On a yearly interval, Founders Brewing company releases one of the top beers in the country, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. Currently ranked #9 by users of the popular craft beer site, BeerAdvocate.com, this beer has become very difficult to find over the last few years. In previous years the brewery would hold an official release day on which fanatics would gather their mules (beer slang for people brought along to facilitate the purchases of excess quantities), and stand outside the building as early as midnight, just to receive 12-24 bottles each when they opened at 10 or 11. Last year, the craziness came to a head when the turnout was so overwhelming that Founders cut in half the stated allotment of one case per person, and even then, hundreds left empty-handed.
Fast-forward to this year with the most recent installment of their Backstage Series, Bolt Cutter. To avoid long lines and chaos, they chose to sell tickets to buy bottles, with proceeds benefiting local charities. Each person that bought a ticket was able to pick up two bottles on a specified day, over a 5 day period. No lines, no mules, no insanity. Tickets didn't even sell out for a couple of weeks, giving all of those interested a chance to grab one. Their approach worked so well that it is now being carried over to the KBS release, with a limited amount getting distributed throughout the brewery's footprint.
For some, the camaraderie of standing in the cold for hours and sharing beers with complete strangers is part of the experience. For the rest of us with grown-up responsibilities that love this beer and would like to purchase more than a few bottles at their local store, the change is welcomed.
So after my long-winded description of the event surrounding one of my favorite beers, here is the release information directly from Founders...