Defining the Whale, one rare beer at a time.
Is there a beer you really want to try, but can't find it anywhere? Do you have to trade the five best brews in your cellar to get it? Then it might be a whale you’re hunting for. Welcome to the first installment in Tavour’s new Whale Watching series, wherein we taste some of the world’s most sought-after beers and dive deeper to see what the hype is all about.
What’s with the nautical name? Whale is a term craft fans use to describe a rare, hard-to-find beer with high trade value. The term comes from Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, which follows Captain Ahab on his mission to scour the ends of earth in pursuit of the book’s eponymous white whale.
No life jackets are required, but in order to be classified as a whale by Tavour, a beer must meet the following requirements:
- Name Recognition: It must come from a highly sought-after brewery.
- Hard To Find: Distribution must be extremely limited, most often taproom only.
- High Trade Value: there must be a large number of ISOs (In Search Of) floating around craft beer web forums.
Beyond the first three strict rules, other attributes that can account for whale-ability are: one-time only releases; collaborations with other popular breweries; special, rarely seen ingredients; and/or the use of high-end barrels like Glenmorangie or Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon.
When a beer becomes so vaunted and equally hard to acquire that people are willing to spend several times the amount of its retail value, or will trade many of their most valuable brews in exchange for that one bottle, then the beer gains the name “White Whale.” For connoisseurs, collectors, and even just discerning craft fans, acquiring it can become an all-encompassing obsession.
Today’s Whale, Fully Loaded Baked Potato, is an illusive three-way collab NE-Style Triple IPA from some of the hottest juicebomb brewers in the country: Trillium, Monkish, and Other Half. You can’t get any beers from any of these breweries outside of their taprooms, and their taprooms are known for building wrapping lines on release days. Other Half has a history of having beer nerds set up camp in line, outside the brewery, starting at 7 or 8am prior to the 10am opening, but this particular brew drew crowds as early as 2am that morning!
The brewery didn’t disclose the amount of cases of Fully Loaded Baked Potato that they made, but it’s safe to say it was an extremely small batch, due to the fact that it sold out within hours of opening.
There are no actual baked potato ingredients in this brew, the name is a metaphor for how chalk-full of fruit flavors it is. At 10% ABV, this Triple IPA was triple dry-hopped with blood orange-pineapple-like Denali, passion fruit and mandarin Galaxy, coconut lime Kohatu, and tangerine bubble gum Mosaic -- it's got crazy levels of tropical juice vibrant enough to mask its exorbitant amount of booze. It’s also brewed with plenty of oats and wheat for a smoothie-like mouthfeel.
When I finally tried it, this beer was every bit as tasty as you’d expect from a collab by three of the juiciest IPA makers in the country joining forces. Was it worth standing in line at 2 in the morning? No idea, it would need to come with a wish-granting genie to get me to do that. I will say it was definitely worth driving all around Seattle and Portland to get four of the Northwest’s best NE-Style juice-monsters from Great Notion, Holy Mountain, and Reuben’s that I used to make the trade.
The Tavour Blog’s Whale Scale starts with a 1 to describe a highly sought after and traded beer from a very popular brewery that’s available several times a year but limited to the taproom only -- like Treehouse Julius. The scale ranges all the way up to 10 to classify Lawson’s Fayston Maple Imperial Stout, aged in 12 year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels -- it checks the boxes of popular brewery, highly sought after and traded beer, aged in rare, high end barrels, AND a it was a one time release, likely never to be brewed again.
Other Half x Monkish x Trillium - Fully Loaded Baked Potato: Whale Scale 8
Written by Dylan Kasprzyk