Last month, we brought you news that Norfolk, Virginia brewery Smartmouth had caused quite a stir with its announcement of a forthcoming Lucky Charms-inspired beer called Saturday Morning IPA. Brewed with marshmallows—though carefully not mentioning the cereal brand by name—the beer created national buzz, with coverage in USA Today and People magazine. After its first can release last Saturday yielded long lines and a quickly sold-out stock, now some people are reselling the Saturday Morning cans for a pretty penny online.
Instagram posts from customers who waited in line for the release said that people who weren’t in line by 10 a.m. didn’t get any beer (which was released at noon). Photos show a line of people stretching down the sidewalk outside the brewery. The brewery half-apologized for not being able to sell marshmallow IPA to everyone, writing “had we known it would have gone viral, we certainly would have made a lot more! Thanks for understanding the nature of a small craft brewery.” Smartmouth adds that some cans were released into local distribution, so customers should call their favorite bottle shop or beer store to check if it’s in stock.
Whatever cans made it into stores are more than likely gone now, as a secondary market has quickly sprung up for the beer online. A four-pack of cans is currently for sale on eBay, with one bidder pledging $100 for it so far. News station WTKR reports a four-pack of cans was listed earlier this week for $450, and someone was even selling an empty can for $5. The secondary beer market is nothing new; reselling beer online (for a markup, of course) has been a thorn in breweries’ sides for years. While you might think the publicity and attention are great for business, brewers mostly find the secondary market a huge frustration.
“I don’t want people to see my beer as an opportunity for profit,” Cory King, owner-brewer at St. Louis brewery Side Project, told me back when I was reporting on this topic for DRAFT Magazine. “The secondary market in wine and whiskey is starting to drive out the people who really enjoy those products. People just buying beer to resell it aren’t real beer people.”
But in the age of social media and ever-wilder beer concoctions, maybe this ravenous market for outlandish beers is to be expected. For its part, Smartmouth hasn’t said yet whether it plans to brew Saturday Morning IPA again. While they’re deciding, plenty of breweries will no doubt step in to take up the breakfast- or dessert-beer mantle. It’s prompted a debate within the beer world about whether these beers are embarrassing gimmicks or harmless fun that gets customers excited about new beers. Personally, it’s not what breweries put in beers that necessarily bothers me, it’s the concept of a specific beer as conquest, as a “score,” as just something to be acquired and shown off rather than enjoyed for its flavor and craftsmanship.
“Beer isn’t supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be drinkable,” tweeted beer author Josh Noel, setting off a wave of philosophical beer discussion. (Well, as philosophical as marshmallow-IPA discussions can get.) For my part, I’m not anti-novelty, in beer or any other consumer product that’s supposed to be a leisurely, enjoyable escape. You prefer a glitter beer with four umbrellas? Live your truth—that’s just more pilsner for me. As long as brewers don’t entirely abandon classic styles to chase a magical leprechaun, beer will eventually move on to the next fad while the vast majority of customers happily drink non-unicorn beers.