Pliny the Younger is a rare beer that ranks very highly on most peoples list and causes something of a stir when it gets released. Bars usually like to Tweet or Facebook messages that a certain beer has arrived to drive business, but in PtY’s case demand far outstrips supply and it usually leads to a massive headache fielding tons of requests for a beer that can sell out in minutes. This also can cause issue with regulars who may miss out on a rare beer because they simply weren’t fast enough to beat the fanatics.
A Portland based bar has decided to deal with this problem by covertly placing it on their menu under the guise of a different beer. In this case it was Miller’s High Life, which doesn’t get anyone but the bluest of collars excited. Sharp-eyed patron were sure to spot the price disparity, as the bar was charging $7 for a 12oz pour, a price most people in their right mind would never pay for a High Life, as well as a disclaimer stating that no patrons were allowed to tweet about the beer they received.
A blog post for the San Francisco area is heralding a move by a Portland, Oregon bar as “genius”. That term may be relative, especially to those missing out. This move brings up many moral debates and legality issues. There are laws in place that disallow a business to market a product as something else, even if the consumer makes out in the end. Many people would like to side with the bar, as evidenced by this BeerAdvocate thread, because broadcasting loudly about a product that is in very limited supply can lead to a whole mass of other issues besides someone not getting a beer they wanted.
Is the bar justified in covertly offering the beer? Should bars or retailers watch the backs of their regular customers rather than letting laissez-faire run rampant? If you were a bar owner, would you not even try to participate in a rare beer offering for fear of the hysteria such a beer would produce? Hop Slam was a beer that saw limited supply in our area and I saw many a tired look in the eyes of the store owners who were getting fed-up fielding questions by people asking about a beer that knew they were not going to sell nearly as much as they would like to.
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