The “white whale.” No matter what your hobby or passion of choice is, finding your white whale is typically the culmination of all the efforts you put into the activity you love. A one-of-a-kind coin. A unique fossil. A stamp with Abe Lincoln headbanging. No matter what it is, when you find it, it’s hard to shut down the party in your head.
For craft beer enthusiasts, a white whale typically represents beers rare to our market or no longer in production that one of our brethren sat on for years for us to enjoy at a later date. Sometimes, it’s all about name recognition…i.e., Pliny the Younger, and being able to say, “Yep, I drank that!” Other times, it’s simply something that’s only available in other markets, but made the trek from Point A to Point Pint Glass thanks to someone going the extra mile to make it happen.
On Sunday, June 7th, Hal’s Bottle Shop, located next door to Hal’s Bar & Grill on Babcock Blvd in the North Hills, truly exemplified how they pull off those aforementioned points by kicking off a new tradition that’s sure to make all whale hunters smile. The first-ever Rare Beer Club party came together for an afternoon of fun, food, craft beer enjoyment, and, most importantly, rare craft beer discovery.
Members of this new club were treated to samples of hard-to-find treasures from across the country, as well as some home brews made by Bottle Shop Manager Danny Castriota. There were also opportunities to win gift baskets overflowing with awesome beer! In addition, a solid lineup of beers from Founders Brewing were poured by Pat from Wilson-McGinley and Sam Adams‘ own Andrew was in the house pouring unique Sam offerings.
Without a doubt, Untappd certainly got a workout on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon.
If you’ve read my past articles about Hal’s, you already know my feelings on their bottle shop and the level of care Danny and Hal have put into developing a loyal group of customers who turn to Hal’s for all their six-pack and bomber needs. Up until a few months ago, I used to live down the street from Hal’s, so it easily became my bar and bottle shop of choice. But even though I’ve relocated to a different part of the city, I still make the drive north because I know full well I’ll always be treated well and will always find something unique I won’t find at many other locations. Danny takes the time to learn what his customers like and makes recommendations he know they’ll enjoy. This education is critical for beer drinkers making that transition from macro to craft.
The first party featured rare bottles of Stone Ruination for sale, as well as a few other gems that quickly flew off the shelves and into the possession of the club members. We were also treated to a great-tasting session ale brewed personally by Danny, as well as Arcade Brewery’s Grapefruit IPA and what I’ve deemed the best milk stout I’ve ever experienced, Mad Cow from Revolution Brewing Company.
Those with radars locked on discovering rare beers need to make Hal’s Bottle Shop a must-stop on their travels. The coolers are filled with a massive selection, their weekly Thursday samplings give you an excellent opportunity to discover new beers and breweries, and you’re guaranteed to leave with a six-pack, bomber, or growler of something pretty special every time you visit.
Now, the question you’re probably asking is: How do I join the Rare Beer Club? That’s easy. Just make your way up to Hal’s Bottle Shop and ask for Danny on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. He will give you some background on how you can become part of the Club and start getting your hands on the beers you’ve been clamoring for.
Below are some pics captured at yesterday’s party. If your fridge is running low on the good stuff, it’s time to climb in your car and hit up Hal’s Bottle Shop to replenish the stock!