Saturday morning our alarms blared at 4:45am.
We quickly got dressed and loaded up the car with our small over-night bags, Ziggy and a bag full of snacks.
We stopped at Starbucks for a much needed triple-grande-soy-latte and headed North.
We arrived in the town of Kernville, CA at 8:20am or so and made our way to Kern River Brewing Company. They were releasing their award-wining Citra Double IPA and were allocating 6 bottles of beer (per person) for the first 70 people in line (they had 35 cases of the beer on available on Friday, 35 more on Saturday, and a last 35 on Sunday morning).
We pulled into the parking lot right at 8:30am to find that we were too late. There were already TONS of people camped outside the KRBC entrance and the KRBC president, Eric, came to tell us the bad news: “all of the beer tickets have been allocated, we reached our 70 person max about an hour ago”.
Bummed, but not devestated, we asked Eric for a breakfast recommendation and we headed to this tiny, small-town diner called The Cracked Egg. We had a leisurely breakfast on their [dog friendly!] patio and drank even more coffee. After breakfast we wandered around “downtown Kernville” for a bit and then decided to drive around and explore the vast area of the Southern Sierra Mountains.
We arrived back at the brewery at 11am and found that the line had grown, but now it was full of people wanting to enjoy a beer and have some lunch when they opened their doors at 11:30am (the bottles had been allocated, but there was still plenty available on draft). We jumped in line and within 40 minutes or so we were out on the patio, beers in hand, mingling with fellow craft beer enthusiasts.
The afternoon was spent drinking Citra by the pint for hours and hours on end. We met some wonderful people, developed new friendships, talked about food, life, and how everyone came to love craft beer. We had a fabulous day.
Around 6pm our new-found friends had to get back on the road (they had a designated driver, dont worry!) and Aaron and I ordered a little something to eat before heading to the River View Lodge (which is dog friendly!) for the night. We fell asleep around 8:30pm or so… early I know. But between the lack of sleep, early wake up, 3 hour drive and many, many pints of beer; there was no way we could stay up any longer.
Sunday morning we woke up [slightly hungover] at 4:45am and finally got ourselves out of bed at 5am.
That’s right, we were headed back to KRBC to try again to get bottles of this beloved beer.
We slowly got up, got ready, and made our way down the street to the brewery. By the time we finally arrived it was a few minutes before 6am. We got our spots in line and found out we were numbers 21 & 22! It was looking pretty good that we would be heading back to LA with 12 bottles of Citra.
The next 5.5 hours were spent meeting more fellow beer fanatics, drinking coffee, laughing, complaining of hangovers, and eating breakfast burritos that were made at the market across the street. Yet again, we met some amazing people and formed some new friendships. Around 8am or so Eric (the president of KRBC, that we had talked to the previous morning) came around with a clipboard and started taking names down for the bottles of beer. By that time Aaron and I were numbers 23 & 24 (a group in front of us had a couple of friends join them). Right after we got our names on the clipboard (indicating we were essentially guaranteed beer; we just had to wait around until they opened) a few of our new friends started pulling out some beers and we participated in a small celebratory breakfast bottle-share.
Now, if you arent a beer snob fanatic, then this list of beers may not seem that impressive to you.
But let me tell you, having all of these beers in the same location at the same time is a HUGE deal.
These are some of the most sought out beers [IPA’s specifically] in the US.
We had (from left to right):
Citra- Kern River Brewing Company (Kernville, CA) — this one was purchased the morning before by one of our new friends
Hopslam- Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI)
Pliny the Elder- Russian River Brewing (Santa Rosa, CA)
Zombie Dust- Three Floyds Brewing (Munster, IN)
Heady Topper- Alchemist Brewing (Waterbury, VT)
I realize I sound like a crazy-person when it comes to this.. but just trust me that if you are a beer snob, beer nerd, craft beer fanatic, etc … then it all makes sense 🙂
We had a great time enjoying these beers while standing outside in the beautiful weather waiting for 11:30am to roll around.
At 10:30am Eric came back out with his clipboard and started going down the list again, everyone who was on the list and still outside (some people actually left?) then he gave you a ticket stating that you could purchase 6 bottles of Citra.
Aaron and I got our tickets and at 11:30am. We got our 6 bottles each, a growler of their Just Outstanding IPA, loaded up the car, and headed back home.
We made it back home just in time to unload the car and shower before the Super Bowl game started.
But we also took a few moments to unload our goodies and just admire them. 2 days, 6 hours of driving, and lots of time standing in line later we had our beer!
My brother drove up from Irvine to watch the game and share the growler of Just Outstanding with us.
We watched the game (Aaron is a 49’ers fan, so he wasnt too happy with the way the game ended) ate some homemade salsa and guacamole, sipped on the beers that we worked so hard to get, and once the game was over my brother headed back home (with 2 bottles of Citra in hand) and Aaron and I headed to bed.
It was a fabulous, exhausting and fun weekend that was worth every mile driven and every hour in line.
I’m so grateful that I have people to share my love of craft beer with!
We will definitely be back to Kern River Brewing Co soon… and we may not even wait until the next Citra release.
Thank you Kernville for being so dog friendly.