Have you ever pursued a beer for years, only to find that when you actually landed it, your joy was somewhat diminished? I have, and here’s the story about it…
First off, let’s set the record straight. As beer drinkers, we all have that unofficial list of brews in our mind that we’d love to get our hands on. That hoppy IPA from a brewery far away, that stout that slips from our grasp more times that we can count, or that limited run of anything in-between, but there never being enough to satisfy everyone. Sure, we’ve all been there. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about your other list of beers.
If you’re like me with an Untappd account, this list is a tangible one that you see pop up on your home screen every time the app is open. It’s a list among the lists. In fact, one could argue that it’s the only list that matters. Scoring beers on this list are nothing short of a pipe dream, a rare possibility that only seems to occur when the planets align correctly or when enough money is shelled out. I personally don’t even add beers to this list unless I know they’re going to be difficult to get, ensuring for me that the “Wish List” is like my own personal “Make-a-Wish” foundation that grants requests every couple years or so. These are the true white whale beers, and every serious craft drinker has them on their own personal bucket lists.
Over the past few years, I’ve gone out of my way to score a few from my list. Maine Dinner. 3 Floyd’s Dark Lord. Bell’s Black Note. Sam Adam’s Utopia. Burnt Hickory’s Charred Walls of the Damned. Whether by being the beneficiary of someone else who bought them, going in on a purchase together, or buying them myself, they have all become part of liquid history. Crossing them off the list has been weirdly gratifying in a way that only other craft beer people would understand. And sure, something else always gets added to the list, but the pursuit to find these beers has always been what it’s all about. The hard work always seems to pay off.
Enter Canadian Breakfast Stout by Founder’s Brewing Company. For those who know beer, this was virtually unattainable unless you were willing to fork over in excess of $300 for a bottle. A true whale in the pod, this stout only saw a limited production run of bombers in 2011, and a brief resurgence in 2014 on draft only. Few had the opportunity to have it, which made it that much more enticing. I contemplated pulling the trigger on the steep price more than once, just to satisfy my curiosity and finally put to rest the longing for such a gem. However, as a final piece to the barrel-aged series releases of 2017, Founder’s announced that they would be opening the vaults and releasing the long-sought after CBS, causing nothing short of pandemonium and elation among beer fans everywhere. And so, in the first week of December, it hit the shelves. EVERYWHERE. And therein lies the problem.
What problem you ask? Well, let me put it this way. Remember when the Boston Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, putting an end to the seemingly endless streak of not winning one since Babe Ruth got traded? How about the Cubs winning it all in 2016, finally shutting up the people who claimed the curse of the goat was going to keep them from what they had been wanting for the past 108 years? Or what about our own Cleveland Cavs finally taking it all last year? The goal finally achieved, the inevitable question lingers: WHAT NOW??? You see, in some sick and twisted way, I did want the streak of not finding CBS to eventually end, but I wanted it to be elusive enough to merit a feeling of satisfaction when I did. With the floodgates being opened and every Tom, Dick, and Harry being able to get their hands on a bottle, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow had been cheapened. Heck, I was able to get my hands on 4 bottles of it myself, while being in 2 different states during the week it came out. For some reason that I just can’t seem to make sense of, I didn’t want it to end this way.
So, after finally getting to taste a beer that was on my wish list for years, I can say it truly is one of a kind. A beast of a stout brewed with real Canadian maple syrup, it will always hold a special place on my wall of bottles. But I’m always going to wish that it just would have been a bit harder to get there in the first place. And though I may be the only one that will be looking this gift horse in the mouth, I’m OK with that. After all, the wish list goes on…