As most San Francisco Bay area beer aficionados will know, last weekend was the always much-anticipated release of Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger, a one-time-only beer that usually sells out the day it is released. Once it’s gone, that’s it for another year.

I was at said launch last year, and while I enjoyed the beer, I didn’t much care for the chaos, crowds, confusion and wait times for service. I wouldn’t do it again, but that’s just me. The beer, as I noted, is good, very good, even, but no beer is going to make me go through that kind of circus.

Others, however, obviously feel otherwise, as this year’s release was as crowded and boisterous as ever, according to those who attended. Which is perfectly fine and great for those who attended and for Russian River, the owners and operators of which go to great lengths to make things go as smoothly as possible.

Then this happens. Via the Burgundian Babble Belt, the Boggle About Beer blog and Nathalie Cilurzo herself, co-owner of Russian River with her husband Vinnie, I learn that some douche apparently smuggled some Younger out of the pub and put it up for sale on eBay. (The posting has since been removed, which suggests to me that either the beer was fake – which is where my money lies – or the seller was sufficiently humiliated by the reaction that he/she removed it from the site. Or maybe whoever it was took someone’s money and made a quick sale. Who knows!?)

This does happen, of course. There are those who want to try rare and virtually unobtainable Beer X at almost any price, as the legions of listings on eBay will attest, and if someone wants to buy a bomber bottle of some hot and talked-about ale or lager – ha-ha, just kidding about that lager part! Let’s face it, the geeks only want ales – and pay through the nose for it, well, more power to them.

But this one is different. Nathalie and Vinnie expressly served this beer as draught only this year, with no take out allowed, because they wanted to serve as wide-ranging a clientele as possible, and hopefully have some fun in so doing. Even so, according to Nathalie’s post on the subject, people were caught slopping beer into a canteen or bottle and trying to smuggle it out of the pub! Never mind that said beer will ultimately have all the integrity and appeal of the dregs of last night’s unfinished and unrefrigerated pint.

Collecting beer reviews, or “ticking,” as it is sometimes known, is always going to happen in our current culture of craft beer, and for those who enjoy it, I say go for it! But when the character of the beer is as compromised as would be a canteen of hastily and surreptitiously decanted ale, then the tickers have gone too far and become, as per the title of this post, beer-holes. It’s one thing to want to taste the beer, quite another to be willing to sample it after it has been subjected to all kinds of abuse. What’s next? Smuggling some out in your mouth and spitting into your friend’s eagerly awaiting gob?

One of the main beer review sites has as its motto “Respect Beer.” Exactly!

8 Replies to “Beer-Holes”

  1. What, now there is a call for a Digital Millennium Copyright Act for beer?

    We can call it the Craft Brewer’s Are Mad That Someone Makes Beer Available To All And Makes Some Money Act

    I for one do not support the CBAMTSMBATAAMSMA

    RR – quit yer whining…most breweries would be happy that their beer was highly praised… apparently you are too big for your britches…

    1. I’m not complaining about the reselling, Mike. (If someone wants to pay $400 for a bottle of rare beer, well, that’s what eBay is for.) But that smuggled out, now-under-carbonated and oxidized beer is going to be consumed by someone who thinks this is the way the Younger is supposed to taste, when obviously it is not. No artisan wants their creation to be experienced in a substandard way, and Nathalie’s post, I think, reflects that.

  2. Stephen, you quoted a beer site with the motto “respect beer.” That site is Beer Advocate. How do they respect beer?

    1. I’m offering no comment about whether BA respects beer or not, just saying that’s what beer aficionados should do and what beer smugglers are not doing. (Although, to be fair, I know quite a number of BAs and RBs who do respect beer and govern their behavior accordingly. As with most crowds, the bad ‘uns are a decided minority in both cases.)

  3. In my view (as well as some others, most of whom are not American), Beer Advocate abuses beer, not respect it. Since they made up the slogan, I wonder (and I am being serious), what it means.

    Love beer, study beer, enjoy beer – these are all phrases that make some sense to me, but “respect beer”? I don’t get it.

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