Monday, November 15, 2010

How to get the best out of the case stores

One thing about moving back to Pennsylvania that I dislike, is the case store.  In Baltimore, I would be able to go into Wine Underground, Wine Source or Chesapeake Wine and pick up a six pack, or sometimes just single bottles of the beers that I wanted to try.  Not so in Pennsylvania.  Unless a bar has a carry out license, you cannot buy singles/sixers (there are a few exceptions, but they are very few and far between).

This lead me to buying a case of beer.  Which leads to the question- What beer do I like enough to buy and entire case of?  This was a hard thing to answer.  My tastes can go from saison one day, to stout the next.  IPA to Belgian Dubbel.  Sure, a case of Dale's Pale Ale, Dogfish Head 60 Minute or Troegs Hopback are welcome in my house (I am almost always in the mood for those beers), but I like to experiment and get something different.  This was the internal confrontation that I was dealing with.

In comes the variety case.  The variety case, normally a brewery's main year round beers packaged together (many times it is 4 six packs in a case) gives the buyer the opportunity to sample four different beers in their case.  I have been accustomed to buying the Troeg's Anthology Series (they have 2, one Spring/Summer, one Fall/Winter), Magic Hat's Variety Case with their seasonal Odd Notion mixed in and the Victory variety, but these cases all contain beers that I have had what feels like a million times.

Sitting next to each other on the shelf were the variety cases that I narrowed my choice down to.
1. Bell's Brewery (Kalamazoo, Michigan)- to many beer geeks that live in Pennsylvania, Bell's is a regular find, but you cannot get it in Maryland.  The case includes their Amber Ale, Two Hearted ale, Kalamazoo Stout and Oberon. I have had the Oberon and the Two Hearted previously.  How I explain the Oberon (an American wheat) is like Magic Hat #9, but a million times better- and that is not saying #9 is bad, but Oberon is very good.  Two Hearted ale is a delicious IPA, that any hophead would be happy to drink.
2. Founders (Grand Rapids, Michigan)- like Bell's, Founders can be found in Pennsylvania, but I have not been able to get it in Maryland.  I have had few beers from them, but they too have a great reputation.  Included in their case was Centennial IPA, Pale Ale, Porter, and Breakfast Stout (not the Kentucky or Canadian Breakfast Stout).  I knew the Centennial IPA was a good basic IPA, and the Breakfast Stout was good, but did not know much about the other two.

I ended up purchasing the Bell's.  The huge difference was the range of beers that was offered.  I was able to get a wheat, IPA, amber and stout all in one case.  This should allow me to be satisfied no matter what beer I am looking for.


  1. Seriously, no six packs in PA? Is there a reason for the law that you are aware of?

    It's a good thing you enjoy so many different types of beer and that you still have friends in MD and can buy beer here when you visit.

  2. That is an incredible dilemma to have. I guess I just take for granted the availability to buy singles here in Florida. I remember being frustrated in Baltimore that I could not buy beer in the grocery store . . . can't imagine having to commit to a case at a time!

  3. @Julie- it is a law that goes back to the end of prohibition. I think they thought that making people buy a case would limit how much they would buy?!? I have no clue, it stinks. You can buy from bars with take out licenses, but then you are looking at (at least) $15 six packs.

    @Lucas- in Baltimore you can buy in wine stores, or get six packs at the beer store (and singles). I believe the law in Maryland is left up to the counties, but most do not allow in grocery stores.