There’s a devoted group of private beer collectors who travel the country for special, brewery-only releases. Often, this is the only way to secure these limited-edition brews — many with price tags of upwards of $50, $75, or even $100+ for a single bottle! The whole culture of queuing up in line for hours before a beer release fuels a robust revenue stream for breweries. But now, with many states on travel lockdown and shelter-in-place orders that prevent even locals from turning out for highly-anticipated beer debuts, many craft breweries across the U.S. are relying on online sales channels like web-based retailer Tavour to satisfy demand.
For well-established breweries like Anchorage Brewing, this signals a shift in how they serve their fans. Their highly sought-after, small-batch A Deal with the Devil (ADWTD) Barleywine has historically drawn massive crowds when the brewers release a new edition at the taproom — but reality came crashing down this spring. In light of COVID19, Anchorage announced, with a heavy heart, that they will postpone their on-site release party and push out this collector’s item exclusively through Tavour.
Instead of being up in arms about the change of plans, craft collectors from far-flung corners of the country are expressing gratitude for the expanded accessibility of this special edition. This year, no flights or crowds stand between them and this hot-ticket item. In fact, when Anchorage’s head brewer Gabe Fletcher shared the news on social media, that they were cancelling the April 1st taproom release “until all of this craziness goes away and we can get back to normal life,” fans sounded off. “At a time like this, we need this beer!!” one person wrote. “Looks like I will be glued to my Tavour app next week!” another said.
For craft fans in-the-know, A Deal with the Devil is worth scouring the country to get — and paying top dollar for. The brewers age this galaxy-hopped Barleywine in top-shelf Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon Barrels. Then, they blend 24-month and 12-month-old ADWTD that they transfer into fresh barrels halfway through aging. The result is a sinfully smooth elixir that clocks in at a blush-inducing 17% ABV and earns a perfect 100/100 score on BeerAdvocate (a user-based beer rating platform).
And, for the new 2020 vintage, Anchorage packaged it in wax-dipped cans for the first and ONLY time EVER, making it even more rare. It’s also extremely small-batch, with a mere 178 cases produced. Apart from a small reserve that Anchorage stowed away in the brewery cellar, the entire batch is on its way to Tavour.
Previous vintages are massively valuable on beer trade forums, with beer traders willing to offer other rare treasures from powerhouse breweries like 3 Floyds, Holy Mountain, American Solera, FiftyFifty, and even Hill Farmstead. So, collectors are already on high alert in anticipation of this latest ADWTD release.
“It’s imperative that we not only continue to support the breweries but also give craft beer fans something to look forward to,” Meghan Packard, VP at Tavour says. “And now, during a time like this, it is more important than ever.”