This past weekend, as a last hurrah before busy season I decided to make the trek out to Williamsport, PA for the Bullfrog bottle release with two buddies of mine Since we made the decision late in the game, hotels were booked, but figured we could rough it, sleep in the car…however we had no idea what we were about to become a part of.
We got to Bullfrog around 1am for a 9am release, not expecting more than five people max there, however when we arrived, there was already a hundred people in line…and from there our plan went down the drain. Sleep for me at least was out of the question.
Going into the release, we were told bottle shares outside were off limits since we were right near a police station. Every few minutes a new police car would drive by, slowing down as the passed our line of desperate beer nerds, watching our next move. Every minute that went by, I got more of an itch to crack open one of the bottles I brought with me, I knew sleep was not in the cards for the night and I needed something to pass the time. Eventually, the owner spoke to the cops, letting them know that we brought beer, but nothing crazy was going to happen, and from there it was fair game.
What made this release special was I was finally able to not only catch up with a beer buddy I met at the Kuhnhenn Octoberfest, but I finally met one of my beer buddies I had kept in touch with since our initial trade last year. If I thought my 3.5 hour ride to Williamsport was bad, I was being a little bit of a drama queen. They made the trek all the way from Michigan. When they first told me they were going to be at Bullfrog, I thought it was nothing more than a joke, as they mentioned they were on a mission to drive down at the night before, grab their beers, and head back to Michigan the following afternoon.
Now back to the event. One of the key things that made this event worthwhile was the share the night before. I know some crazy shit was opened the following day at the brewery, but the share the night before to the wee hours the following morning was what made the event for me. One by one, people on line began opening bottles they trekked with them to the share, walking around the line and offering pours of their gems to individuals that were utter strangers. At one point, around 7am, one of my buddies who managed to get a few hours of shut-eye in the car woke up to see me walking around the line with a random can of Carton Boat Beer, asking me “are you seriously still drinking?” The awesome vibe of the share carried me through the next day, as I was walking around like I just woke up….kinda….despite the fact that any time I stopped moving I started to fall asleep.
Eventually 9am came and guess what….we waited some more. The line moved pretty much as slow as possible, as it took almost another two hours to actually make it inside to get our allotments. On top of that, the two Grrrz beers Bullfrog had on tap kicked before we got a single pour, which was absurd and pissed the heck out of me. I came into the bar to see everyone there have multiple pours of both variants. The fact that they chose not limit the number of pours, or the size of the pours baffled me. The whole time going into the event my buddies and I talked about how awesome it was we were going to get to try the Apricot , which was hailed to be a “white-whale,” so this really was a disappointment. It wasn’t like we were in the back of the line, we were in the first 20-25% of the line. There is no reason for both kegs to be kicked already.
In the end, how would I rate this event? I think a minor success. There are definitely areas of improvement for going forward. Perhaps a ticket system where everyone in line at a certain time gets a ticket and can come back later that day to pick up there bottles, similar to how Lawson’s does their releases. Perhaps smaller pours of beer, and try a find a way to let the majority of those in line try the beer on tap. I’m sure there are many other things that could have been differently, but this is a learning experience for Bullfrog, and I would say at the end of the day, it was a success. Everyone got their bottles for the most par, and people made new beer friends through the early morning bottle share, and the share inside the brewery Saturday afternoon. I’m not sure if I would do this release again, but I am glad to knock this one off the list.