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The Beer Circle » American Wild Ale, Beer Release, Ithaca Beer Co » Ithaca LeBleu Release

Ithaca LeBleu Release

The Line Ahead of Us

When I finally received word that Ithaca would be releasing LeBleu, the sought-after blueberry American Wild Ale, I began making plans right away. Typically, this beer is released on New Years’ Eve. I hadn’t made the trip before, but I was planning to go this previous New Year’s Eve when Ithaca postponed its release, saying that they wild ale simply was not yet ready. Based on the fact that the brewery stated that there would be about 120 cases available and it wasn’t a December release, my friends, Adam and Matt, and I decided to leave Harrisburg, PA at 6:00 AM to make sure we received bottles.

We arrived in sunny Ithaca at approximately 9:30 AM to a line of about 60 people. There was a collective sigh amongst our group, as we figured we had arrived in ample time to get precious loot. We respected the request of Ithaca Beer Company not to drink in the parking lot, and I greatly regret that decision. Time couldn’t have passed by any slower and we found ourselves constantly watch-checking. A few other people in the line were drinking, so we wouldn’t have been out of place if we did, but we didn’t want to cause any trouble.

The Line Close to Opening Behind Us

Finally at 11:00, the line inched forward signaling that the store had opened and sales had begun. Some people at the beginning of the line we walking out with their one case allotment in addition to individual bottles of LeBleu. An initial oversight led to there being no limit to the number of individual bottles you could buy, but you could only buy one sealed case. Ithaca was not aware of this for about 10 minutes before they stopped the practice. Around 11:10 they made an announcement to the rest of the line that there were 100 cases available. Seeing that the line snaked through the parking lot and down the hill towards the new brewery, it was evident that not everyone that journeyed to Ithaca was going to get LeBleu.

Inside Ithaca Beer Company

The line felt like it was taking forever, and when we got inside we noticed that it was 12:00. Overall, we had moved a total of 100 feet in one hour. In about another 30 minutes, we secured our beer, but it had felt like an eternity had passed. The main reason for the delay was that there was one cashier, and each case had to be rang up as an individual transaction. Thankfully, Ithaca was serving some samples of beer to help the time pass, including the new Fourteen. They even offered cheese and dried fruit to pair the beer with in the brewery, and I took advantage of this since I was starving.

I picked up eight bottles of LeBleu and one bottle of Fourteen; Adam picked up 4 and 1, and Matt picked up 4 of LeBleu. We were all aware that we had the ability to pick up one case, but we didn’t based on financial constraints and personal need. I found out later that the beer ran out in about 3 hours, putting my friends and I almost smack dab in the middle of patrons who received beer. We were nowhere near the geometric center of the line, however, so a lot of people did not end up with the treasure they sought.

The Haul

Our discussion in line before the brewery even opened centered around the fact that we thought Ithaca should have reduced the case limit down to six bottles based on the amount of people that showed up for the beer. I would have been willing to sacrifice some of my bottles to ensure that almost everyone that traveled there received at least one bottle. I know some people probably would disagree with that statement, but I feel like the ratio of people that didn’t get bottles to the people who did get bottles was entirely too high, and twelve bottles was too many for an individual. Sure, I picked up some bottles for other people, but I believe the people who actually made the journey deserved the beer more than those that had a mule get them the beer. While Ithaca was under no obligation to do so, I feel like it would have been a rewarding gesture to those that traveled such great distances to get this beer. At a minimum, they should have gone through the line and counted off the people to determine who was at the cutoff point for guaranteed bottles. This way, people didn’t stand in line for three hours to go home empty handed.

I realize that as craft beer gets more popular that releases are going to be more crowded and each beer will be more difficult to get. It’s the new reality of beer releases, and it’s something I will have to accept. Ithaca delivered exactly as promised with the number of cases, the case limit (with a few exceptions), and the first come, first served basis. However, I would have applauded them if they acted based on persons present and lowered the bottle limit.

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Written by Jeff Kupko

Jeff is a traffic engineer that loves his beer, and especially loves trying new beer. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Yuengling was a staple and the beginnings of liking something better than fizzy yellow water. This has evolved into an entire hobby, with Jeff keeping a blog of all of the beers he tries. Vacations most certainly involve at least one brewery or bottle shop visit to gather a region’s coveted fruits. Now, Jeff has ventured into homebrewing, and there is probably no saving him from being engulfed entirely by beer. While Imperial Stouts and IPAs rank highest in Jeff’s eyes, sours are sneaking up on those styles, and Jeff loves to try all different styles. Find Jeff Kupko on Google Plus

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