OT: Slow Morning Question: Best Way to Locate Rare Beer?

Submitted by WichitanWolverine on December 6th, 2018 at 9:47 AM

Slow morning so I thought I'd seek out some help. Long story short I'm looking to find some Pliny the Elder in the Denver area (via store, not restaurant). I have the Untappd and Taphunter apps but feel like it's still a crap shoot trying to locate some.

Does anyone have any better suggestions on how to find rare beers?



December 6th, 2018 at 9:53 AM ^

Sometimes hobos make this rare beer under this bridge near my place. It's usually warm and kinda fizzy, but otherwise goes down smooth. They won't let you see the bottling process though.


December 6th, 2018 at 9:54 AM ^

The most consistent way I've been able to do it is to find a local vendor (grocery store, liquor store, etc.) that you know gets shipments of the rare stuff.  Then become a loyal customer.  Make other purchases there.  Chat up the owner or beer/wine department head, etc.  I've had really good luck that way, not only for beer, but for rare bourbons and scotches.  One more thing: are you sure Russian River ships to CO?  

And, if you're really nuts like me, you can always make a pilgramage.  I went all the way to Amsterdam to get my hands on some Westvleteren 12.

UM in NC

December 6th, 2018 at 10:47 AM ^

Second the comment on St. Bernardus 12.  I used to live in Belgium and at the time, Westvleteren Abbey had a hotline that you could call to find out when the next batch was coming out.  You used the hotline to enter a lottery and if selected you drove to the abbey to pick up a 2 case max purchase at cost (about a euro per bottle).  Not sure if they still do it that way but that could be another crazy pilgrimage for you


December 6th, 2018 at 9:55 AM ^

Call the brewery and find out if and who distributes Pliny in the Denver area. The distributor should be able to help. Or just google who sells it in Denver 

The Maizer

December 6th, 2018 at 10:36 AM ^

Try the liquor stores' social media. A couple bottle shops in Ann Arbor show the new beers they've shelved nearly every day on Facebook (e.g. Bluefront).

And have you had Pliny the Elder? I think it's significantly overhyped. It's a great beer, but there are better IPAs you can get in the Denver area (Weldwerks and Melvin both make several that are superior).


December 6th, 2018 at 11:08 AM ^

My wife and I did a road trip from our home in Oregon out to Denver and back earlier this year, and I made sure we had a stop in Jackson Hole just to go to Melvin's brewpub (which also makes incredible Thai food). We also made the stop just down the road in Alpine at their insanely beautiful brewery/taphouse location.

I've been to many, many breweries, and tons of brew festivals, and countless taphouses and bars with 20+ IPAs available, and I still haven't found a brewery that does imperial/double IPAs even remotely as well across the board as Melvin does.


December 6th, 2018 at 9:55 AM ^

I've had this same problem in the past, but one of the best ways I've found is to actually go to the brewery website. Doing a quick search for the beer you mentioned, they have a whole directory of the stores that sell their brews. 



December 6th, 2018 at 9:59 AM ^

In general, make friends with your local store.  It doesn't have to be the highbrow beer store, it can be your neighborhood chain grocer; the grocer isn't as concerned about how much money you're spending on beer every week.  Ask them if they can get things, or if you know something is coming out, give them a heads up a few weeks out and ask if they're getting it, and if so, they could save you some.  I've found that even if they aren't beer fans themselves, if you're nice they'll ask their rep if they can get some.  This won't get you things that are brewery-only, but should cover pretty much anything that sees distribution.

With Pliny in particular, good luck.  They distribute to CA and Philly, that's it, from what I know.  If you're willing to trade someone from those areas, check out some of the beer trading forums on facebook, either national groups or local (try searching for Sacramento Beer as an example for a group in the Russian River distribution area).  Denver beer, especially things like WeldWorks, Casey, Black Project, etc. carries a lot of value in trades.


December 6th, 2018 at 10:19 AM ^

Came here to mention trading. There are a lot of "enthusiasts" who regularly trade and ship beer all over the country. You can find groups on Facebook that are local, regional, and I'm sure there are probably a few national ones as well. Even if you don't have anything to trade, good chance you will find somebody who is willing to obtain and ship for you. I think a lot of people who aren't into this would be surprised how easy it can be to get some rare beers this way.

You will pay a little bit of a premium because of shipping costs on top of the cost of the beer itself, but it is honestly a really good way to get your hands on some beers you otherwise wouldn't be able to, and you can make some new friends across the country without ever leaving home as well.


December 6th, 2018 at 11:43 AM ^

Heartily second the recommendation on the grocers.

