Saturdays usually start with an internal battle deciding whether to get out of bed or not. This fight is rarely fought before 8 am and coffee is primarily the deciding factor. So, when I found myself awake at 6 am contemplating driving to a Beer Release knowing I would wait in line for a few 4-packs of cans, I figured that the silly thought would pass and this fight wouldn’t last long … I would go back to sleep and wait for the coffee alarm to ring.
As I was driving to the brewery I was still trying to talk myself out of going. It’s hot and humid, I don’t want to stand in line with a bunch of strangers, likely I’m too late and will be next in line when the beer runs out and there are more bar stools than parking spaces … that is not an exaggeration. I’d never had this beer or any of the other DIPA’s they offered so here I was already faintly committed, despite the chance that I might not even like this beer.
Wren House Brewing is actually located in a house and it might be smaller than your own. The brew-house is technically the garage. This means you can have a beer by the fireplace and it truly feels like home; it’s cozy, welcoming and charming. If you can’t start a conversation with the staff or other patrons then you just might be a mushroom.
As stated before the parking is terrible. There are 4 spots in front of the house and 10 more in what feels like an impound lot. Best bet for parking is to find the off hours, carpool or use one of the ride-sharing apps. There is also the option of parking down the street and having yourself a nice walk. Beer has a lot of calories so burn a few on the way in! The beer is worth it. I have yet to have one there that I haven’t liked.
The beers are flavorful, smooth and come in a great variety of combinations. Wren House is not afraid to try different things. Their Night on the Sun Sour is fantastic and the Peaches & Cream IPA was amazing; I was lucky enough to get some of the last cans before they ran out. That time I was still well within the Arizona speed laws of reasonable and prudent when I saw they had some left. Wren House doesn’t serve food but like most places, you’re more than welcome to bring your own. But, honestly, the beer is so good here that food has never once crossed my mind while visiting.
Hey! I think that counts as a review.
Get yourself a Growler from Wren house.
If you’re not familiar with my rating system, go check out my Highly Overrated blog post. Just a heads up – that’s the title, not a description of the blog.
I have never been to a beer release —- I didn’t know what to expect. The extent of my knowledge was based on photos and videos that are trying to convey the size of the line. Most of these are from California and there is no comparing Arizona to that madhouse. Two to three hundred people in line for a beer???? That’s crazy, this isn’t a concert!
Seeing as I had no idea how early to arrive to get in line and as I was limited by the last minute decision to attend, that still put me about tenth in line and I arrived 40 minutes before the special 8 am opening. Turns out it was perfect timing, almost everyone in front of me had folding chairs – the type you take camping. This type of dedication would required me to get up a hell of a lot earlier to beat them. It also gave me some slight relief that I wasn’t a fool … no more fears of walking up to an empty lot to stand all by my lonesome.
Within a few minutes the line quickly grew behind me and started to wrap around the adjacent building. The door opened promptly at eight and I was inside by 8:04. I had my cans and a beer from the bar by 8:15. At 8:30 the bar was full and there was still a steady line out the door, the place was alive. Kudos to Wren House for their organization! The cans were setup near the entrance away from the bar which made it a tough decision. Do I grab my loot and go or instead head to the bar, find a seat and enjoy a beer…or two.
I had skipped my morning coffee so it was an easy decision and a fair trade. Although the brewery was crowded, the event ran smooth and they had plenty of staff to handle the crowd. Even at the height of the commotion it only took a few minutes to get a beer. Most of the issues came from people trying to juggle their cans and a glass of beer. You’ll never see more intense concentration.
Then it was over.
The crowd thinned, the line was gone and there were still plenty of cans to be had. By 9:15 you could have walked in grabbed your can limit and sat down with a beer, zero waiting involved. That’s the gamble, though, especially right now in Arizona; it’s hard to tell how many people are going to come out for these releases. Even the super popular Arizona Wilderness release events can produce low turnouts. That’s not a negative thing, there is just so much good beer to choose from a lot of people don’t feel the need right now to wait in line. With so many new breweries I feel people are still trying out new places and new beer. Add in the factor that a lot of these releases are available on tap sometimes the day(s) before the can or bottle release, which means you can taste before committing to the can.
So for a moment I felt silly and then came the self reflection, had I wasted my morning? Was this beer even any good? Why did I buy the limit? Who cares! It was fun!
There were lots of people who had given up much more than a cup of overpriced coffee to be there. I heard from a few people who had skipped their morning workout. There may have been a few people who planned to grab some cans then go workout but the bar was an atmosphere too compelling. The guy next to me in line had made a five mile bike trip to the brewery his workout, but, sadly I think he sacrificed the most because his pack limited how much beer he could carry home. I spoke to another person who left work to be there! Some were there to buy a single four pack while some brought friends and family so they could get more. There were people there who were buying beer to trade. And you could tell the regulars who go to every release they can. Dozens of different stories and hearing them was what really made the event worth it. I got to meet another member of the Hoppycraftsmen podcast. FYI – I swear I’m not stalking them so there is no reason to look in the background of their pictures anymore.
I am a huge fan of drinking beer in a brewery setting but sharing this by the pool, with a friend or your significant other while quietly discussing the day is a hard experience to beat. So, I completely understand why people line up. My only problem, now, is trying to figure out is how to make these cans last. Maybe I will go to a few more releases, you know, for research purposes.
It’s true, I don’t know how many more releases I will go to, but, I was glad that I went to this one. Even though The Dankworth with Galaxy “juicy” Double IPA was still available several days later it was worth losing sleep over. Every time I take a drink and can’t help but to pause and appreciate the work of the brewer.
I saved the reveal of the beer being released so that you would read to the end. Clever writing or…maybe I forgot and couldn’t be bothered to squeeze it in somewhere else. We may never know.
Actually … I know … but I won’t tell.