A favorite among craft beer drinkers, enthusiasts have been going to extremes to get their hands on Heady Topper, a Vermont-made double IPA, according to Lucky Peach. A black market has developed for the canned beer, with the most loyal Heady Topper drinkers traveling hundreds of miles to stock up, while others pay more than triple the retail price on Craigslist and beer sites.
In December 2013, an attorney was arrested for selling five cases of Heady Topper for $825 (a single case usually retails for $75) to agents from Vermont’s Department of Liquor Control.
Heady Topper is brewed by John and Jen Kimmich of Alchemist Brewery, a family-run operation in Waterbury, Vermont. Back in 2009, their brewery made over 80 beers and churned out Heady Topper periodically. Whenever the beer was available in their taproom, they’d notice people stashing the elusive liquid in bottles while in the bathroom to sell it online to the highest bidder later. After Hurricane Irene destroyed a pub they planned to open in 2011, they decided to dedicate themselves to brewing Heady Topper.
Even after devoting all of their efforts to the one beer and ramping up production significantly — they’ve gone from 1,500 to 9,000 barrels per year — demand is still rising, and beer fanatics continue to go to extreme lengths to get it. The Kimmiches tried running a retail room at the cannery where customers could buy it fresh off the line, but had to shut it down as it caused traffic problems. They tried holding truck sales instead, but couldn’t handle the crowds there, either. “It was a great way for us to see our consumers, sell the beer, make some money,” said Jen. “But they just got too busy. The last one we had was crazy; we had almost 700 people show up for 500 cases of beer.”
The Kimmiches are in the process of opening a bigger facility in Stowe, which will hopefully help keep up with demand. Until then, craft beer lovers will continue to go to great lengths for the unattainable beer. Count yourself lucky if you get your hands on a can. [Lucky Peach][Photo: Flickr/Alan Levine]