By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Christopher Elbow and Boulevard Brewing Company churned out even more chocolate ale this year, but the product is impossible to be found at Kansas City area liquor stores.
That has some die-hard fans turning to the internet where sellers can command hefty prices.
The chocolate-favored beer sold for about $15 a bottle, but is now commanding prices of $50 and more on websites like eBay.
"Chocolate Ale is a phenomenon and something we're not use to," said Jeremy Ragonese, director of marketing for the brewery. "It took off and I think Kansas Citians embraced it because of the collaboration."
The companies didn't produce any in 2013 after issues arose with some batches in 2012. Knowing demand would be high, 20,000 gallons headed to stores but it still wasn't enough.
About half of the bottled product went to Kansas City area stores. It's also available on tap, and some establishments still have supply.
You can more readily find it out-of-state such as stores in Lincoln, NE.
Ragonese said Boulevard is quite aware of the high prices on the Internet, and definitely doesn't condone it. He said they want people to pay a "fair price for a great product."
"That's not something we intended," he said. "We would definitely want people to pay what it's appropriately priced at in the market, not what folks think it might be worth."
Selling beer and liquor online without a license is illegal in Missouri and Kansas. But law enforcement agencies are looking to bust people selling online, saying they have more important priorities to focus on.
Michael Ahlers of Smooth Liquors said when purchasing online that problems can arise.
"You don't know who you'll be meeting. You don't know if it's the real product sometimes," Ahlers said.
Ahlers' sold out in an hour last Thursday. Like many stores, he limited his customers to one bottle each in part to help prevent scalping.
Ragonese declined to say if Chocolate Ale will be brewed for Valentine's again next year and how much product would be made.
"Chocolate Ale certainly has captured the imagination," he said. "It became a beer that people really sought after whether it's for the experience or just the idea that it was not widely available. People found that fascinating. It was difficult for us to project how much to make in the first place, and we have our own capacity constraints. We adjust that every year to find out what is the right amount."
He knows interest is high.
"We've seen that thirst for Chocolate Ale continue to grow every year. We will continue to learn from those experiences and get more out there," he said. "This year we made more than ever to meet that demand."
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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