“What time were you thinking about going up there?” I asked Corey through a Instagram DM.
“3 am?” He quickly shot back.
“I don’t know, maybe we should leave a little earlier. I was thinking around 2:30 at the latest.”
Like that, our plans were set. Corey and myself would be meeting at my apartment in Vista at 2:30 in the morning. Why? Beer. Yes, a limited batch of beer that won’t show up on any liquor store shelf, or even bar will ever have.
Once plans were set in motion, it was like waiting for Christmas Day. The excitement radiating throughout me. “I’m going to be having an incredible beer that barely anyone else will ever even get!” I had pleaded to my wife, and this was my only selling point. Luckily for me, I was able to make the hour long drive north at 2:30 am to wait in line for beer.
THE DAY OF THE RELEASE:
The morning had finally come. I barely slept that night. Wondering how it was going to be. What were we supposed to do for over 6 hours? What about breakfast? Is there a bathroom near by?? So many questions and my wandering mind didn’t let up. Come 2:00 am, my alarm starts to go off.
“Are you serious right now?” Asking myself as I turn the alarm off, not to wake my wife. Almost trying to talk myself out of what I was about to do. But, I had a friend with me who shares a similar passion for the best beer, and I couldn’t let him down. So, i’m dressed and packed with a cooler bag full of snacks prepared the night before by my wife. She never lets me go anywhere without snacks. They most definitely came in handy later in the morning.
Finally meeting around 2:25 am, Corey unloads his gear and we quickly get it in my car and we’re on the road by 2:30 am.
At this point my adreniline is pumping so hard that I can’t even tell if i’m tired or not. It is smooth sailing on I-5 North at this hour. Only detour we had was a quick coffee and gas-fill at the Chevron in San Clemente. The car ride up went by incredibly quick. Not the speed in which I was driving but the conversation of what was expected today made it feel like it was only 30 minutes away, and around 3:20 a.m. we had made the 83 mile journey to Torrance, CA.
ARRIVING AT MONKISH:
“Did you see that line all ready?!” Corey exclaims as we make the first pass by looking for parking. We were most certainly NOT the only ones looking to be here at Monkish Brewing as early as possible to procure our allotment. There we easily 150 – 175 people waiting in line by the time we got there. I was in disbelief. Automatically thoughts come to my mind that I’m only getting 8 beers. Doing the math, and coming to the conclusion that I might be waiting here for over 6 hours for only 8 beers.
Time passes by quickly when the anticipation is so high. Soon enough it was 6:30 am. Hunger is hitting both of us pretty hard about now. Since this was my first time at Monkish, I didn’t know the protocol for local eats. Luckily, right behind the brewery is an amazing spot that had one of the best breakfast burritos. Maybe it was due to overwhelming hunger, but regardless, it re-engergized us both, and soon the drowsiness had converted back to excitement.
The sun had just started to come out. You could start to make out the faces of people, who all shared a common bond in their love for beer. All ages, races, and even four-legged friends were all in line together. Children sleeping in their strollers, wives who were talked into “muling” for their significant others so that they could secure that extra allotment. The later I’m not too sure my wife would be on board with. Alas, that is another conversation in itself. The common dominator for us all was getting what we all believe is the best beer in the state of California.
THE LINE SHARE:
Now, this part of the experience is frowned upon by most breweries. Alcohol isn’t permitted outside of any brewery. Most definitely isn’t allowed to be consumed in the parking lot of one either. But, it is inevitable. It’s going to happen regardless of what brewery is having a can release. You have hundreds of beer drinkers sitting in line for beer, you can bet some drinking is going to happen while you are waiting for over 5 or 6 hours. No one was looking to get smashed just to enjoy the craft with other craft lovers. Like bottle shares that happen all the time, people are bringing out their best beers they’ve come across to share with friends who have joined in the release. I met a lot of really great people just in this line alone. I was able to have multiple breweries that I hadn’t been able to enjoy yet, and have great conversations with the people sharing them. I even brought my own as well to return the favor. It’s just how these things work I was told. Just as long as you don’t be an ass, or leave your trash anywhere.
“Henry’s handing out the wristband’s now!” I overheard someone say. These wristbands guarantee you to full allotment you are able to purchase. They differ with each release. If you received a wristband this morning, you were guaranteed 14 beers, if we had been in line later we may have only been guaranteed 6. So, after receiving my wristband I was feeling better about the entire journey leading up to now. It only took about 45 minutes from opening at 9:45 am, to get our beer. Corey and I were so pumped! What we were carrying back to my car was more valuable than gold.
After putting our precious cargo into our respective coolers, we made our way back to the brewery. Why? Because they had another brewery only beer on tap, as well as one of the one’s they had just released for everyone to get a chance to try it.
The first sip made the entire trip worth it. That may be hard for some to comprehend, but to beer nerds like myself, this was so worth it. The hour drive at 2:30 am, sitting in line for 6 and a half hours, getting a little buzzed sharing beers with friends in line. It all culminated to this. Enjoying the craft that Monkish Brewing is making for the masses.
Just look at it! These are the juiciest beers being made in California. I would go as far as to say that this is the best beer in the country.
Will I be back at a can release in the future? Absolutely. This beer is on another level. It will not be in any liquor store any time soon, and for that I support Monkish Brewing. I will support any local brewery who is going against the grain and tradition of typical “West Coast Beers.” It’s new, it’s exciting and it’s bringing people together more than any bar or tavern has or will do. I’m excited to get together with the people I met in line, and do it all over again.