he will never sell this beer in growlers or bottles again because of the eBay secondary market for it. I have some mixed feelings about this as it will make it harder, if not impossible, to get to taste this beer since it is a fairly long drive for me to get out to Alpine just to have a glass on tap. If I'm gonna drive out there I want to make it worth the trip and be able to pick up some bottles or a growler for myself & ny beer family (Greg and Warren). I do see Pat's point, that all this crazy hype has got to stop with folks waiting in line for hours to buy beer that they are just going to turn around and sell for a profit.

Excerpt from ABC's e-mail on the subject: “Since I previously stated if I ever saw a growler of “Exponential Hoppiness” for sale on ebay there would never be another growler sold again. Don’t blame me, but you can see who to blame on the above link. As for bottles of “Expo” on ebay, I’m seriously considering never bottling it again. This is not just a personal issue, it’s illegal. The fact that people drove down from LA to make a quick buck and denying the locals the chance to buy some is also just plain wrong.”

Now, Pat sounds a bit extreme in his "locals only" vibe, but I think a lot of people are forgetting that he has always been this way. I can't remember the exact year Greg and I got introduced to ABC's beer, but it was probably about 2004 or so and we only heard of it because Greg's son was living out in Alpine. At that time you had only a few ways to get their beer - either at one the few San Diego beer bars that was getting it (Liar's Club in Mission Beach was one) or you could drive out to Alpine and get bottles from the local liquor stores or growlers direct from the brewery. Hell, half the time you couldn't buy bottles at the brewery as Pat wanted to support the stores selling his beer and refused to sell some stuff direct. At that time it seemed he didn't give a damn if anyone outside of Alpine was drinking his beer - forget about LA and OC! Thankfully I can now find Alpine beers in shops like Bottlecraft, and at many of my local haunts such as Ritual Tavern, Toronado, and Small Bar as we don't drive out to Alpine on a weekly basis anymore.

I do see how this sort of limiting can make demand go up and will freely admit that we got the royal treatment at the San Francisco branch of the Rogue Public House by giving the bartender a bottle of Pure Hoppiness - this was back in 2007 and we just happened to strike up a conversation with a patron who had been to San Diego and had some Alpine beer. He started telling the bartender what great beer it was and we had some in our car so we went and grabbed a bottle and gave it to the bartender (who had never had it before).  But, in my defense, I'm not selling it on eBay or even trading with other beer collectors online.

Bottom line: Pat brews the beer and can sell it however he wants to (within the confines of the law). And if you think you are having a hard time getting Alpine Beer now, well, it could be a LOT worse.

More info at: West Coaster, San Diego Beer Blog, Brewery Rowe

Edited to add - check out Charlie Blevins' comment on Alpine's Facebook page as he sums it up pretty well for the Alpine residents who have supported Pat from the beginning.