It's a fact: People will wait in the pouring rain, the blazing-hot sun, or even the bitter cold for a chance to score a rare bottle or can of their favorite beer on its release day.
Recently, more than 1,200 people showed up at J. Wakefield Brewing for its annual February Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit Berliner Weisse bottle release. Fans of the purple-pink beer arrived as early as 4 a.m. to stand in a line that snaked around the block. In mid-March, Cigar City Brewing will throw a grand fete in Tampa to release its Hunahpu's imperial stout.
Scenes such as those play out nearly every month nationwide when beer lovers head to their favorite breweries for new, limited-edition, or specialty bottle releases. The draw is the exclusivity of being one of only a few to get their hands on a rare bottle to enjoy (or brag about on social media). Others are motivated to swap or resell their goods on illegal, underground craft-beer-selling platforms, often for prices that far exceed their initial investment.
But according to Odd Breed Wild Ales cofounders Matt Manthe and Daniel Naumko, the typical bottle-release event isn't working for brewers or — more important — their customers.
"We want to do things differently," Manthe says. "We want to make getting our beers easy and enjoyable. People shouldn't have to wait in a long line for hours or pay hundreds of dollars to get our beer simply because they're out of state or can't make it to a release. I want people to drink my beer without having to feel like it's a privilege."
Instead, when it opens later this summer, Pompano Beach-based Odd Breed Wild Ales will be not only the first to specialize in producing farmhouse and wild ales aged in oak barrels using traditional Belgian techniques, but also South Florida's first brewery to offer customers access to a unique online store to purchase specialty bottles. Customers can visit the Odd Breed website the day of the release and place an order for pickup anytime during the allowed timeline (two weeks for online bottles sales and 90 days for rare-bottle-club releases).
"It's another thing that makes us unique, along with the type of beer we're producing and our membership club for superexclusive beers," Naumko adds. "We've invested in some pretty powerful software for customer management, which is going to make it very easy for people to get their bottles, no standing in line required."
"Our bottle releases will still be very limited, in the same way most other specialty or limited bottle releases are, but we're trying to make it easier and more available to everyone," Manthe adds. "You'll still have to plan to get online when the release opens, but our system should make things a lot more relaxing."
Odd Breed Wile Ales will begin brewing three core beers year-round, including Wild Witbier (a mashup between a Belgian farmhouse ale and a German Berliner Weisse); Past & Future Saison (a classic Belgian farmhouse ale aged in French oak barrels); and Wild Gold (a complex wild ale made from a blend of the brewery's oldest and funkiest barrels).
Expect regular bottle releases to include specialty and limited-batch versions of Odd Breed Wild Ales produced for the taproom: their core beers aged with double the fruit, dry-hopped, or bottled from a single, unblended barrel, Manthe says, and longer-aged beers will become available in 2018 to 2019.
Last month, Odd Breed also launched a unique membership program, the first edition of its rare-bottle club. The brewery is offering 350 memberships for $300 per person and plans to launch the club on the brewery's opening day. The fee includes bomber bottles of member-exclusive beers; early access to bottle releases online; invitations to special brewer meet-and-greets and members-only events; a two-piece premium club glass set and T-shirt; and a first right of refusal on 2018 memberships, among other perks.
According to Naumko, proceeds from membership fees will go toward covering the costs of producing the beer for the club, as well as funding the brewery's remaining construction expenses for the facility opening at 50 NE First St. in Pompano Beach.
Until the grand opening is announced later this spring, find Odd Breed Wild Ales pouring at upcoming events such as Boxelder's second anniversary this Saturday, March 4, and Barrel of Monks' second anniversary Saturday, March 25.
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