How I tracked down those elusive, trophy craft beer “whales”

I jester-king-encendiabagged my first trophy beer completely by accident. It was Westbrook Brewing Company’s Mexican Cake – an annual release that has historically seen people flock from out of state to line up hours before the Charleston, SC brewery opens. This year, seemingly in an effort to avoid that sort of mayhem, the company released the beer with no fanfare, catching many fans off guard.

While some (well, many actually) raged in the online forums – and others shouted triumphantly about finding it in their city – I happened to notice a small sign at my local Total Wine store, acknowledging they had a small amount in stock – one bottle per customer. I grabbed it quickly – with no wait. Less than an hour later, the store had sold out.

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The democratization of craft beer

Craft brewers are members of a fairly inclusive club.

With a handful of exceptions, the players in this field generally enjoy working together, collaborating on special brews and sharing recipes with each other. And that largesse isn’t restricted to the fraternity of professionals. In many cases, brewers are happy to share their secrets with home brewers.

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Tapped In: The state of craft beer in Austin

For attendees at this year’s South by Southwest festival, there was no easier beer to find than Miller Lite. As one of the show’s major sponsors, it was everywhere – and being freely offered every few feet by one company or another.

But savvy beer drinkers at the interactive, film and music festival were sampling — or, in many cases, re-discovering — some of the local brews.

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