Today is , the day the holds the once-a-year tapping of its famed Russian Imperial Stout.
The doors opened at 11 a.m., and the ceremonial tapping was at 11:30 a.m. Nearly 300 people lined up outside the Market Street brewery this morning hoping to get a taste of the famous brew. The first person in line was from San Francisco and had been there since 3 a.m.
Cam Harris came from Cincinnati, Ohio to wait in line for Kate the Great. He said he's tried Kate before, and calls it "a good beer – really good." But he's not sure why events like today's release draw such huge crowds, other than the rising demand for really good beer.
"It becomes a legend," he said.
Head Brewer Tod Mott said even he doesn't know why people travel across the country and wait for hours in long lines to try Kate.
"I really am not sure," he said. "The beer is good, no question about it... I really don't know, to be quite honest.
Mott said the craze got its start in 2007 after BeerAdvocate named Kate the Great its "Best Beer in America."
"It's so funny to see where it's gone," he said. "You never know when it's going to happen to you... It's kind of cult-like."
In addition to being sold on tap Monday, 15,000 scratch tickets were sold ahead of time, with the 2,000 winners getting a chance to buy a bottle of Kate for $8. Proceeds from the $2 scratch tickets – about $30,000 in all – went to five different charities, including Sexual Assault Support Services and 3S Artspace of Portsmouth and the Southeast Land Trust of Exeter.
As in past years, Mott said there will be a limited amount of Kate the Great set aside which will be put on tap at unannounced times throughout the year.