I sure love beer releases just as much as the next guy, but I've noticed an inherent problem with beer releases: black or grey market sales. This may come across as a bit of a rant, but it's a problem that has been plaguing limited edition beer releases now that craft beer has become so popular.Tomorrow marks the release of Bristol Brewing's Venetucci Pumpkin Ale. They've been doing this beer as a fundraiser for the farm since 2006, and it's been a huge producer of funds, helping build infrastructure, feed animals, and plant pumpkins. Each and every year, someone else tries to profit from Bristol's success.
Today, I was scrolling facebook, and saw this post (edited to preserve people's identities). Now, this wouldn't be a problem if he's trying to offload some 2013 bottles to make room for tomorrow's release. I honestly replied with the hopes that were the case. Alas, either someone at Bristol, or a retailer has been getting some of them out there early. Now, for a dollar above retail, you can pick up a bottle! UPDATE: After further research, he was just trying to get more people signed up for their allotment.This reminds me of the chaos that happened at Cigar City earlier this year for their Hunahpu Imperial Stout release, where scalpers counterfeited tickets and made it look like Cigar City oversold the event. Angry throngs of people ended up banging on the brewery doors and Cigar City's owner had to be escorted by Police. The brewery ended up reimbursing everyone and also giving away beer at their taproom free of cost for an entire day following the fiasco to the tune of over $200,000. Joey Redner, owner of Cigar City, decided because of what happened to never have a bottle-release component to Hunahpu's Day again. So in the long run, everyone suffers because of the greed of the few.We hear over and over that breweries need to step up and provide quality over quantity, but when are we as consumers going to be held to the same standard?When it comes down to it, Venetucci Pumpkin ale is a beer that provides great exposure and awareness for Bristol, but the profits all are directed towards the Farm. In my opinon, when individuals like the one shown above are selling bottles for over market value the retail price Bristol Sells them, it hurts the industry and hurts the brand. In recent years, stores have been called out when they gouge consumers for bottles of Venetucci Pumpkin ale, but they continue to do it. I understand turning a profit for your individual business, but when the idea behind a beer is purely charitable, the bad eggs are who we remember.So I leave you with this: I'll be in line tomorrow for my 2 bottles of Pumpkin Ale. Join me. Let's not forget the real reason behind Bristol's Community Ale program: Philanthropy.
I found out that the person above was just getting people to sign up for the extra bottles he had. Nothing was released early at his store.Talking to Mike Bristol last evening, he said that deliveries were made yesterday afternoon to area stores, and while many sat on their allotment and prepped for today's release, one place decided it was just too easy to capitalize off of the delivery. I'm mad, but mostly I'm sad that there's no respect for the release date.So on social media last night, pictures of bottles started showing up...Turns out a local liquor store decided that instead of waiting one day to release the beer in concurrence with the brewery release, they "popped their cherry" a little early to put it lightly. There's not much Bristol can do at this point, but it's just bad form. It's only one day.