Alchemist

Welcome to the Cult

Care for a glass of nice, cold Kool-Aid?

Today, I'm touching on the subject of cults. Instead of the Jonestown–David Koresh corner of this conversation, I'm more concerned with beer—that is, rare beer that people crave beyond all common sense. Three Floyds Dark Lord, the Bruery Black Tuesday, Russian River Pliny the Elder and Younger: Beer geeks would gladly give at least a piece of their pinkie for an unlimited supply of these limited-supply beers, which are often sold for exorbitant sums on eBay.

From the lambics of Cantillon to the Alchemist's insanely hoppy Heady Topper, I'm in the process of compiling a list of the rare brews that cause drinkers to go gaga. And I need your help. Which beers do you see as being the rarest, most irrationally—or rationally, if the brew is really, really good—craved ales and lagers on the market?

Craft Beers Worth Traveling For

As a die-hard beer drinker, I suffer from an affliction dubbed “the pint is always better on the other side of the country.” Though my Brooklyn hometown is lousy with lovely craft beers such as Cigar City’s mango-hinted Jai Alai IPA, Sixpoint’s bracing Crisp lager and Firestone Walker’s balanced, citrusy Union Jack IPA, there are hundreds of brews I’d sacrifice a pinkie to sip every day. To ensure a steady supply of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, I’d even up the ante to two fingers. Yet amputation is not enough to sway brewers’ allocation plans. While some breweries such as Sierra Nevada, Rogue and Stone distribute their suds from coast to coast, they’re the exception to the rule. In recent months, well-regarded breweries counting Dogfish Head and Flying Dog have reined in their distribution and pulled out of states, leaving drinkers high and dry. This is not a comment on quality; instead, breweries are experiencing skyrocketing local demand. Instead of sending beer to far-flung lands, they’re focusing on slaking local thirst. I understand that you must take care of your own first, but that doesn’t make the reality any easier to stomach. Some breweries, such as Vermont's Alchemist and Wisconsin's New Glarus, require that you visit them tor their home state get a taste of their delicious nectar.

Which ones are worthy of your travel time? Check out my full story at Food Republic to weigh in.