Why I Wasn't at Goose Island Rare Day

Why I Wasn't at Goose Island Rare Day
Rare Bourbon County Stout

Okay, I had a cheap SEO headline in an attempt to grab cheap clicks. But now that you're here, come read this little story.

In October, Goose Island Beer Co. opened a lottery for its 2015 Rare Day. This wasn't to win tickets to the event itself, but to "win" the privilege of paying $40 to attend Rare Day, being held today, November 13, at the Goose's Barrel House. From there, you could shuttle to their brewery tap room on Fulton St. for the chance to purchase three bottles of Bourbon County Stout Rare. This is only the second release in the "Rare" line, in this case, a batch of Bourbon County Stout aged two years in a group of Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels that had sat empty for 35 years. The cost of this rarity? $60 per half-liter (16.9 oz.) bottle.

I wrote a bit about the "lottery" in a previous Beeronaut article. I made a somewhat half-hearted complaint about the cost of this release, coming to $4.34 per ounce once the cost of the event is factored in. The story itself seems pretty popular: it turns up near the top of a Google search for "goose island rare lottery," or maybe that's only because I'm searching when signed in to my Google account. But it has gotten over 2,400 page views, someone else posted the article to Reddit, and the article still gets spam Facebook comments. Sorry about that last part; I am trying to stay diligent in flagging those comments and finding keywords to keep them from posting in the first place.

So in the midst of writing the article, I tried signing up for the lottery myself. The rules were that you enter your name and email once per day. I entered only once, to see if the system was working all right.

The first winners were notified on October 13. Immediately there was a problem in that Goose Island notified winners by email, with a unique coded URL to buy their event tickets. One winner posted his URL on his social media accounts, and 100 of his friends used it to buy their tickets before the duplication was discovered, according to Josh Noel.

But otherwise, the first round of drawing winners was notified. No doubt almost all of them signed up for their tickets. But enough passed up that Goose had a second drawing. So a day or two after the first drawing, I got an email announcing that I had won a Second Chance drawing.

That's right. One entry, and I win on a second chance drawing. If only the Multi-State lottery worked for me the same way.

I had already worked out the math of the event, of course. All I needed was to find someone to buy the bottles from me at $74 to break even. But I had won the right to buy two tickets to the event, each with the right to buy three bottles. I asked around on some of the beer fan mailing lists and easily found people who would be willing to pay for both tickets and buy my allotment from me.

So far, so good. After all, the Rare Day festivities would include tickets for tasting the Rare itself, and a few other BCS's that I might have missed before.

But there was a further fly in the ointment. If Rare Day were on a Saturday, I could attend, no problem. But instead, it was on Friday the 13th. That meant I would have to take off a day from work to attend.

Now I had just this summer gotten full-time work after a longer layoff than I care to discuss. And while my co-workers and managers are impressed by my beer knowledge, it probably would not go well to say I wanted the day off to go drinking.

Now I needed to make up a day's wages somehow. And that would have been to sell my allotted three bottles for $135 apiece.

I had planned to simply have a good time and sell some sought after-bottles at the prevailing price and cover my expenses. But now I would have to exploit some bidders wanting to spend too much money to get what we beer geeks call "whales." My local listserv correspondents properly called me out for contemplating the activity was all abhor (but there is also some unhappiness at the existence of a $60 beer in the first place). The prospect of anyone willing to pay the price I needed seemed very dim. And selling online is always risky, and slightly against the rules.

I had hoped I could pass on my chance to buy tickets to a deserving reader (which is all of you, of course). I checked with Goose Island to see if I could exercise whatever prerogative I have as a beer blogger. But no such luck the tickets are non-transferable. If I had gone, whoever got my other ticket would have had to go with me. My company is the price you'd have to pay.

So I couldn't be a bad guy about the event, but neither could I be a good guy. Weighing in, as well, the fact that I would likely need a ride from the Near North Side to my train. I just could not make a go if it. I allowed the ticket buying deadline to pass, and hoped that whoever got my Third Chance drawing could use it in good health.

I will regret not having had a chance to sample this rare concoction, but if a taste is meant to come my way, it will. Meantime, enjoy Josh Noel's Twitter feed about Rare Day at his Tribune site.

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    Mark McDermott

    Writer, trivia maven, fan of many things. I thought to learn all there is to know about beer as a way to stay interested in learning. It is my pleasure to bring Chicago's craft beer scene to you.

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