They're surprisingly willing to take time to talk about it and are pretty informative,  The head guy for the Busch's in Saline was awesome and full of recommendations, BUT he was mostly focused on Michigan beers(which for me was fantastic and frankly, Michigan beers cover a lot of ground). 

The bartender at the Kroger's in the town I live in now is really helpful for what he can get in Tennessee.  



December 6th, 2018 at 9:59 AM ^

The best way to find rare beers is twitter. Follow the local bottle shops and beer bars and they will tweet the arrival of rare beers. Following local bars and shops on twitter works much better than Taphunter and Untapped because once someone posts on those sites the beer is usually gone. These beers do not last more than a few hours or days.

Pliny the Elder is pretty rare in bottles. It is probably easier to find on draft. I don't know if it is regularly distributed in Denver but it is then select bottle shops will get it and likely sell out immediately--that day. It is very unlikely you will find it on the shelves. I think that Pliny releases on a certain day every month or few months. That of course depends on the area. You would have to do some research to find that out.

Here is the best long term strategy if you need bottles. Figure out the beer expert/buyer at good local bottle shops. Ask that person (a regular employee will not likely be helpful and may give you the wrong information) if they ever get Pliny and pick their brain for when it arrives, how they advertise it etc.

If draft is fine then Falling Rock in Denver is one of the best beer bars in the world. They get Russian River beers. I have had Pliny there as well as rarer stuff from Russian River. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with Denver area bottle shops.


December 6th, 2018 at 10:01 AM ^

Wish we could get some to try here in Michigan too.

If anyone would like to ship some up I'd be happy to return the favor with rare Michigan beers!

P.S. did you hear that Founders will now be brewing g All Day IPA out in Colorado so it's fresher for the West Coast

the real hail_yes

December 6th, 2018 at 10:10 AM ^

If you're on facebook you should search for local craft beer/trading groups... Pliny isn't that hard to come by if you have something desirable to trade or are just willing to pay a premium over retail and maybe shipping.


December 6th, 2018 at 10:13 AM ^

In addition to befriending your local liquor store workers / owner as many others have said, I have also had success with beermenus.com.  You can set up alerts for breweries or even specific beers within X miles of your location.


December 6th, 2018 at 10:25 AM ^

Go to their website and hopefully they have a list of distributors.

I had this issue with Guavaberry liqueur that's made only in Saint Marteen.  I was able to find a list of distributors and stores that were carrying it.

Same issue with a Trinidadian rum.  Went to their website and found their distribution list.  After some searching, I found out that A&L carries Angostura rum.


December 6th, 2018 at 10:36 AM ^

Tipsy's off of C-470 near Ken Caryl Ranch. They have a cold cellar room for rare beers. They even have a more secrety "beer cabinet" where they keep those bottles. I also don't think they advertise it unless someone asks. 


December 6th, 2018 at 10:42 AM ^

this is a fantastic thread.  here are some thoughts covering the OP and some of the replies preceding mine.

- i find the best way to find rare beer is through the ratebeer app and the beerbuddy app (which is powered by ratebeer).  i use the beerbuddy app ratings (which i think are more precise than those on ratebeer) to identify beer that i want to locate.  then i use the brewery and store function on ratebeer to track the beers down.

- there was a time when i hunted down pliny the elder.  sorry to spoil it for you, but pliny the elder is great, but it isn't going to change your life or anything.  the harder and better pliny beer to track down is pliny the younger.  it comes out in february.  you'll probably have to be in CA to get it.  another way to get either of them is to have someone send it to you from CA.  find a high-end beer shop in CA, call them and tell them you're willing to pay to have them ship beer to you.  assuming there is no CO law preventing them from doing so, most places will take a few extra bucks to ship to you.

- another method is to locate a great beer store near you and talk to the owners.  i have one near me (i'm in NY) and they'll tell me what they can get, and if they can't get something where the closest place to get it is.  they can also help you find really high rated beers you might be unaware of.  they also know owners in other states who will ship things if you ask nicely.

- there are some other tough to find brewers that i would target if i were you.  toppling goliath and three floyds come to mind.  those are easier to get in the midwest.  as with most breweries, go onto their website and check out their distribution network.  that will show you states (and in many cases stores) that distribute their beers.  some other really great breweries you should go after if you can:

  • maine
  • alesmith
  • mikkeller
  • cigar city
  • hill farmstead
  • funky budha
  • stone

- there are also some easy to find brewers that make certain beers that can be hard to find.  but finding a good beer shop should enable you to find these.  these include beers like:

  • founders KBS and CBS
  • some bell's (black note stout, expedition stout, etc.)
  • ommegang (some of the game of thrones series, hennepin, anniversary ales, etc.)
  • some firestone walker beers